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1Mby1M Virtual Accelerator Investor Forum: With Yash Hemaraj of Arka Venture Labs (Part 2)

Posted on Saturday, Mar 23rd 2019

Sramana Mitra: One point I will double-click on which comes up a lot is that we have a huge overlap in the Indian market. 1Mby1M has a big presence in the Indian market and we’ve been present for a very long time. The whole Indian SaaS category was one that we played a very big role right from the beginning.

Now the question that will come up from founders is that a lot of these Indians SaaS companies start with Indian customers. Maybe the first three to five customers are Indian customers. Maybe even a dozen Indian customers. Then they fine tune the product using Indian customers and then start selling abroad. Is that an okay level of validation for you to write the $200,000 check, or do you need a US or Western European customer already in the pool before you are willing to write the check?

Yash Hemaraj: I’ll answer that question in two parts. First, we are okay with the founders developing the minimum sellable product in the Indian market. But the kind of customers that they choose has to be carefully selected such that the customer is probably a global customer like a global bank which has an Indian presence. It could be a CPG company which has a lot of presence and interest in the Indian market and who have offices there.

Those are the ideal customers for these companies to work with. Second, it’s just an observation that I’ve seen from a lot of companies that approach us. One of the common mistakes that people do is, when they’re working with the Indian market, they totally focus on just the Indian market and one day they want to play in the global market. When I say the global market, I mean the North American market as the proxy for it. That’s hard. Their words are usually very tough.

A lot of times founders say, “We’re going to relocate completely to the US. Then we’re going to start experimenting with that market.” I think that approach is flawed. I think the better way to approach this is by having periodic visits. Let’s say once every two months or once every three months connecting to the Valley ecosystem, connecting to customers, and learning about what is the need for the global market and how different that market is from there.

Building the cycle of fast experimentation right from the beginning and incorporating the insights from the global customer base is extremely important. This has to be done right from day one rather than trying to pivot the company at one point and then focusing on a different market. That usually leads to a lot of wasted dollars.

That’s one of the reasons why Arka Venture Labs emphasizes the need for coming here more often using the black swan that we have built to connect with customers and go back to their teams, experiment, and iterate. That’s just how we would like to approach building global B2B companies.

This segment is part 2 in the series : 1Mby1M Virtual Accelerator Investor Forum: With Yash Hemaraj of Arka Venture Labs
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