Getting VC-funded is like getting married: Murugavel Janakiraman, founder, Matrimony.com @ VCCircle India Angel Summit
To call the recently concluded VCCircle India Angel Summit 2013 a success will be an understatement (not very modest are we!). Even the rain gods could not dampen the spirits of the delegates who turned up in large numbers—close to 300.
In its new avatar, the fourth edition of the India Angel Summit was a two-day initiative. The first day was all about the Startup Walkabout, a unique initiative by VCCircle, as part of which 'lucky' participants were taken to the 'offices' of India's six top venture capital funds and innovative companies in Mumbai for interactive workshops. They were given an opportunity to visit offices, including Olacabs, Komli, Sequoia Capital, Nexus Venture Partners, Quikr and Orios Venture Partners. You can read more about all of that here and here.
The second day was loaded with exciting keynotes, debates and special sessions. The summit also hosted a special session, Pitch-10, which gave selected startups an opportunity to showcase their products, and get live feedback on the same from a panel of jury members that included Rajesh Sawhney, founder, GSF accelerator; Mahesh Murthy, partner, Seedfund; and Parag Dhol, MD, Inventus Capital. Read here for more on that.
One of the sessions at the event was an interview with an entrepreneur where Murugavel Janakiraman, founder and CEO, Matrimony.com Pvt Ltd, interacted with Shrija Agrawal, managing editor, VCCircle. The company is touted as the next in line for an IPO, post the successful public listing of Just Dial. Here are the key takeaways of the interview:
On entrepreneurship and fundraising
Making people pay in India is very tough, hence regular cash flow is very critical. Money is oxygen for a company, and entrepreneurs should not wait for a requirement to arise before looking for funds. They should raise it whenever it is available and invest it for growth.
Getting VC-funded is similar to getting married. Initially when you get the money, the company and VC seem to be on a honeymoon, with rainbows in the horizon and lots of love everywhere. Once that dies down, what follows is a series of disagreements and heated arguments among the parties. But with time they come to an understanding and start working together.
Speed of execution is very important, you have to sprint all the way to the finish line, else you will be overtaken and will lose.
The three pillars of success are: having a structure, building a strategy around it, and finding people who can execute that strategy.
Many companies fail because they don't hire the correct people or can't let go of the ones who are not required. An entrepreneur has to be ruthless; if someone is not adding value, you have to let him/her go.
Entrepreneurs should not be too emotional when it comes to their ventures, and rather focus on the end game. They should stick to where the growth potential is, and let go of what is not working. The strategy should be simple—don't focus on too many things—focus only on things where you have a strategic advantage, leadership advantage or where you have already established leadership. Note that the company had sold off majority stake in its job portal ClickJobs in November last year, to focus deeper on its Matrimonial service.
On matrimonial services
Matrimony.com Pvt Ltd (formerly Consim Info Pvt Ltd), which owns a string of matrimony-related consumer internet properties, including BharatMatrimony.com, EliteMatrimony.com and CommunityMatrimony.com, as well as online real estate site Indiaproperty.com, is now coming up with a 'Popular' matrimony site that will be targeted the bottom of the pyramid population of the country.
Marriage is a very big market in India. Over 10 million people are getting married every year, which means close to 40-50 million people are actively looking to get married yearly. The company hasn't even catered to 10 per cent of this market; hence the potential to grow is huge.
If people spend Rs 8 lakh on a marriage, they spend only about 1 per cent of that amount on a matrimonial service. The company wants to get the remaining 99 per cent as well; hence it has been focusing on wedding-related services, which has a lot of scope of growth going forward.
Finally, marriage is a recession proof industry. No matter what happens around the world, people will keep getting married.
On acquisitions and the company's end game
While many people ask me why not acquire an online dating site, that way you can get them to meet, and then get them married. But that is not how it works, at least in India. While parents have warmed up to matrimonial sites, I don't think a majority of them would allow/approve their daughters to upload their profiles online for the purpose of dating other people.
As far as an exit plan for the company is concerned, we don't have one. Even after an IPO, whenever it happens, I will run the company as long as I can. We want to build a legacy and things like IPOs are only a part of that journey.