Home/ Companies / News/  Kunal Bahl explains how Snapdeal got its first angel investor

Snapdeal co-founder Kunal Bahl today shared the story on how the Indian e-commerce company got its first angel investor 14 years ago. In a Twitter post, the Wharton alumnus recalled "the story of how Snapdeal got its first angel investor 14 years ago, who still continues to be an investor in the company."

Calling it a tale of "kindness and serendipity", Bahl wrote, “One day, I walked into one of my management course lectures in college. There is a grey haired gentleman standing in front of the class chatting with our regular professor. Dressed casually, but with a glowing, happy face. I wondered who this was Thinking face Guest speaker it seemed."

“The class starts. And completely blows me away. This gentleman is gregarious, animated, excited, running between the rows of the amphitheatre style seating. He is not using notes - talking fast about how innovation in the world works. What entrepreneurship means and what it takes," the entrepreneur wrote in a Twitter thread.

“One question he asked in the class which got everyone guessing. ‘What does the entrepreneur need the most to succeed?’ The hint was that it started with 'P'. Students guessed. Patience? Perfection? Persistence? And some other good guesses. None of these was the right answer," he said.

“The right answer was.. Passion," Bahl added.

“I left the class completely and absolutely inspired. I had decided. I wanted to be an entrepreneur," he said.

After completing his education, Bahl took up a job at Microsoft while still nursing his passion for becoming an entrepreneur.

“Few years passed and while I continued to harbour my passion for entrepreneurship, as a foreign student it felt like a softer transition after college to take a job at Microsoft while I figured out how to pursue entrepreneurship in the US," he said.

Bahl's Twitter thread…

- As I knew the guest lecturer was an ex-Microsoft executive from the 80s & lived in the Seattle area, I cold emailed him to let him know that I had attended his class a few years ago & was now moving to the Seattle area. Being a 22yr old fresh grad I didn't expect a response.

- I got a response in 30 mins with an offer for a Malaysian food lunch at Malay Satay Hut, near Microsoft's campus. We met a few weeks later, had a fun conversation and decided to stay in touch. Bear in mind this was someone 25 years older than me and I had nothing to offer him.

- We met once a quarter after that. Same restaurant every time. Fun, inspiring conversations every single time about life, Microsoft, entrepreneurship, college (we are alumni of the same college).

- Now, Microsoft had recently applied for my H1B visa which got shockingly rejected (lots of info on Google about this incident so skipping details here) and that meant I had to suddenly leave the US as I wouldn't have a valid visa status to stay in the country.

- It was time for the final Malay Satay Hut lunch. We had a great conversation and while walking out of the restaurant, I mentioned to my friend (yes we were friends now) that my visa application was rejected and I will be leaving the US soon, and likely won't be back.

- He paused. And then, leaning against his Prius, asked me what my plan was when I go back to India. I told him my friend from high school and I were planning on starting a coupon book business, which we felt would have a lot of potential in India.

- He smiled and just said, "Let me know if I can help in any way in your journey."

I didn't really understand how someone who had never been to India, was not of Indian origin, had no context of the non-existent Indian coupons market, could be helpful.

- In any case, I thanked him, said a final goodbye and left.

- Fast forward 2 months, we started working on our couponing startup in India & quickly realised we needed money to put down as advance to the printing press who was going to print the first lot of coupon books. @rohitkbansal & I had invested 100% of our limited savings already.

- There was no angel investor ecosystem in India in 2007. Very few VCs had setup shop at that point in India.

Suddenly that conversation in the Malay Satay Hut parking lot flashed in front of my eyes. I emailed my friend and requested for a call.

- On the call, I explained in more detail what we were doing (things were mostly conceptual at that point), and mentioned that we need to place an order with the printer now and needed some ideas around who we could approach for funds. He listened silently.

- I finished & don't think a second passed that I heard back from the other end of the line. "I want to support you. I will invest."

A long pause at my end. Not only because I was surprised. But also I couldn't talk while I had an ear to ear smile on the face and tears in my eyes.

- There was no negotiation, no back and forth. We agreed on simple terms and within a couple of weeks we had the money that we needed to get our entrepreneurship journey off the starting blocks.

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Updated: 20 Dec 2021, 03:32 PM IST
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