At the VC Circle Growth Capital Forum held in Pune on 4 April, entrepreneurs took notes as diligently as college frontbenchers. The panel of venture capital investors, with their powerpoint presentations, was doling out tips such as “flattery gets you everywhere with self-doubting investors” and “paying investment bankers more than 3% is extortion”. But, the promoters may not have realized that the best portal into the world of their potential investors was the host of the conference.
Imaging: Malay Karmakar / Mint
VC Circle is a blog housed at www.vccircle.com, which uploads the latest news on Indian deals. This blog is read every day by many, if not most, venture capital investors in India.
Blogs, easily managed online journals free to setup and update, have become important to India’s venture capital community. They help bind this nascent community together. They also go beyond the information and gossip that newspapers, magazines or websites offer. And blogs are open to anyone for comment, thus often becoming public platforms for debate and discussion.
“The entire industry is being tracked on a more intense basis (on blogs),” says Anurakt Jain, analyst at Draper Fisher Jurvetson India Advisory Services Pvt. Ltd. He adds that blogs can serve the purpose of a trade publication. “The advantage, or disadvantage, is that it is very informal.”
Venture capital investors in India usually look at blogs to keep up with news or get more information on a company or industry they are looking to invest in. Ashish Sinha, of the blog Pluggd.in, says, “Venture capital investors do look for outside validation of a start-up product.”
Sinha has a daily readership of 5,000, with 80% of the visitors from India. The rest are from the US, Europe, Australia and Pakistan, which signals another major benefit of blogs for the venture capital community (entrepreneurs included): Blogs provide access to on-the-ground information in sectors or countries that anyone, anywhere, can tap into. An American venture capital investor can get into the head of an Indian entrepreneur through Proto.in, or an Indian investor can read US-based blog Feld Thoughts. Twenty per cent of investor-entrepreneur Brad Feld’s readers are Indian, all reading his personal thoughts on the industry.
Indian investors read foreign blogs to be aware of competition and to get new ideas. And, they are expecting entrepreneurs to do the same. “Entrepreneurs, particularly those in Internet and mobile, have to recognize that they are not just competing in an India context, but they are competing in a global one,” says Clearstone Venture Partners director Rahul Khanna. A company Khanna invested in, Games2win India Pvt. Ltd, tracks a blog, Gamasutra, to follow trends in advertising for online gaming.
In more ways than one specialist blogs help both investors and entrepreneurs stay on top of their game.
For new entrepreneurs or anyone interested in ideas and deals, here are 10 blogs and websites popular among Indian investors
# VC Circle (‘www.vccircle.com’): Sahad P.V.’s site puts out news and gathers articles from major publications (including ‘Mint’) on Indian venture capital, private equity, and mergers and acquisitions.
# GigaOm (‘www.gigaom.com’): Clearstone director Rahul Khanna says, “What appears on GigaOm is a leading indicator of what the mass media will be talking about six months from now.” This American blog specializes in emerging technology.
# The Proto.in Blog (‘www.blog.proto.in’): This Chennai-based blog is run by a local entrepreneur who speaks not as a journalist, but as an active member of the entrepreneurial community.
# VentureWoods (‘www.venturewoods.org’): This India-based blog brings in voices from about 75 different members of the venture capital and entrepreneurial community across India on topics from how to put together a good management team to the lack of angel investing in India.
# VentureBeat (‘www.venturebeat.com’): The US-based start-up tracker specializes in gathering coverage in digital media, clean technology, life sciences, and mobile and communications, such as an April article on Engage, a California-based site that enlists users’ friends to help them find a date.
# Pluggd.in (‘www.pluggd.in’): Ashish Sinha, who has a day job as product manager at an Internet firm, says he blogs because “most of the entrepreneurship-supporting organizations aren’t too relevant to bootstrapping entrepreneurs”. And he brings that perspective when he writes on start-ups and “VC ‘gyaan’”.
# TechCrunch (‘www.techcrunch.com’): This US blog is about Internet products and companies, and was described as a “power broker” in ‘The Wall Street Journal’ (which has an exclusive content partnership in India with Mint) a little more than a year after its launch in 2005.
# Emergic.org (‘www.emergic.org’): Rajesh Jain, who once famously sold IndiaWorld to Satyam Infoway, says he writes his blog to connect with people he would otherwise not have possibly reached. He writes on just about anything, from attending the annual GSM mobile industry event in Barcelona to his life story, which has so far drawn 44 comments.
# DealBook (‘www.dealbook.blogs.nytimes.com’): ‘The New York Times’ blog presents a daily round-up of news about deals and deal makers, along with special columnists.
# The Kamla Bhatt Show (‘www.kamlabhattshow.com/blog’): Her blog has a theme broader than venture capital: “Life, People and Ideas”. But because she broadcasts from San Francisco and Bangalore, she naturally has pieces that appeal to investors and entrepreneurs.