Kumar Shiralagi has been managing high-performance investments and exits in technology companies for more than a decade. He has been a part of the Indian venture capital ecosystem since 2003 and has nurtured over 25 companies-serving on their board, helping them grow and managing exits. When evaluating prospective investments, he looks for crucial elements of a promising opportunity and analyzes current realities and proof in detail.
Kumar currently serves on the board of 10 companies. He has a PhD and an MBA from Arizona State University and holds 23 US patents.
What makes the job exciting
You get to meet a lot of young entrepreneurs, hear many interesting ideas, be it in technology or business models, and a chance to engage with some of them. Once you invest in a company and see it growing, you know you’re helping to build something impactful. It’s certainly the dream of the entrepreneur, but we play a part in helping those dreams come true. To see some of those businesses grow and make an impact in some field is rewarding. In this process, while we share our experiences, we also get to learn a lot on an ongoing basis and that is exciting.
Thoughts on startup success
You have to be an aggressive go-getter who can get things done. Look for alternatives if things don’t work out the way you’d planned.
You need to have a great sense of clarity on what you’re trying to do. I often say that you should write it down to see how cohesive it is and then articulate your story better so that you can get other people excited about it. The team running the company is very important — their ethical values, their thought processes. We invest in teams that can build and scale sustainable business in an ethical way.
To sum up, you need clarity in thinking, execution strength, the flexibility to change your goals based on market realities and the ability to stay nimble.
Views on entrepreneurship
My suggestion to entrepreneurs approaching investors would be to get the investors’ interest piqued. It’s like peeling an onion — one layer at a time. Don’t try to tell a potential investor everything about the project in the very first meeting itself. The goal of any such meeting is to make sure you are called back for another one. Of course, you need your elevator pitch, presentation and business plan and so on. But more importantly, provide the right amount of information for investors to absorb, comprehend and get excited enough to move to the next stage. That should be your goal.
What I like about Kalaari
Working with interesting ideas, companies, people and the opportunity to make a positive impact and bring about change for the better. Being able to help entrepreneurs’ dreams come true and learning from them in the process.