Monday, November 14, 2016

From sure to shore

We often read about a startup getting funded by a bigshot investment group. For some reason, we tend to assume that it’s a recent fad. Companies like Google and Facebook, with their roots in Silicon Valley, make us believe that entrepreneurship needs to have a technological touch. This might not be the case always but the glowing stars in the Internet Era are often the ones who accepted technology wholeheartedly. And they continue to inspire budding entrepreneurs to take risk. Most often, the road to success gets cockblocked by the lack of capital. Which is where the investment groups enter the picture. Convincing the financiers that their investment would be worth it (read: profitable) is not a child’s play. Serial funding lies in the future. In most cases, the young entrepreneurs fail to even bag a discussion room with the moneybags. Nowadays, we read about companies that are based in XYZ country but is funded by people who are based in MNO country while the market for the final product is in ABC country. We call it globalization. However, wasn’t this the case, say, 500 years ago? When the European powers were rising mainly because of their curiosity to know what lies on the other side of the sea (a curiosity that the Asian powers didn’t harbour; no pun intended), a lot of navigators came forward with their business proposals. They were sure about the riches that laid bare open on foreign shores but the tough part was to get someone to fund their exploration. They went from the kings to the merchants to the banks—whoever was willing to listen to their ideas—so as to fund their naval trips. In this scheme of things, the explorers weren’t any different from the entrepreneurs of today. They too vied for a dream that could result in a nightmare while firmly hoping it didn’t. They too wanted sugar daddies to help them put up the hull. Which might explain why an Italian guy named Christopher Columbus got funded by the Spanish monarch for an idea that had more to do with India than anywhere else.

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