'I would spend money to build a good team first, if I start a company again': Phanindra Sama

31 Oct, 2013

India should not draw parallels with the startup ecosystem in Silicon Valley when it comes to exits, since it is a much mature market where exists are in billions of dollars unlike the million-dollar ones in the country, according to Phanindra Sama, co-founder and CEO of

Sama, who sold his online bus ticketing venture to Johannesburg-based digital media conglomerate Naspers in possibly the biggest exit for a new age tech startup from India, also said that he would spend the money he received to hire talented workforce and build a team if he were to launch another startup in his lifetime.

Speaking at a panel session at the Nasscom Product Conclave 2013 held in Bangalore, he said it is important to bring creative people on board in the initial years.

"I feel that the quality of the team we build in the initial days is very important. They can come up with good ideas and bring in innovation. I think Flipkart did the right thing by setting up a good team when they started. Indian startups and entrepreneurs can follow the same path," said Sama.

Talking about competition, he said that entrepreneurs should focus on whatever they are doing and should not be afraid of competition. "For instance, we had some competitors when we started the company, and they used to offer bus tickets for free to customers. But we were not scared of this and focused on our business. These companies are non-existent now," he said.

Referring to his learning from the redBus business, Sama said that entrepreneurs should not be ashamed of going to their potential consumers directly to convince them to buy their products. "In fact, I was afraid of going to bus operators to convince them to build a partnership with us, as I felt they might insult or shoo me away. However, my co-founders did a great job and they went directly to sell our product. What I feel now is that if I am to start another company, I will definitely go and even wait for days and months to convince people to buy our products as long as I am not doing anything illegal," he quipped. Sama also emphasised the need to be humble and honest to the people that an entrepreneur is dealing with, especially investors, customers and the staff.

Founded in 2006 and owned and operated by Bangalore-based Pilani Soft Labs Pvt Ltd, redBus is now being run as an independent company post the deal which was pegged at over $100 million. redBus was a darling for leading investors and received investments from Seedfund, Inventus Capital and Helion Venture Partners.

(Edited by Joby Puthuparampil Johnson)