Rohan Malhotra: Venture Capital | Fundraising | Entrepreneurship | Podcast

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Rohan Malhotra and Anuvinder Singh

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Get to know your Host! Mr. Anuvinder Singh

Welcome to the podcast! 

Mr. Anuvinder Singh, Director, Partner, GOMO Group DBS is our host for this exciting and insightful podcast with Rohan Malhotra. 

Anuvinder or Anu (as he is fondly called) is also the Head of the Online Acceleration Department at GOMO. He started his career when he was 18 and gained valuable experience along the way before he started his own coffee shop when he was studying at University. 

Along his journey, he found his calling and of creating a legacy of like-minded individuals who can resolve complex problems in digital syndication. His vision and calm and collected thought process has enabled him to provide data-driven guidance to end customers. 

He joined hands with GO MO Group with a drive to create and deliver 360-degree marketing solutions to customers under the GO MO umbrella. 

Podcast summary

In this podcast, Rohan Malhotra (Co-founder and Managing Partner, Good Capital), joins our host Mr. Anuvinder Singh to talk about his incredible journey in the venture capital world.

From leaving his job as a sports agent in London to moving to the Bay Area in San Francisco, Rohan along with his brother Arjun took the plunge to explore the opportunities in India. 

He offers his two cents on the required skill-sets one needs to have to achieve success in venture capital, the decision process at Good Capital, his learnings from missed investment opportunities, and what keeps him going. 

The podcast ends with a quick rapid-fire round where Rohan discloses his favorite book and who he would want to share a table with at his dream dinner party.

Good Capital is one of the most successful VC funds in India that invests in early-stage startups. At present, Good Capital’s portfolio includes some incredibly successful startups such as KATERRA, BLINK, wealthy, OrangeHealth, Spatial, simsim, hypertrack, METAMORPHOSYS Technologies, and ENTRI. 

Previously Rohan and Arjun had started Investopad in 2014. In their journey with Investopad, the duo connected with some phenomenally smart and dynamic founders. 

Rohan and his brother launched Good Capital in September 2019 purely due to their love for working with founders, particularly at the early stages of product conceptualization. 

Podcast notes:

  1. (1:22) Good Capital background
  2. (4:26) Rohan’s background and his entry into the VC arena
  3. (5:50) Obstacles and roadblocks encountered so far
  4. (9:25) First opportunity or breakthrough
  5. (12:30) Favorite part about the job?
  6. What do you look at? a) The product b) The people?
  7. (15:07) More about the investment in Meesho
  8. (18:14) Attributes to look for in an entrepreneur before investing in their idea
  9. (20:10) What keeps you motivated?
  10. (21:42) Store behind naming the firm Good Capital
  11. (22:25) Thoughts on a single-founder startup?
  12. (23:11) Missed deals and investment opportunities
  13. (25:19) Thoughts on Blockchain and the future of Blockchain
  14. (28:13) Rohan’s thoughts on work-life balance vs personal life balance
  15. (30:22) Thoughts on failing or failure
  16. (31:27) Financial advice for all those who have tuned in
  17. (34:12) Companies people should consider investing in?
  18. (35:57) Rapid-fire round

Podcast transcript 

Q1. (1:22) What is the backstory of Good Capital?

Rohan: My brother and I have worked in venture capital, predominantly out of India. We always had an aspiration to move back to India and do something and give back to our country. There were a lot of large global institutions that had come and set up shop here in India. But we did not see any platform that was doing the heavy lifting at the seed stage and that is what we were fascinated by. 

Q2. (4:26) What is your background? How did you enter this investment arena with no experience?

Rohan: Accidentally! I used to play cricket for Delhi. I have played Golf for India. I was always fascinated by the business of sport. When I graduated from university, I worked as a sports agent for three years. My brother was in venture capital throughout. He convinced me that there is a much bigger opportunity in venture capital than there is in being a sports agent.

Q4. (9:25) You mentioned that you are from the Service background. How did you come across your first opportunity? What was the process? What companies believed in you?

Rohan: First investment was made from our private portfolio in 2014 and our first investment from the fund portfolio was in 2019. The responsibilities grow multifold when you move from investing $25,000 to millions of dollars. 

Our largest investor fund was Symphony Asia which happens to be Asia’s oldest private equity fund. They have been investors in a myriad of industries such as infrastructure, healthcare, hospitality, and real estate in Asia. 

It took me a year and a half to convince them and they eventually liked our fund so much that they invested $5 million dollars. We were lucky there!

Q5. (12:30) What’s the favorite part about your job or current responsibilities?

Rohan: I get to interact with a lot of incredibly smart people who are transforming the landscape of the industry they are operating in and are ten times smarter than me. Every day I wake up and learn something new and that is the favorite part of my job. 

Q6. What do you look at? The product or the people?

Rohan: It depends on the stage you are investing in. In the pre-seed stage, we are only looking at people. We urge people who want to partner with us to reach out 3 months or a year before we start doing business together. I want to fundamentally understand who they are, what they are doing, why they are doing what they are doing and what they are so passionate about. 

If you find a good person in an average market you can still make some business. 

Later during the growth rounds, that’s when we look at the numbers and metrics. It is always the people who make these businesses successful. 

Q7. (15:07) You have invested in a unicorn (Meesho). How does a company or deal like that come across?

Rohan: Vidit and Sanjeev were dorm mates with two portfolio company founders from IIT Delhi. At the time they moved back to India from Japan and were building a hyperlocal on-demand commerce business.

We liked them but their business would never work. So we told them about what we do and we will be happy to roll our sleeves to help you with your thinking.

We found that housewives were spending a lot of time on Facebook collating inventory, suits, salwar kameez, and apparel and then distributing them to their friends on Whatsapp.

There was a business opportunity here!

The retention they had, the consumer behavior, and the ability to not change customer behavior are some of the things that stood out for me. I got in touch with my friend who was the Chief Business Officer of Whatsapp to evaluate the business and invest with me. 

Together we invested about $200,000 at 1$ Mn valuation. Five years down the line, that business is today valued at $2.1 billion dollars. We were at the right place at the right time. 

Q8. (18:14) There are so many young entrepreneurs out there. What attributes do you look at? 

Rohan: The most important thing to look at is why they are building a company. Today a lot of people are building a company just for the sake of being an entrepreneur. They do not understand what goes on behind the scenes, how difficult it is to maintain a work-life balance, you have to give up on relationships.

A lot of people have misaligned reasons to be an entrepreneur. The most important thing here is a) Why do you want to do what you are doing? b) Are you the right person to do what you are doing? These are the questions that matter to me!

Q9. (20:10) What is your motivation behind doing all the good work for companies? Helping them reach from Level A to Level C? What drives you?

Rohan: If you look at our businesses, they are all doing good work for the people and the country. I am not particularly interested in investing in gambling or gaming companies. Principally, we feel that if 400 million people are coming online for the first time, how do we make sure that education is available to them. How can we financially educate them? I will never invest in something that is addictive or has a net negative impact. 

It is all about doing good. and there are investors who I am responsible for and I have to return their money with a profit or I am out of business. Of course, seeing some kind of financial success is also a motivation. 

Q10. (21:42) Since you mentioned that they want to do doing good things drives you, is that how the name Good Capital came up?

Rohan: We echo the purpose of the work we are trying to do and I believe that there is so much opportunity in India and so much good to be done. If we can be a small part of the journey, I will be over the moon. 

Next Section of the Podcast: Businesses in India and Startups (22:17)

Q11. (22:25) Currently, Meesho is a two-founder startup. What is your take on a single founder startup?

Rohan: It is very hard!  We have not backed even one single-founder startup. For us, the optimal team size is three people. You need someone to double up, you need someone to be an equal partner, to take responsibility, you need a shoulder to cry on, and so on. 

Q12. (23:11) Can you tell us about the deals you have missed out on or the deals you regret?

Rohan: I was thinking about this recently actually! The truth is that retrospectively you regret lots of things that have done well for you but at that time with the type of data I had, there is nothing that I regret. Honestly, there are zero companies that I regret.

There are 2-3 businesses that have gone on to become phenomenal successes and I wish all of them well. I have done lots of good stuff for them. Over the course, they have become really good friends, and even though I am not a shareholder it’s okay! It is fine to miss out!

If I start listing every company that I missed out on and why it happened, I would be filled with bitterness. Life is easier when you look at it through a positive lens.

If there was one company I wish I could have invested in is Chaios, a big tea business built by one of my friends. At that time I was not interested in investing in non-tech companies

Q13. (25:19) What do you think about Blockchain and what do you think is the future of blockchain?

Rohan: I have nothing against crypto but I do not have enough knowledge to give you answers. I am fascinated by NFTS and blockchain. There is no doubt in my mind that they are awesome!

Q14. (28:13) Worklife balance vs personal life balance? What are your thoughts?

Rohan: Wrong person to ask! I made a lot of decisions in life prioritizing my work in the first five years of my journey and I do not regret that. I am fortunate to do what I do and enjoyed every bit of it. But there are a few things I struggle with even today like lack of sleep. There is nothing good or healthy about it

As a team, we have started linking our compensation with our health scores. We are using wearable tech to track the key metrics of our bodies. 

Q15. (30:22) What are your thoughts on failure for entrepreneurs?

Rohan: It is a double-edged sword! There is no shame in failure. I come from a school of thought that failure is the last resort. 

Q16. (31:27) What financial advice would you give to everyone who has joined in?

Rohan: Start investing! That is the most important thing in the world. Today, there are plenty of platforms that allow you to make investments. Build your portfolio and if you are looking to invest, think about long-term investments. 

Q17. (34:12) Can you name any company that you think people should invest in?

Rohan: For me, I do not see any reason why Amazon will stop growing. 

RAPID-FIRE (35:57)

  1. Best advice you ever got: It is important to have an appetite for more. It is important to be hungry, be curious, and keep learning
  2. What was the worst advice?: Betting against anyone’s success is terrible advice
  3. If you could have a dinner party with 2 people in the world who would they be?: Warren Buffet and Jeff Bezos
  4. If they are coming home for dinner, what’s on the menu?: Biryani, my favorite!
  5. What is your favorite book? It’s a book called What They Don’t Teach You at Harvard Business School
  6. What is one class everyone should take? Be a good observer of what is happening around you. 
  7. Favorite social media platform? Instagram
  8. What is success to you? Happiness

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