The MoonShot Game by Rahul Chandra

THE MOONSHOT GAME

        
Rahul Chandra

  Strategy, Startups, Leadership

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An insightful reality check of the VC and startup world

The most important thing that founders retained after meeting a VC was how they made them feel. Not how cool the office was or how smart the VC’s were in that space.

  • Establishing a human connection with the founders- their stories, triumphs, and epic fails led Rahul to feel more connected.
  • One of their outsourcing companies received an inbound offer for $100M which was squashed. They assumed that better offers would come. But they never came. 
  • Acquirers reaching out to companies is a unique blend of auspicious timing and luck. It does not happen every now and then and therefore must be dealt with utmost consideration.
  • RedBus was funded with around $10M and had scaled successfully. In 2013, MIH acquired a controlling interest in RedBus.
  • Helion believed that all startups that are destined for greatness would go through at least one near-death experience in their lifetime.
  • There was a funding frenzy during 2014 and 2015 and VCs were excited to fund bigger and were investing at an overwhelming pace.
  • The food-tech industry witnessed a boom in 2015 with more than 400 startups. Investors got tempted and funded such startups.
  • Another valuable lesson learnt is that startups in India cannot simply copy-paste successful models from the US or China, but instead have to construct uniquely models that suited the practicalities of the Indian market. 
  •  Regardless of any prior success, discontinuity arises at some point for every VC firm. For Helion, the reorganisation of the team took a back seat. 
  • With all the rift between the old and new partners at Helion, the 3 new partners quit in 2016 and went on to start their own VC firm Stellaris VP.

 

 

 

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Insight into the VC world from the lens of a VC veteran

The book gives an insider view into the world of VCs from the perspective of VC veteran Rahul Chandra and his VC firm Helion Ventures. Helion Ventures raised $600M in total, investing in more than 130 ventures like BigBasket, MakeMyTrip, RedBus. 

This book is an honest reminder about its harsh nature and the fortitude one needs to survive in the VC arena. The author gives us a detailed insider outlook on the adventures and misadventures being a VC brings. 

  • A key lesson is that becoming a successful VC requires one to master the skill and art of selecting. Admittedly this ability is developed by evaluating and analysing the countless pitches of various themes one has to listen to and envisioning the future with regards to those projects. 
  • Offers an in-depth understanding of the selection process of one of their most successful deal (MakeMyTrip) and how they survived near-death during the dot-com bubble burst. He also shares his insights on missing on great deals (BookMyShow).
  • Paytm pitched to Helion in 2017 and were keen to invest. Soon Paytm was locked in by a different VC who offered them the term sheet sooner than Helion. 
  • Rahul shares the lessons he learnt from unsuccessful investments like Ji Grahak and the perils that overzealous dealings can cause. 
  • Touches on the art of negotiations when it comes to making deals and describing various scenarios. 
  • Startups can have 3 different phases with regards to evaluating the success of funding them. This is usually 3 year period. Clueless phase, sane phase and then lazy phase. 
  • Rahul describes the fund's experience in the world of financial services with its investments in Spandana and Equitas. 
  • Equitas listed on the stock markets with almost $210M in private capital backing Helion's search for businesses with solid market demand which could raise late-stage capital on fundamentals.
  • The author points out the problem faced by non-tech companies that are funded by VC. They have to sort out the economics after they have established unprofitable methods.
  • E-commerce started gaining traction in 2011 with growing roots from 2008 and 09. Tiger Global invested $10M in Flipkart. Helion also believed India could not facilitate the capital needed to build a horizontal e-commerce business at the time. Vertical e-commerce made more sense due to constraints on capital in the market.
  • Helion ventured into the vertical with their investment in LetsBuy. They witnessed hypergrowth which was enthralling but also demanded enormous cash to expand. Eventually, their runway kept reducing and was bought out by Flipkart.

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