It is difficult to step out of your comfort zone and put yourself in the eye of the public just for supporting a cause.
Doing 14–hour shoots and staying away from your family for several weekends is not easy. Staying thick-skinned when you are brutally trolled, having to remind yourself of why you took this up, and continuing to stay authentic is not easy. Shark Tank tested every ounce of my inner strength both during the shoot and during the airing of the show.
I learned that it is always very important to stay kind and grounded, and it is just as important to invest only if you believe in the cause and can add value, to stay humble, and keep learning. There were times I made mistakes and judgment errors, there were times I rather played it safe but as we evolve as leaders, it is very important to learn how to show our vulnerability, to accept our regrets graciously, to keep improving and growing.
The entire shoot was done by December 12, 2021, and the show was launched on December 20, 2021. There were around 170 pitches I saw, I invested 10 cr in 2 companies that won my heart.
Following are the criteria I look at while deciding where to invest:
Founder - the fire, the drive, the sincerity, and humility in the founders should be clearly seen. I should feel the excitement to join their journey.
Cause - it should solve a deep-rooted problem.
Proof of Concept - I like companies that have already established credibility and gained customers' insights having at least Rs 1-2cr in sales. Founders who have already had their share of hard hits would rarely fumble when asked questions.
Expertise - It should be inside my boundary of expertise in manufacturing, global distribution, marketing, and finance.
Networks - I should feel that the founder can benefit from my networks in terms of investors and business leaders across diverse industries who can collaborate with the founders of my portfolio companies.
Fun-factor - The product should feel fun and trendy and I should feel excited to be a part of the industry.
Apart from that, I do have a special interest in healthcare deals and ventures with women founders.
My investment framework was guided by Sanjeev Bikhchandani and Sandeep Murthy and my greatest gratitude goes to them.
Some of the deals that won my heart are Altor helmet, Thinkerbell labs, AAS Vidyalaya, Brianwired, and Kabbadi Adda.
Deals that come under my expertise in healthcare would help start-ups like Menstrupedia, The Renal Project, Spandan, Beyond Water, Tagz Foods, and Color Me Mad.
Deals where I felt the fun element, where my networks would help them scale are Auli Lifestyle, Skippi IcePops, Wakao Foods, Nuutjob, Bummer, Nomad, Find Your Kicks, Storage Company, Cocofitc, Sneakare, and Farda.
I'm not planning to be the passive investor for any of my deals, I rather want to be their mentor, sounding board and help them with my business knowledge and networks, celebrate their journeys, and help them scale.
Leaders like me have to be bold and ensure they become successful so that entrepreneurship does not just become a dream for those who have the right education and resources but also for the common man. This is one of the most important responsibilities as business leaders as we have been blessed with power and privilege, people look up to us so it is our responsibility to provide them with the resources they need. Not investing in Kamlesh and Pandurang remains my biggest regret at Shark Tank India.