The Journey From An Entrepreneur To An Investor

“India has been an entrepreneurial society…we had the entrepreneurial skill but suppressed it for too long a time… and now it is thriving.”

As I sit down to write, these words of the renowned economist, T.N. Srinivasan, echo in my head. Entrepreneurs have long fascinated me – burning passion, a defined niche, a distinct style, and most of all a desire to leave a mark on the world.  I have made the journey from an entrepreneur to an investor myself, but the world of entrepreneurs continues to fascinate me.

Seven odd years have passed since I returned from the US. I came back to India after the brief (almost mandated!) study/work/chase success stint in the US with an urge to do something interesting, different even. A thought echoed by many others like me. The India I left behind is not the nation I returned to. The economy had opened up and economic liberalization was making its introduction to a people who had understood only a controlled economy. And I came back at a time when the government, media, academia, indeed Indian society itself was heralding a new hero – the Entrepreneur. Starting an enterprise is now seen as one of the most exciting vocations in the 21st century!

Today, after making the first investment, of what is probably India’s only HR focused fund (The HR FUND), I find myself nostalgic and thinking about change. Not just in terms of increasing numbers of entrepreneurs, or the ever growing presence of angel funds, or even opportunities thrown up by a growing economy, but change in the nature of the entrepreneur. I must admit that I don’t have documented market research on this, but my experience as an investor shows that Indian entrepreneurs are seeking mentoring, seeking advice, now more than ever. Saying they need help, they are hungry to learn the craft of successful entrepreneurship.

I started my incubator because I know that it takes more than money, passion and a market to be a successful entrepreneur. It needs an environment that can provide critical inputs and relationship networks. However, I feel that the skill, focus and values that the entrepreneur brings to the business, ultimately defines the nature of the business and the direction it takes. None of this is static; like with most human beings, the growth of the individual brings a change in attitude and direction. And in the gurukul tradition of incubation that I have set up, I find that while attitudes and directions differ, a pattern soon emerges that allows me to trace the path to success that entrepreneurs take.

My blog will focus on the growth of the entrepreneur, both the individual and the company he/she builds. I look forward to getting your feedback on my thoughts, especially those among you who have made the leap to become an entrepreneur as well as those who are still contemplating it.

Varun Talwar

(This blog was originally published in www.thehrfund.com.)

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