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Business News/ Companies / Start-ups/  EXCLUSIVE | CarDekho CEO Amit Jain's investment strategy in Shark Tank India: ‘Pehle Banda, Phir Dhandha’

EXCLUSIVE | CarDekho CEO Amit Jain's investment strategy in Shark Tank India: ‘Pehle Banda, Phir Dhandha’

Amit Jain, CEO of CarDekho and judge on Shark Tank India Season 3, aims to nurture young talent and innovators while catalysing the development of a new Bharat 2.0 through the show. Check out his exclusive interview with Livemint.

Amit Jain, co-founder and CEO of CarDekho, on Shark Tank India (Mint)Premium
Amit Jain, co-founder and CEO of CarDekho, on Shark Tank India (Mint)

Amit Jain, co-founder and CEO of CarDekho, is one of the judges on Shark Tank India Season 3. He spoke exclusively to LiveMint’s Sounak Mukhopadhyay on his philosophy, strategy and mission to build Bharat 2.0.

What motivated you to join Shark Tank India as one of the judges?

As a seasoned investor and entrepreneur, my eagerness to nurture young talent and innovators, along with propagating an entrepreneurial mindset across India, has always been paramount. Recognising that entrepreneurship has permeated every corner of the country, with nearly 50% of startups originating from Tier II & III cities, I viewed the Shark Tank opportunity as a chance to guide aspiring entrepreneurs and catalyse the development of a new Bharat while discovering promising businesses.

Interestingly, most of the deal winners on Shark Tank did not hail from prestigious institutions like IITs and IIMs, underscoring the fact that entrepreneurial talent exists everywhere. My experience on the show has been truly enriching. In each pitch session, I engage with entrepreneurs addressing real-world problems through their innovative solutions. Witnessing individuals build startups from Tier II and Tier III cities is both amazing and heartening, unlocking a new ecosystem and paving the way towards a New India. Drawing from my journey of building a conglomerate, I sought to give back to India by supporting other entrepreneurs.

What advice do you have for upcoming entrepreneurs who aspire to pitch their ideas on the show?

As an entrepreneur who has been through the highs and lows of startup journeys, my advice to upcoming founders aspiring to pitch on Shark Tank would be: don't get swayed by funding alone, it's a milestone, not the final destination. Maintain your hunger and keep honing your product obsessively.

Connect deeply with your users and communities to understand their needs. Customise solutions focusing on customer-centricity rather than vanity metrics. Remain nimble to adapt to market challenges. Scale prudently only after proving product-market fit.

When you eventually pitch on Shark Tank, win investor trust by addressing concerns openly and keeping discussions transparent. Showcase your passion and persistence, which ultimately drive startup success. Leverage such platforms for visibility, but don't lose sight of your original purpose and vision.

The entrepreneurial path is never easy but immensely rewarding. With the right mindset and attitude, any obstacle can be overcome. I've made my fair share of mistakes but learned from them. Stay committed and let your customers' voices guide you.

What are the key qualities you look for in an entrepreneur or a startup team on Shark Tank India?

My philosophy for judging entrepreneurs on Shark Tank India is simple: "Pehle Banda, Phir Dhandha". It means that I value the person first, then the business. My primary focus is the individual – one’s life journey, entrepreneurial spirit and the [back]story that shapes the journey.

My investment thesis centres around three key questions: — Are you looking to engage with a wider audience? Have you identified the right white space in the market? And finally, are you hungry for the dream you want to pursue and realise? The responses I get determine my decision to invest.

How do you evaluate a startup's potential for success when it pitches on the show?

When founders pitch their startups on the show, I carefully evaluate both the entrepreneur and their business idea. Most importantly, I look at how well the product or service solves a real customer need. I ask questions to understand if they have truly identified the whitespace in the market. Beyond identifying a market opportunity, the sustainability angle of the actual business model is crucial.

Also Read: Shark Tank India: Anupam Mittal left speechless at 'hum South Bombay mein rehte hain' comment | Watch video

Other factors that influence evaluation are the skills and passion within the founding team. Successful startups require determined, versatile founders who can wear many hats in the early days. I look for signs that the entrepreneur has the hunger and hustle to turn their ideas into reality. Their previous experiences and abilities need to gel well with the problem they are tackling. I also prefer entrepreneurs who show they can engage users early and incorporate customer feedback, as the ability to evolve the product is key.

Beyond financial investment, how do you support the startups you choose to invest in from Shark Tank India?

I believe that guiding budding entrepreneurs is as critical as monetary investment. I aim to actively guide young and emerging entrepreneurs by sharing hard-earned lessons from my entrepreneurial journey and providing access to invaluable resources. I aim to connect with entrepreneurs and advise them on crucial areas - from crystallising their vision to building their teams, governance, adaptable business strategies and prioritising profitability.

Also Read: Shark Tank India Season 3 Judges share tips before premier: ‘Focus on value creation’

I believe in both personal & professional connections with the founders. By understanding their vision and challenges intimately, I mentor them better across pivotal areas - whether refining business models, building top-notch teams, raising follow-on funding, or scaling sustainably.

My ultimate mission is to nurture a bright entrepreneurial landscape in the country and contribute to the building of Bharat 2.0, said Amit Jain
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My ultimate mission is to nurture a bright entrepreneurial landscape in the country and contribute to the building of Bharat 2.0, said Amit Jain (Mint)

Initiatives like the Girnar Elevate summit allow in-depth engagements for me to identify growth hurdles faced by our founders. Via customised interventions, I help founders relook at critical aspects like product-market fit, optimal fundraising strategies and building defensible moats against competition.

My ultimate mission is to nurture a bright entrepreneurial landscape in the country and contribute to the building of Bharat 2.0.

Finally, are the fights on the show real? Or, just for fun?

Everything you see on Shark Tank India is completely real and unscripted. I would not characterise the heated exchanges on the show as "fights" – they are more differences of opinions that can naturally arise when astute investors analyse business ideas and negotiate deals.

Also Read: Shark Tank India Season 3: OYO Rooms founder Ritesh Agarwal picks Bollywood actors who can be great judges

What may come across as fights is often just passionate investors having contrasting viewpoints or investment thesis. At the end of the day, we sharks have great mutual respect for each other's business acumen despite some disagreements. Our goal is to back the best entrepreneurs and help them achieve success.

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Sounak Mukhopadhyay
Sounak, spinning the digital news scene since 2012, crafts trendy articles for LiveMint.
Catch all the Corporate news and Updates on Live Mint. Download The Mint News App to get Daily Market Updates & Live Business News.
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Published: 20 Feb 2024, 09:27 AM IST
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