Exclusive: Padmaja Ruparel, President, IAN Says that Entrepreneurs are the Most Successful Salesmen

Tanya Dubey | May 19, 2017, 09.17PM IST
Padmaja Ruparel, President, Indian Angel Network says that the idea of a pan-India angel community came to the founders in an informal meeting, “IAN was built over some spilled wine where we just decided to help people who were trying to be job creators instead of job seekers,” Ruparel told Business Insider.

When Ruparel left the corporate life she was looking for her next passion unseeingly not realizing that it was staring her right in the face, “We’d get ten business plans from TiE every day and then fight for investing in one of them. We decided to pick out one or two business plans and each of us invested in those two rather than making a high risk investment in each, which is the genesis of angel investing,” relays Ruparel talking about how it all started.
Adding Value Instead of Writing Cheques

More investors joined in through different business networks and IAN never had to market itself. “Every entrepreneur who approaches us gets advice from us and that’s very important for the brand we’re trying to build,” says Ruparel who insists on being formal in their dealings and always meeting in office as she desists the ‘casual’ culture associated with start-up companies. She feels that it is insulting to the entrepreneur who is taking the highest risk of his life.
Creating Social Norms

Ruparel says that social norms are what you believe in and if it works, you can sway opinion to your benefit. The rebel in her also resulted in her not having children because she felt that that was not a priority, and this is exactly how she deals in the office; by prioritizing what works for IAN.

IAN, which is one of Asia’s largest angel networks has invested in companies like Druva, WowMomos!, Staqu etc.

“The network has invested 125 crores last year and wants to invest another 500 years in the next four years, leveraging 1500 crores in the ecosystem,” says Padmaja whose vision is not just one fund.

IAN recently closed its maiden fund at Rs 175 crore which has a target of Rs 350 crore aimed to make early-stage investments in 150-160 companies in the next four years.

“We are now seeing that once early-stage companies that have raised half a million, next need funds in the $1-4 million range, which is a challenge. So, IAN came together to respond to this need to invest in startups so that they become stronger alongside mentoring and handholding. We are trying to help them raise anywhere between Rs 50 lakh and Rs 50 crore which will not only help them raise money faster but it is also quality investment that they receive,” she says about the pivotal fund.

Entrepreneur vs. Salesman

Padmaja believes that 75% of her investments are now about the startup team and not just the idea. “Entrepreneurs need to understand top-line and bottom-line before asking for investment. The startup founder needs to be a good salesman who is selling his belief to investors, his family, his team and eventually, the world,” Ruparel signs off, in style as perky 46-year old.
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