198th 1M/1M Roundtable For Entrepreneurs: Spotlight on Kae Capital, India
During today’s roundtable, we saw a couple of entrepreneurs from the portfolio of Kae Capital based in India.
First up, Farooq Adam, working with Kae Capital from Mumbai, India, pitched Shopsense, a retail technology solution that enables brick-and-mortar retailers to place large tablets at their stores, then offer recommendations to shoppers, replicating an e-commerce like experience in stores.
Shopsense has several customers, and a validated product and business model. They believe that their largest market will be North America, which I think is true.
One thing that made me scratch my head with this company is that the company is planning to register in Singapore, yet raise money in the US and market and sell to US enterprise customers. In my experience, US investors prefer investing in entities that are incorporated as Delaware corporations. So I am skeptical about the advice Shopsense is getting about registering in Singapore.
Next, Shalin Tejal Jain, also working with Kae Capital from Bangalore, India, pitched MetisMe, a one-click solution to storing email attachments in the cloud. Shalin has 6000 users who are giving him good feedback, and one of those is a request for workflow tools.
I asked Shalin a question: is this a feature or a product? It’s a very common question that entrepreneurs get asked.
The danger of trying to build a company around a feature without a well thought through positioning and game plan of how to compete with large incumbents is that in one move, you can be rendered unviable.
In this case, what worries me is that Box can include this feature in a heartbeat. There is no barrier to protect MetisMe from being replicated.
There are ways of competing in such markets, but they require very sophisticated competitive positioning work that the company currently lacks.
Then, Kamal Laungani from Mumbai, India, pitched Fund Zippy, a rewards-based crowdfunding platform for Indian innovators, film-makers, and such. A KickStarter for India, so to speak. The space has competition, transactions (about 2 Crores worth this year) are happening.
My take is that this market will grow slowly. India is a low-trust society. Judging by the slow pace of adoption of e-commerce, as well as the small size of the angel investment available, I find it hard to believe that this industry will cross the chasm rapidly.
This, of course, reinforces what I have said elsewhere. There is definitely a business here. However, this business is a slow-growth business, and most likely, will not attract seed financing from professional investors very quickly. It may take a few years of bootstrapping before it turns into a fundable scenario.
We’re seeing this phenomenon across the board. Good, interesting ideas that offer real value, solve real problems, address real market needs – face hurdles getting off the ground due to the seed capital gap facing many eco-systems, including India. My Seed India: How To Navigate The Seed Capital Gap In India book addresses precisely this topic.
You can find the recording of today’s roundtable here.
Sramana Mitra is the founder of the One Million by One Million (1M/1M) initiative, a virtual incubation program that aims to help one million entrepreneurs globally to reach $1 million in revenue and beyond. She is a Silicon Valley entrepreneur and strategy consultant, she writes the blog Sramana Mitra On Strategy, and is author of the Entrepreneur Journeys book series and Vision India 2020.