Innovation can change the society for better

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Under the Spotlight we bring to you our mentors who with their experience and pedigree shape the transformative organizations of tomorrow. Kapil Raizada, Co-Founder of RailYatri, talks about what it is like to be a Mentor with IvyCap Ventures.

Q1. Tell us about your journey with IvyCap so far.

I have been associated with IvyCap for about 4 years now and have been witnessing the exciting phase of growth over the years. I have had the opportunity to be associated with 3 investee companies over this period. I believe that one cannot become a mentor by being 'assigned' to an organization - the role needs to be earned by the individual. Almost always there is a very smart and committed team with their own rich experiences already in place, and the role of the mentor has to be seen in that perspective. I believe that the first job of a mentor is to gain the trust and confidence of the management team, and that may require some time. That investment of time could be crucial to the success of the role of the mentor.

Q2. What professional organizations are you associated with and in what ways?

I am one of the co-founders at RailYatri, which is a start-up that leverages crowd sourcing and data-analytics to help long-distance train travelers take smarter travel decisions - both with regards to the journey and their travel spend.

Q3. What would your advice be to new age entrepreneurs?

It is very heartening to look at the increasing number of new age entrepreneurs who are trying to make an impact and change the society for the better. The focus and confidence that they bring to the table certainly bodes well for India as a country. While it is tough to give a generic advice, one of my assessments have been that sometimes even good ideas need a little bit of time to blossom into a success, and hence entrepreneurs need to be careful to separate validation & growth stages of business. One should avoid pushing for growth too early on, without going through the early iterations that can help refine the model that could help later down the road.

Q4. Your outlook on how 2017 is expected to pan out for startup investments in India?

If you are a start-up with a clear differentiation and validated product proposition, this could be the defining year to clearly extend the leadership in the marketplace. In general my sense is that 2017 will be a relatively tighter year compared to the past few years, and would help to segregate the real winners from the rest. It would, of course, also depend on the stage of the start-up and the start-up itself. For early stage companies, there may not be much of an impact and the investments would continue to flow in depending on the power of the idea. Start-ups that have progressed beyond should be prepared to go through a tough year as the pace of larger ticket investments seems to have slowed a bit. Companies that have planned ahead through this phase would stand a solid chance to emerge as true leaders in their space, as most of the weaker competitors can be expected to drop off during this phase.

Q5. Mentorship comes with lot many challenges. What inspires you to be a motivated and passionate mentor?

Yes, it is a difficult role and my personal motivation comes from being exposed to the sheer variety of challenges and getting to work with some really motivated & committed individuals. The mentor program gives a platform to share ideas & experiences based on what may (or may not) have worked earlier, and I believe that the process helps all parties involved.

Q6. How do you spend your time beyond work?

I am quite fond of racket sports and I try to be as regular as possible at my neighborhood club. With a start-up going on in the foreground, there is not a terrible amount of time left but as a family we do enjoy off-beat travel and try to squeeze in a couple of trips during the year. I guess it is a good idea to always keep a wish-list of a few destinations handy when you do get a chance.

About Kapil Raizada

Kapil is an IIT Kanpur and IIM Bangalore Graduate. He has more than 20 years of experience in the industry in Enterprise, Product Services and Mobile/Consumer VAS. Kapil’s expertise lies in launching multi-million $ Mobile VAS across operators spread in Asia, Europe & Africa.