The Dolphin and the Shark Summary Author says over time, I have defined three purposes in my life moving the needle on healthcare, entrepreneurship and supporting women. In healthcare, I am making strides with Emcure. On the women empowerment front, I helped Niti Aayog with its Women Entrepreneurship Platform; started a learning and networking platform called ‘Prerna’ for women at Emcure; anchored a show on women’s health called Uncondition Yourself with Namita Thapar and pushed our medical and marketing teams to scale our research and free diagnosis camps around women’s health.
The Dolphin and the Shark By Namita Thapar
The Dolphin and the Shark Summary
The Author says all investors need absolute clarity of thought in terms of what companies they would like to invest in. This ensures they pick the right deals that are a win-win for both the founder and the investor. How will I measure my success as an investor? Neither by the feedback on Shark Tank India, nor by the amount of funds invested or even the deals that I won from other Sharks. Rather, the glory will come from two metrics alone: one, if my founders scale as a function of my support and two, if they speak highly of their experience with me as an investor!
The 4FS of Namita Funding Framework :
Founder : I should see that fire in the belly, the drive, sincerity and humility in the founders and feel excited about being part of their journey. As an investor, you are always betting on the person.
Foundation : They should be solving a deep-rooted problem. I prefer not to invest in prototype or pre revenue ventures. I prefer companies that have at least INR 1–2 crore in annual sales so that they have established credibility and gained customer insights.
Financials : I look for founders who believe in fundamentals of cash flow v/s cash burn. For sure, during the growth phase, there is a time period when profitability takes a hit, but the founder must be able to demonstrate a clear path to profitability with specific milestones and a robust action plan.
Fit : The venture should fit my expertise and personality as an investor. I should be able to add value. I should be able to help in terms of my expertise in manufacturing, global distribution, marketing and finance.
Perfect Your Pitch
The Author says ‘You never get a second chance to make a first impression.’ This is one of the most brilliant quotes I have come across and it is absolutely relevant for this chapter. The founder gets limited time with investors and they have to plan, practice and make that unforgettable first impression. While ‘substance over style’ is definitely true—substance is paramount—the magic and impact of the right style cannot be discounted in today’s world.
Here are few key ingredients that make a perfect pitch:
Solve a Deep Routed Problem : Investors want to understand the purpose and scalability of the venture. The founder should be able to clearly articulate the problem and specifically state the Target Audience Market (TAM) that is impacted by the problem.
Narrate Your Personal Journey : This is the most important success mantra. A founder must nail this part! Investors ultimately invest in the person; they make a bet on their vision and for that, their personal journey must touch investor hearts. Educational background, family, who inspired them or what incident in their life inspired them to take up this journey, setbacks and learnings along the way. The investors must be able to understand and feel this emotional connect. Passion and conviction should shine through their eyes when the founder is speaking.
Know Your Numbers : Now this one is a non-negotiable. Just like understanding emotions is important, understanding numbers and the business plan is equally important for investors. A good founder must be so hands-on that basics like selling price, gross margin, SKUs, shelf life, sales mix, etc., must be answered with absolute clarity.
Stay Open To Feedback : This is one of the most important points investors look at. When we invest in an entrepreneur, it’s going to be a long journey and we want to be associated with people who are humble, hungry to learn and open to feedback. Very often, we saw Sharks loving the venture, getting impressed by the financials but passing on a deal just because they didn’t like the founder’s attitude and found them too defensive with mindblocks when it came to listening to Sharks’ suggestions.
Building Winning Teams
Talent wins and good talent is hard to find. This is why most leaders spend a lot of time in recruiting and motivating key talent. ‘People first’ … we have heard this so many times, but do we really know what this means and how to go about building these winning teams?
Here are a few insights into how winning teams are built:
Get the right Co-Founder : The importance of finding the right co-founder cannot be emphasized enough. At Shark Tank India, this was a common point of feedback from most Sharks. Depending on the identified gap, the founder was asked to get a technology or marketing co-founder.
Founder CEO vs professional CEO : This is one of the toughest questions a start-up faces. Founders bring passion, domain expertise, command respect from employees and are committed to a long-term play. But there are times when a founder can be a bottleneck when the venture scales. Sometimes, they find it difficult to be tough or let go of team members who have been with them from the very beginning, even when they may not be right for the business at that point.
Set the right Culture : In recent times, a lot has been written about the severe skill shortage of tech folks in the start-up ecosystem and measures being taken to hire and retain this talent. Keeping your key talent motivated and ensuring that they keep growing with the organization through challenging work, clearly defined growth paths and stock options is important. Encourage dissent, make it safe to fail and learn.
About the Author :
Namita Thapar is an MBA from the Fuqua School of Business and a chartered accountant from the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India. She joined Emcure as CFO, after her six year stint at Guidant Corporation, USA. Subsequently, her responsibilities grew to manage Emcure’s largest business unit: the India business. Namita is passionate about improving women’s health in India and promoting youth entrepreneurship. During the COVID pandemic, she launched a unique YouTube talk show on women’s health called Uncondition Yourself with Namita, which aims to provide authentic information and break taboos associated with women’s health.