In the same Silicon India conference I mentioned in my yesterday’s blog, I met another Samir, also an alumnus of IIT Mumbai and my hostel mate, Samir Kumar, Managing Director of Inventus Capital partners, a venture capital firm. Unlike Sam Gulve, whom I didn’t know while in IIT, I knew Samir while we were in IIT and we had met a few years ago in Pan IIT 2006 in Mumbai.
There was a panel discussion on “Opportunities for Entrepreneurs in the Mobile space” during the Silicon India conference and all the panellists represented different venture capital firms. Samir was given the task of moderating the panel discussion. The representatives of all the other VC firms were very young, Samir was the only one with gray hair. Samir asked all the panellists to introduce their firms and then opened the panel for any questions.
The person who asked the first questions mentioned that Samir had the most gray hair amongst all the panellists and hence will direct the question to Samir. Before answering the main question, Samir said in jest that his hair had turned gray in the earlier fifteen years in his career in sales and marketing. His later interactions with the audience proved that the grayness of his hair represented wisdom, not just the age. I will share two interactions that were really very illuminating.
One young person from the audience enquired as to how does one know if the idea that he had was worth taking to a VC firm. The panel told him that the best way to figure out was to discuss the idea with a few people. The young man then came up with what was really troubling him. He was worried that if he discussed the idea with someone, what will prevent that person from stealing that idea and starting on his own. Samir gave a great answer. He said very politely and sincerely, “If your idea is such that it can be stolen by someone if shared, then it’s probably not a business idea worth pursuing”.
For all of us, each of our ideas is a gem, only someone who has really come across a great number of ideas and seen the work behind making an idea into a successful venture could have said that.
Another young person asked Sameer the criteria to choose the right VC partner. Again, the answer Samir gave was very apt and absolutely true. He told the young man that there is no difference between choosing a bride, who will be your life partner and choosing a VC. You would be working with a VC for a long time, may be 7 to 8 years, and if you can’t get along with the VC, everyone’s life will be miserable.
How true. And how insensitive and short sighted some of us are while getting into relationships like business partners, employees / employer or even life partnership.
Samir, you earned your gray hair, they represent wisdom, not just age!