It was in October 2012 that I was introduced to Veeba Foods Services Pvt. Ltd founder Viraj Bahl over a lovely dinner with Ashish Chand from Yukti Securities and Deepak Shahdadpuri from DSG Consumer Partners. Both had already committed and I was being given a chance to co-invest.
During that time in my role at Google, I was so focused on tech deals, that I could not imagine investing in anything else. When pressed further, I concluded the “sauces" market was saturated (pun intended) with limited category expansion and had a small addressable market. There was no doubt that Viraj was a strong entrepreneur, but I underestimated the market opportunity. Besides, tech was sexy and sauces were definitely not.
Veeba has grown from a niche product and now also sells dips, salad dressings and even peanut butter. Its distribution footprint has grown tremendously and they have a thriving B2B as well. Industry sources indicate that I missed out on a 30X return with even more potential ahead.
Entrepreneur first, idea second
Spend more time to try and understand the entrepreneur’s vision. In this case, Viraj came from a family business of FunFoods and understood the market better than any investor ever could have.
There is a world beyond technology
I was so certain that tech businesses will be the only ones that will be venture capital backed that I did not look beyond at other markets. Nowadays, whenever a new deal comes my way, I always reach out to my network and listen to respective experts in other fields.
Continue to track the deal
Just because you missed out on a deal in the initial round doesn’t mean you cannot invest in the future. Remember, a company has a long road ahead and so does the opportunity.
Gautam Gandhi, former business development head at Google and an angel investor