Monday, March 5, 2007

The courage to startup at 41, and musings about the Singapore VC scene

I have been following a blog called "ADroolingStory" for the past few months. Actually came upon the blog from a comment at one of the innumerable India-VC discussion sites.

"ADroolingStory" is a very (very) short startup chronicle by Vaasu Gavarasana who is in the process of doing his own pure-play dotcom. What is interesting about this is that Vaasu holds a very senior position in a (major) firm. And he is 41. I salute the guts of somebody willing to drop all he has achieved so far, take a risk and go all out for it. And that too in Singapore!

The funny thing about Singapore is that it is very easy to setup a company. But very very very difficult to get any venture funding. The venture investors are very conservative, and would typically want a company to show positive cashflows before investing. Aree babba, why do I need you people then if I have positive cash flow?... It is mostly due to the profile of the venture investing community in here. Most VC funds here are corporate arms of companies like Singapore Technologies, or divisions of government entities like the EDB (Economic Devpt. Board). These VC divisions are run by people who are climbing a career ladder in the firm who do not want to create ANY loss by taking risks.

But the good thing for pure-internet startups is that you can bootstrap the venture a great deal without any funding. Open source software has wiped away the software costs, and hardware for running a 99% uptime operation is very cheap (Costs go up exponentially for more uptime and storage stability). You will typically need venture funding only if you are growing too fast and need to ramp up your hardware pretty massively. But then the VC's will be beating a path to your door.

So here's wishing all the best to Vaasu and his partners. Hope they keep everybody updated on their success.

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