Nitin is Country Director for Vietnam, Cambodia & Laos at Google. We got to know each other through a common entrepreneur/investor friend. He has a vast amount of industry, digital & eCommerce experience so it is always great to catch-up once a quarter with him. Enjoy the interview below and learn from one of the industry leading professionals.
What does entrepreneurship mean to you?
Couple of things: risk & reward. In specific, the ability to balance those two & showing of commitment. Because it is a massive commitment. At various points you feel you are giving more than getting and various points you get more than you give. If this is an equilibrium over a long period of time then all is good.
What are you looking for when you meet founders?
First, how much they know about the space they are getting into. Secondly, how much skin they have in that game. And lastly, their ability to pull people in. Can they draw people into this idea.
What are business models that you like to invest in? and why?
I don‘t look for any specific verticals. But I try to look for business models that are looking to improve how something is done today. Looking to disrupt something that has a need for disruption. In addition, I am looking for things that are solving real problems. Conversely what I am not a big fan of: when someone comes and says „I wanna be the X of SEA“ – that for me is an alarm bell.
What have been your 3 lessons learned as entrepreneur/professional? What would you differently today?
Talk to people and try to build bridges: let me talk a little bit more about that. What I found in my role is to not write someone off too soon. You never know what comes out of the conversation. Talking to people is super critical.
Secondly, ask more questions than you are comfortable asking. From my observation: you tend to be comfortable asking the initial questions. The real questions come when you get into nuggets. This is true in many relationships: You never know what you get until you ask for. Lastly, stop looking for the West for inspiration.
What have been your 3 lessons learned as investor? What would you do differently today?
Get started. I think too many people are operating in the past. Meaning, developing too much time to create an investment thesis. Half the battle is just getting started.
Be bold. If you throw peanuts you get monkeys. Trickle in a certain investment. If it absolutely blows up you regret for not putting in more money.
Last but not least, “know when to hold them, know when to fold them” to quote a famous Kenny Rogers song. The song is called the Gamble.
In retrospect, I would do all of these 3 things sooner. When I was younger I was trying to find a perfect method/methodology. One thing I would have done differently: When I started 10 years ago I would put everything in a S&P500 index, my investment returns would have been 5-6x higher than when I started to invest.
If you would give an entrepreneur one advice – what would it be?
Smiling 🙂 That‘s a hard one. I guess while you are in be all in and smile.
From Entrepreneurs For Entrepreneurs is a weekly interview session with some of the most influential entrepreneurs, creators and investors. Goal is to share our lessons learned and help to shape the next generation of entrepreneurs.