Parag Dhol, Managing Partner, Inventus Capital Advisors, Bengaluru, has been a venture investor for more than 20 years, backing nearly 30 companies resulting in 14 exits including three IPOs. Parag’s venture capital career began at ICICI Venture in 1993, where he was part of the core team investing in the country’s fast emerging technology, media and telecom sectors.
In 2000, he moved to GE Equity where he continued his early-stage investment focus. Inventus has committed nearly 70 per cent out of its second fund of $106 million. It finished investing out of its first fund of $52 million in late 2012. In these two decades in venture investing, Parag has seen a wide range of entrepreneurs and ventures. He says that when he started out, the entrepreneurs had nearly 20-30 years of experience in industry and were into offering services – CAD/CAM and the like. Now, the entrepreneurs are young, many hardly with any prior work experience, and come with plenty of ideas and are looking to change the sector they have entered, says Parag, 46.
Education: I took the beaten path: mechanical engineer from IIT, Delhi, and MBA from IIM Bangalore.
Prior experience: Corporate venture capital. I worked in ICICI Venture during its venture capital days, as against its current PE avatar. Then moved to GE Capital and subsequently to Intel Capital, before joining Inventus in 2008.
Sectors interested in: Technology, broadly speaking. Software, internet and mobile. I have generally been bottoms-up. That said, quite a few marketplace/two-sided networks and B2B software companies in our portfolio.
Investments: eDreams, FundsIndia, Power2SME, PolicyBazaar and Vizury.
Typical working day: There is no “typical” working day, but I end up spending time on Gathering – generating deadflow (panels at events); evaluating the ones we find interesting, as well as much larger number of those we have to say a no to – never easy; interactions with existing portfolio, including regular board meetings.
Hobbies: Too many for the 24 hours of the day. Movies, reading, swimming, running, cycling, watching sports (football, in particular), trying to be an Atticus Finch like father to my son.
Gadgets: Kindle, a relatively recent acquisition, for the way it solves the single-purpose use case. I love my Nexus phone, as well, especially the quirky parts of Android (unlike the other “idiot proof” OS it competes with). Am not a measurement economy believer, though.
Advice to entrepreneurs: In the current charged environment, would reiterate the basics – focus on customers, existing/prospective employees and partners.
The money/VCs will come if you do a good job there. Unfortunately, I see many entrepreneurs today putting the cart (VCs) before the horse (customers).