Bhaskar Majumdar has donned many hats in his illustrious career; from being a seasoned media & era government to a a hit entrepreneur and subsequently a prolific investor/guide. He is captivated with building new groups specifically inside the regions of media & technology.
An alumnus of IIT Kharagpur and Harvard Business School, Bhaskar, began his career as a chief manager with BCCL (The Times Group). He persevered his journey inside the media industry and created many disruptions in this zone. At an early age of 27, he changed into appointed as the logo supervisor of Economic Times. He then moved onto Zee and as the MD of the Zee International, he turned into liable for launching Zee foreign places. He even released the primary Indian language broadcaster in UK, US, South Africa and West Indies, turning in over 50% of the income of the listed Zee Telefilms.
In 2000, he determined to strike it by myself launched Recreate Solutions – a virtual media offerings business enterprise with backing from Insight Partners. Within six years the agency grew over 800 human beings and set up offices around the sector. The organization became acquired by way of a division of Verizon in 2007 that delivered big return on shareholders’ funding. He then donned the function of an early stage investor/guide for startups in the media and technology area thru his propriety fund Health Ventures and has invested his prop budget in seven startups in UK and India across media technologies, PAAS and social. Bhaskar has exited businesses as an entrepreneur and as an investor. He therefore has a strong expertise of positioning corporations for exit.
Bhaskar also serves as an guide to the UK Government and Start Up Britain – as well as Tech London Advocate. He is at the Advisory board of FICCI for the media and entertainment area as well as TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Board of India) at the Digital Addressable System Roll-out in India.
We caught up with him to understand his adventure, his studies, the variations among the UK and Indian startups environment, the startup bubble and his take at the unpredictable funding scenario inside the usa.
Here are the edited excerpts:
Inc42: Tell us approximately your journey from being a seasoned media & era govt to a a success entrepreneur and eventually an investor/marketing consultant.
Bhaskar: I have been a media technology executive for close to two decades in diverse avatars – as a expert, entrepreneur, prop traders and now institutional investor. I even have labored in senior management roles in numerous media enterprises across publishing, broadcasting and Internet agencies. I spearheaded Zee’s international roll out in markets just like the US and UK. However, more than the content material aspect of media, it is the tech enablement of this section which involved me greater and became me into an entrepreneur when I launched assignment Recreate Solutions 15 years in the past. Investors within the US sponsored it and later I offered the organisation to an American machine integrator. Around the same time, I commenced making an investment in tech organizations as a prop investor. As a prop investor, I exited some of the enterprise after a 3x-4x go back on my funding to massive PEs like Providence and Amazon.
Inc42: Which function ideal you the maximum?
Bhaskar: It’s difficult to pick out one because each stint of mine has taught me plenty. I actually have carried out the ones getting to know in my new roles from time and time. It has formed me as a expert that I’m today. As an entrepreneur, I learnt the challenges of constructing a commercial enterprise from floor up; this helps me to recognize the mind-set and challenges of Unicorn’s investee businesses. As a former entrepreneur, I connect with the founders, understand their apprehensions and capable to signify them alternatives to develop their companies due to the fact I had been via the identical cycle of pleasure, tension, fear and success.
Inc42: When and why did you decide to end up an institutional investor?
Bhaskar: I think it’s more applicable to percentage when I determined to show an investor. That took place three years in the past once I become already a prop investor for 3 years. Early degree investment scene began collecting momentum in India and globally. Different styles of price range for startups have been being released, and early degree investors were quickly turning into important in cycle of startup organizations. After all, they're the first buyers who vicinity a bet on startups lots earlier than large VCs spot them and signal a bigger cheque to help these companies develop.
Fewer deals suggest better risks of losing one’s cash
Also, being a prop investor comes with own set of limitations. While on the only hand, you get higher returns, but considering it's far one character’s money, ability to do extra offers isn't an alternative. Fewer offers imply better risks of dropping one’s money. A prop investor finds it hard to scale up his investment. At the time, I felt that there's a need to grow to be an institutional investor, since I can deliver my mastering as an entrepreneur and investor on the desk for a portfolio of agencies instead a few of them.
Inc42: What is the modus operandi of Unicorn?
Bhaskar: At Unicorn, our philosophy is commercial enterprise first, funding later. Thus both Anil and I spend a long time with entrepreneurs who come to us for investment. We spend three-five months in knowledge their business model, the crew at work, revenue streams. This mentoring is provided to them with none dialogue of signing a cheque. In many instances, we tell marketers to faucet into new revenue streams which can also have been of their blind spot or they'll understand approximately, however don’t know how to pass approximately it. After spending big time with businesses, then we talk funding with them.
Inc42: Who are the investors of Unicorn?
Bhaskar: With Unicorn, we've aimed to do matters otherwise in every sphere; whether or not it’s approximately adopting a exceptional strategy of evaluating startups or accomplishing out investors. Unicorn has finished the first close of INR forty Cr. And could be saying our investments quickly. This amount has been raised from nearby institutional traders, tech marketers, HNIs. In addition to this, we were able to deliver in a new magnificence of buyers into our fund for the primary time. These new class includes traditional commercial enterprise family houses, wealthy individuals, professionals and wealth managers.
Inc42: Which are the startups Unicorn as a way to invest in this year?
Bhaskar: We are currently comparing startups in segments like Fintech, app-based totally offerings, B2B cloud-primarily based enterprise ventures and media tech. Since our first close is completed, we can be announcing Unicorn’s investment next month.
Inc42: Unicorn’s advisory crew accommodates of?
Bhaskar: Composition of our advisory team is of experts who've worked and are working in senior control roles throughout the commercial enterprise segments we're seeking to make investments. We are inside the manner of setting together an advisory board to mentor our portfolio businesses.
Inc42: What do you commonly search for in a startup, before investing in it?
Bhaskar: There are quantity of parameters which help us determine which enterprise to put money into. We normally like to spend money on a startup, which has to a few co-founders. The quality of the group at work is extraordinarily important, their working courting, co-founders’ operating knowledge with each different is given excessive significance in our standards list. As a fund, we're clear that we gained’t be investing in only a commercial enterprise idea. We will be making an investment in companies which are both generating revenues or have moved beyond proof of concept degree. Last however not the least, for us, it is extraordinarily vital to look a few preliminary funding in the enterprise with the aid of the founder himself. Once these standards are met, we start evaluating their commercial enterprise model. We compare it to the dimensions of the market they are in and discover their opportunity of scaling up no longer only inside the country but globally too. We don’t opt for making an investment in too niche startup due to the fact the possibility of scaling up poses a challenge.
We normally want to put money into a startup, which has two to three co-founders.
Inc42: Do you agree with Nikesh Arora’s view that startup valuations have jumped a ways ahead of what they must be? Do you think angel investors and VC firms, in widespread are retaining their horses earlier than making huge bets?
Bhaskar: Like in each business cycle, angel investment cycle has passed through a transformation within the remaining six to nine months. The first half of of the year noticed massive bang funding announcements into client net corporations, app primarily based startups, meals tech, hyperlocal et al. But with the latest turn of activities, buyers are now greater careful earlier than writing a cheque. As a end result, they're now keen to paintings with skilled specialists turned entrepreneurs, and investment focus is slowly moving to B2B startups too, which was in advance missing. I would like to emphasis at the reality that although we've got raised a corpus and are geared up to make investments, but we won’t be in any hurry to jot down a cheque as we will be carefully analyzing the organizations we need to be related to. I don’t believe in FOMO.
Inc42: Of late, there had been plenty of voices elevating concerns about the startup bubble ultimately bursting. What’s your take on the same? Do you believe you studied price range are drying up for startups as buyers are becoming more cautious?
I don’t agree with in FOMO.
Bhaskar: It may be accurate to mention that valuation in positive commercial enterprise segments is seeing a level of correction. However, we have to understand that patron Internet or ecommerce are not the handiest startups. Sure, their valuations are seeing a correction but if an investor is seeking to park their funds, they ought to appearance beyond the standard suspects.
Inc42: What will the startup fundraising state of affairs be like in 2016?
Bhaskar: We will see accelerated funding attention in B2B businesses, fintech, mediatech, Cloud tech and ventures led with the aid of skilled specialists, are in all likelihood to get attention from the proper quarters.
Inc42: How specific is the UK startup environment from the startup atmosphere in India?
Bhaskar: UK, as a country changed into now not known for fostering startups. But this is changing swiftly. In the United Kingdom, pinnacle universities are forming backbone of the startup atmosphere. Unlike in India, wherein bright minds graduating from IITs and IIMs are more and more turning marketers, inside the UK, most ventures begin from universities, grow from there lengthy earlier than they take shape of a startup. Universities help their college students set up the preliminary business, fund them if needed, mentor them before they may be ready to interrupt out on their own. That’s a healthy manner of nurturing a startup. In the United Kingdom, maximum of the startups that get released are in research pushed fields like biotech, genetic engineering, plastic tech etc. Even as in India, most startups are targeted on addressing want hole faced with the aid of end-users of their day to day lives. It will be a cab, splendor or a domestic transport business version. Also, the common age of a founder of a startup in the UK is a whole lot higher than an Indian entrepreneur.
Also Read:- WHAT IS SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING?
Inc42: How different or similar is the VC/angel investment scenario like within the UK, from India?
Bhaskar: Angel traders’ community in the UK has got a fillip because of tax breaks being delivered for them. Under the ‘Enterprise Investment Scheme’, an angel can get between 50-eighty% tax smash on their investments in startups. As I referred to earlier, UK turned into never referred to as a startup hub. The US has been known to churn out some of most successful startups, but in the remaining 4 years, UK has transformed itself and is getting developed as a startup kingdom. Interestingly, the Indian government is presently studying UK’s startup rules actively. They are probable to introduce some of them for the angel investment network in India. If that takes place, it may be a sport changer for startups and buyers alike.
Inc42: Please share some phrases of recommendation for entrepreneurs and traders looking to go out; a few clever go out techniques.
Bhaskar: Entrepreneurs who are constructing a business from floor up, ought to no longer lose attention at the need hole they're aiming to cope with but on the identical time, if you have plans to exit the commercial enterprise a few years down the line, then align your enterprise method and planning consistent with the buyers’ community you'll be inclined to sell the business to. This will fetch you correct valuation.
For investors, there's one golden mantra that every person must comply with: Time you exit right.
Bhaskar’s experiences and learnings span countries and more than one roles. He has gracefully exited many organizations as an entrepreneur and as an investor; making him a treasure trove of clever exit strategies. He isn't always just a prolific investor, however his know-how and deep domain knowledge additionally makes a strong mentor and marketing consultant for young entrepreneurs and traders alike.