Why Should there be no Funding Over a Cup Of Coffee?

By Ashwin Srivastava, Co-Founder & Director, Idein Ventures.
Why Should there be no Funding Over a Cup Of Coffee?

There has been a trend in Silicon Valley where various startups boast about how they have been able to secure funds over a cup of coffee with an investor. And some investors proudly talk about how it was love at first sight for them. The same trend has crept into the startup ecosystem of India since quite some time, and there are angels and angel networks trying to promote the idea. 

But let me throw some statistics to you. I know of at least a dozen Indian startups that started in the first half of 2015, received funding around the same time, and are on the verge of failure right now. There is a common thread in at least 10 of these startups analyzed by my team. All these startups do not understand the value of financial planning & management and like to drive themselves solely on their misplaced grand vision and hope of a change in the ecosystem. Another common thread is how they have spent their funds immediately after receiving them- majority of them took fancy offices on rent and made them look like Google. Some others started drawing more than market salaries for their founders, while some spent money in deals done over a cup of coffee, just like how their financial deal was done. 

The founders of these startups may have made some money and small fame, and they may live in the misplaced notion that 'Failed startups are as good as successful ones' to satisfy their deluded egos. But the fact remains that these are some amazing individuals who failed to achieve what they could have, simply because they could not give value to processes, structure and financial management. Some of them may get another chance at starting another company. But unless they make their acts right, they will fail again at the same rate in the same way. 

According to me, the core of this problem originates from the investors who do not guide these startups correctly. And also from those investors who fail to give enough value to old age terms like due diligence, team capability, financial projections, product roadmap, and so on. So, in order to save startups from failing without even getting the chance to struggle, let's get our acts right when we decide to fund a startup or associate with one in any form. 

There can only be a date over a cup of coffee, which should lead to a little fling, followed by serious courtship. If you decide to marry someone just because you feel that you have fallen in love with them on first sight, believe me, there's going to be a bitter end for your association. And funding is like marriage; it must follow the processes that help cement the association before its finalization. 

My advice for startups is, do not be a gold digger (and I mean this without any offence to a particular gender); believe in true love and seek the same. That's how you will receive appropriate funding with proper guidance.