Tête-à-tête With Mr. Ashutosh Mayank, Vice President, Lumis Partners
Ashwamedh is the annual business conclave organized by X-ops, the Operations and Supply Chain Management Club of XIMB-XUB. We were honoured to have in our presence Mr. Ashutosh Mayank (Vice President, Lumis Partners), who spoke on the growth of IoT in the industry. Presenting the excerpts of an informal tête-à-tête, which we had with him post the conclave:
Interviewee: Sir first and foremost it’s a great honour to have you here today
Mr. Ashutosh: The honour is all mine.
Interviewee: Sir, what are your thoughts about coming to XIMB and attending the Ashwamedh business conclave?
Mr. Ashutosh: So if I relate it back to my days when I was doing an MBA, it was a degree where you get knowledge about the kind of subjects which are useful for your managerial job. So it was a degree by which we can move from being a core technical person to an all rounded person and be successful at a mid management level or probably a mid senior level. So a number of courses are taught but the missing key as per my experience is the fact that you are still better than undergrad in terms of realising that the world out there needs a lot of skills, but you are still under prepared. Now with XIMB and other academic institutes interacting with the industry a lot, that one missing key is getting in place. Now, we are getting a very good quality of students and owing to my involvement in recruiting for my firm as well as for my portfolio companies, I can say that there is a world of difference between the kind of quality of students that we used to get 7 or 8 years back in comparison to the kind of students we get now from good institutes. One of the big reasons is the industry academic interactions, along with the ability to learn courses online and stuff like that. So you guys are doing great work.
Interviewee: Sir moving ahead, you have been an alumnus of IIT Kanpur and IIM Calcutta, which are highly reputed institutes that have been there in the field of education for decades. XIMB consequently is completing 30 years this year, so in this context, I would like to ask you how such educational institutes can create a field for startups and more entrepreneurs to grow from there.
Mr. Ashutosh: That’s a very good question and we have thought long and hard about it. So the word of entrepreneurship inside the academic institutes is most of the time limited to an entrepreneurial cell which is there in most of the institutes. If you now, look at the US model, there are entrepreneurial models and entrepreneurial cells and there is an incubation lab that will give you a mid level experience. That incubation lab basically enters into a partnership with a local VC and says that “we‘ll provide you great talent. We’ll provide you great ideas, at least a startup platform where we’ll invest a little bit, so that they come at a stage where you look seriously and then we cultivate probably 10 ideas a year and then you see probably where do you want to invest and therein enter into collaboration wherein 5 or 6 VCs or PEs and these ideas will actually get seed funding then and there “. So basic infrastructure would be taken care of by the Institute like sitting and sharing workspace, communication etc. while the other part would be actually getting seed funding so that the actual business use case is tactical and that is probably something that XIMB can work towards which will be awesome.
Interviewee: Sir, moving ahead because you talked about the venture capital, so now that Soft Bank has come up with this vision fund, in this context how will other venture capitalists compete with such a big fund?
Mr. Ashutosh: See, every venture capital team has a mandate invest in different stages, so it’s not about competition it’s about collaboration. So if you look at the fundings which have happened in India, and say top 100 fundings which have happened, most of these funding are co-investment. Their own funded companies are competing with other companies, but their venture funds are not competing, they are collaborating, they are co-investing. So that is going to be the spirit in good companies who can actually stand tall enough.
Interviewee: Sir, lastly, in India most start-ups have not really been successful. So what do you think is the reason behind this failure?
Mr. Ashutosh: So Indian startup ecosystem, unlike US startup ecosystem, is not based on product methodology. What does that mean – Indian startup ecosystem generally works in such a way that they want to scale up by generating revenue very quickly from the client. So they keep on moving from one plant to the other, aggregating clients but all they are doing is satisfying custom needs for the clients. They are not developing a product or a platform which takes a long time to develop. Once developed, then the clients can be on-boarded very quickly. So take examples of a few companies in the US which have gotten to IPO state. For example, Cloudera was in development for four years and it raced to 50 million dollars before it generated even one single dollar of revenue. So both are at fault, the VCs and PEs in India don’t invest big money before they see attraction and consequently the startups, they run after revenues more than their technology.
Interviewee: Sir, thank you so much for giving us this opportunity. On an ending note – What would be your message to XIMB specifically because we are completing 30 years.
Mr. Ashutosh: Ohh okay. You guys are one of the top tier colleges and that is the reason I actually accepted to come here and it’s a great honour to be here. XIMB should keep on doing the way they are doing stuff. Be it on the academic side, be it on the interacting side, getting quality students on board. One advice, I am not mature enough to give such advices, but one advice would be to look at what is the kind of skills required and keep all these courses which are being taught up to date, because it’s a disruptive world out there. Things are moving very fast and probably the things which were useful five years back will not be useful now. So that is all. Thank You.