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1Mby1M Virtual Accelerator Investor Forum: With Hemant Mohapatra of Lightspeed Ventures (Part 6)

Posted on Saturday, May 25th 2019

Sramana Mitra: Coming back to the more mundane topic of enterprise technology which is what everybody wants to invest in; by and large, in the venture world, what is your analysis? What kind of stuff do you see as interesting and exciting?

Hemant Mohapatra: Coming into India, I don’t know how deep the enterprise is. It is never going to be as deep as the US, at least, for a few years now. But what is interesting is the ambition of the best founders and enterprises here is no less than the ambitions of the best founders and enterprises in the US.

If you think about it, a lot of founders of big enterprise companies in the US like AB Dynamics, Rubrik, and Nutanix are Indians who were born and brought up in India, studied in India, and went to the US. It expanded their mind and then they executed behind that. They’ve got the experience. They expanded their mind and never went back to its original size.

That is now happening to Indian founders sitting in India. You have companies like Freshdesk that have scaled at $200 million ARR.

Sramana Mitra: Freshdesk was incubated in 1Mby1M in 2011. Zoho was a fast-breaking company, and then Freshdesk was a fast-breaking company.

Hemant Mohapatra: Freshdesk is a great example, but there are other newer companies as well that have scaled up really well and really quickly. BrowerStack is an example of a developer-centric company that offers developers a way to check their mobile apps and web apps on different kinds of browsers on Chrome Version X, Firefox Version Y, and Opera.

They have scaled to over two million developers in the last three to four years, which is a very interesting scale. This is the scale that GitHub has achieved, and Andreessen Horowitz put a $100 million check into it. So that’s a fantastic scale.

You have companies like Postman. These are all Indian companies with Indian founders born and brought up in India. Something interesting is happening to India enterprise where the founder’s vision and ambition have actually crossed borders like never before.

It’s not just limited to the US, it’s also happening in India and Southeast Asia because there’s no other enterprise company or there’s no enterprise plate for Southeast Asia. China is very consumer-focused. The big enterprise companies in China are all hardware companies. The rest of Southeast Asia looks up to India in terms of quality of talent and technical expertise. So it’s a very natural fit for us.

Sramana Mitra: All right. Anything else that you want to add before we move to the entrepreneur pitches?

Hemant Mohapatra: I’ve been an entrepreneur before. Having tried to do the entrepreneurship journey and having tried to raise capital, I really empathize with how difficult the journey is.

The best kinds of entrepreneurs are so resourceful. They are almost like cockroaches that refuse to die. The market will come to them. This is what happened with Bezos. He was not any less of a founder 10 to 15 years ago, but he IPO’d in 1998. His stock was slack for 2007. In 2007, iPhones came up and everybody had a device to buy things from, and then Amazon just took off.

Why did that happen? Because the founder survived everything. He just kept doing his thing and just kept building the fundamentals of the business and the market came to him.

For Airbnb, the market was never ready for people to open up their houses. In 2007 to 2009, they tried to raise money from YC. YC funded, but Fred Wilson said no. A bunch of other founders said no. A bunch of other VCs said no. They kept selling Cheerios for Obama campaign. They kept knocking doors in New York. Would you not support an Obama campaign? They’re coming to your city to campaign for Obama.

You trust them to do stuff like that. Then, the 2008 crisis happened. People lost their jobs. In 2009, people didn’t have enough money to pay for their rent. Then they were open to opening up their doors and to get a stranger come in and sleep in their bedrooms.

The market came to them again. Why? Airbnb just survived everything else. What is there to do? Stick it out. Stay resilient. Stay resourceful. Find a way. Just find a way.

Sramana Mitra: And be creative in finding the markets as they come to you. Wonderful. Very nice catching up with you. Thank you for your time.

This segment is part 6 in the series : 1Mby1M Virtual Accelerator Investor Forum: With Hemant Mohapatra of Lightspeed Ventures
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