Investor Gautam Sinha–MyFirstCheque

My First Cheque, a seed fund, to write the ‘First Cheque’ for Indian Start-ups.

My First Cheque is a seed fund which will help start-ups and budding entrepreneurs realize their dreams by providing the initial investment (the first cheque) of INR 5-25 lakh.

The customized website encourages entrepreneurs with ideas for start up companies to approach My First Cheque, who in turn plays an integral role in seeding and mentoring them to success.

Represented by ‘Chequemate’ in the form of an online avatar, My First Cheque has a unique model of investing called co-fun investing. This entails evaluating a business as a potential co-founder (focused more on execution) and NOT as a traditional investor.

This unique model of seed investing is being introduced by three experts with more than 50 years of entrepreneurial experience, including successful exits, between them -Gautam Sinha, Prahlad Rao and Monisha Advani.

Gautam SinhaWe had an email interview with Gautam.

Q1. What made the idea MyFirstCheque click?

As first generation entrepreneurs, we know that the biggest barrier between starting your own venture and remaining employed is the 30th of the month syndrome! The risk of not getting salary from the next month stops most people from pursuing their dreams. This ‘first cheque’ (this could come from a customer or an investor) is what we are trying to provide so that more and more people can break out and become job creators rather than remaining job seekers.

Q2. How big is the fund?

Our average investment size is 20 Lakh and we plan to do 100 investments in the next 3-4 years.

Q3. What should an entrepreneur do to make you invest with them?

They need to visit our website www.myfirstcheque.com and mail us at istart@myfirstcheque.com with answers to 4 questions (details on the website). We will take it forward from there through emails, phone calls and then finally face to face meetings.

Q4. What sectors you focus on for investment?

We are sector agnostic and will back the entrepreneur/founding team and their ability to execute the plan

Q5. What strategy MyFirstCheque follows for investment?

We need to be the 1st cheque so will not invest in a venture which has already been invested in earlier by another external agency. We will also NOT invest in a company in which the founder/founding team is NOT putting in ANY money upfront as for us that will violate the fundamentals of entrepreneurship.

Apart from that we are open to talking with anyone who has a good execution plan to back an idea and can demonstrate a keen idea of who the customer would be and why he/she would buy from them.

Q6. Have you invested in some ventures?

We have done some angel investments in an individual capacity BUT as a fund we got formally kicked off only on the 15th of december 2010 so haven’t made any investments as yet.

Q7. What is the value of seed funding for an entrepreneur?

Our range is 5 lakh-25 lakh.

Q8. How it feels to be an investor from being an entrepreneur?

We see ourselves as mentor investors and in some cases even as pure mentors without any financial interest in a venture!

Personally, it feels great to meet /speak with 2-3 new entrepreneurs every day and try and help them crystalize their ideas and share with them some personal experiences so that they can be a bit more prepared when they encounter the same problems!

We know we cant fund everyone who talks/interacts with us but myfirstcheque is also an attempt to inspire more and more people to cross the line and become entrepreneurs.

Q9. How do you feel India is growing in terms of entrepreneurship from around 2000?

The environment has certainly improved and I see more respect for people who strike out on their own ! I am sure that the risk taking ability of a 25 year old today is higher than what it was when I was 25 (which is when I started) as there are more opportunities and India as a country is more confident about its future.

I think that as more and more role models start getting created with successful first generation entrepreneurs talking about their experiences we should see more and more people taking the plunge.

I also feel that the funding environment will change in the years to come and there will be more and more early stage funders (like us) and that will further provide the impetus for people to start their own ventures.

Q10. What are the essential qualities that entrepreneurs should have to be successful?

High self belief, perseverance and ability to withstand financial pan as businesses take time to bear fruit and sometimes one may have to tweak the model to make it work.

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