First Coffee Ventures is an early-stage investment group focusing on high-growth ideas in the technology and consumer brands space. My choice of startups is focused on large markets, at post-prototype stage, and founded by strong, passionate entrepreneurs.
I am often asked about my anti-portfolio and I call it my “false positives" investments—which I define as an investment error. In early 2015, a friend told me about Rubique (then BestDealFinance.com), an online marketplace that provides technology-enabled end-to-end loan fulfilment solutions for individuals and MSMEs. This is one startup I chose not to invest in, and now, it has grown into a successful company.
While I strongly believed in the founders’ ability, my concerns were two-fold. First, there was a preconceived notion based on what I had seen in housing sector that it is just not possible to remove the middlemen and drive the entire process using just technology. Second, I was also concerned that the company’s valuation was quite high, given the stage of the business back then.
For me, every false positive is a learning experience. The key learning from this was that one should learn to ignore inherent biases when making investment decisions and trust a founder with proven execution skills, especially in a large marketplace. One should learn to move quickly and take a leap of faith rather than focusing on what is missing. I do realize, however, that expecting a 100% hit rate is unrealistic and an anti-portfolio is inevitable.
In my anti-portfolio, I would like to honour companies whose success inspires my endeavour to enable an ecosystem that will encourage young and first-time entrepreneurs to take risks and work towards achieving their dream. A loud cheer to all the great ones that I have missed!