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Indian entrepreneurs start again after failed ventures

There is more appetite for failure both in entrepreneurs and early-stage investors, say analysts

Alnoor Peermohamed  |  Bengaluru 

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Anand Satyan loves discussing sports with friends, but since many of them are overseas it’s hard to keep in touch. He has started Boutline, a platform for sports fans to engage with one another.

Boutline isn’t Satyan’s first start-up. He earlier co-founded and ran a crowdsourced e-commerce delivery start-up DeliverWithMe which shut in July 2013, within a year-and-a-half of its inception.

“Not having the right co-founders was one of the issues I had with DeliverWithMe. The other was that we were too early to market,” says Satyan.

Whatever the reasons be for the failure, it is clear from Satyan’s voice that he’s unfazed. He has been active on social networks talking about his failure, helping other entrepreneurs avoid making the same mistakes as he did. As a thumb rule, only two of ten start-ups really grow big. A few remain, but most fail as they struggle to build business and scale in a hyper competitive market.

Mayank Jain, co-founder of recently shut start-up TalentPad, claimed in a post on social network Quora that the reason the company shut down was “our inability to figure out a scalable solution, which addresses a large enough market in India.” Trevo, an intra-city bus pooling service, is Jain’s next venture. “Now we’ve started our next journey (like we promised), have come out wiser and stronger, and it gives me great pride to announce our next venture, Trevo,” wrote Jain.

India doesn't have official data for failed start-ups but a global estimate is three out of four startups fail within two years. Now Satyan, Jain and several others such as Sourav Karmakar are bouncing back and starting again. When asked about coming to terms with shutting down his first start-up, Sourav Karmakar says, “Its was initially hard because of the emotional attachment.”

Karmakar co-founded SASLAB Technologies, an information security and services start-up which shut down. A year later he started a hyperlocal delivery start-up Happy2Deliver and claims to be gaining traction just three months after its launch.

Failing fast and starting new is a good trend, say analysts. “There is more appetite for failure both in entrepreneurs and early-stage investors,” says Sharad Sharma, an angel investor and founding member of iSpirit, a body that promotes start-ups and product firms in India.“Earlier, first-time entrepreneurs used to go to a mainstream job upon failure. Now they give it another shot. This is a positive development as they are more thoughtful and mature in the second go.”

Investors give more value to a founder that has failed in the past, says Satyan who was with Microsoft Ventures before starting on his own. “The space is so different from working in a corporate job that the only way you learn is by making very risky decisions and failing,” he adds.

First Published: Sat, October 10 2015. 22:13 IST