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Episode Number 237 / December 18, 2023

American Venture Capitalist Explains India’s BRIGHT FUTURE by 2030

1 Hour 11 Minutes

Episode Number 237 / December 18, 2023

American Venture Capitalist Explains India’s BRIGHT FUTURE by 2030

1 Hour 11 Minutes
Listen on

About the Episode

This week’s episode is about India’s BRIGHT FUTURE by 2030… as we welcome Bhaskar Ghosh of American Venture Capital firm 8VC to the Neon Show!

How Much Has Bangalore Changed In The Last 30 Years?

Is SaaS The Future of India?

What Role Is India Playing In AI?

All these CAPTIVATING topics and more in this HONEST conversation. A deep dive into whether is equipped to grow to the next level & how Bhaskar thinks about where India’s future will be by 2030… Tune in NOW!

Watch all other episodes on The Neon Podcast – Neon

Or view it on our YouTube Channel at The Neon Show – YouTube

Bhaskar Ghosh 00:00

I think given the current geopolitical situation, I think the USA has rightly adopted a very strong bid with India stance. I really really want to see that you know, grow 100x If not 1,000x. In a way, sales in the US are easy. At least I think you as buyers are very deterministic

 

Siddhartha Ahluwalia 00:21

You are essentially a US-VC right?

 

Bhaskar Ghosh 00:23

I am a US-VC

 

Siddhartha Ahluwalia 00:24

You invest 90% of your resources, time, and money in the US market. Yeah. What made you take the first trip five years back to India and why have you been coming again and again?

 

Bhaskar Ghosh 00:36

But you know, VCs don’t succeed on their own right. It is a confluence of many things happening which is supply side of founders, what areas the founders choose to build in. And who do you sell it to? Build in India sell in the US is not a trivial thing. US go to market is a very complex multi dimensional matrix. It’s not you know, one script for there is no silver bullet. There’s no silver bullet, you should learn from the Zoho and FreshWorks script. That’s just one of 10 scripts, the one of 10 markets need for software, need for data, need for good apply.. applied AI products is going to be massively in. I’m still inflecting and both need to move very clear..

Siddhartha Ahluwalia 01:22

This is Siddhartha Ahluwalia Welcome to the Neon Show. Today I have a very good friend with me. Bhaskar Ghosh partner at 8VC. Bhaskar, You have very interesting and unique background, right. Would love to dive deep into that first. And because you move to India, very young, right? Sorry, moved to US very, very early in your career, right. Just after your IIT KGP.

 

Bhaskar Ghosh 01:47

No, I dropped from IIT KGP. And then I did my undergrad at Jadavpur, but yes very similar.

 

Siddhartha Ahluwalia 01:52

And you went for a PhD at Yale?

 

Bhaskar Ghosh 01:54

I did. Yes. Yes. Yes.

 

Siddhartha Ahluwalia 01:56

And after that you serve 20 years in the best of the tech there.

 

Bhaskar Ghosh 02:04

Anyway, thanks for having me. I know this is short notice. Amazing studio. Thank you. You guys are doing amazing stuff. Very, very, very, very grateful to be here. Yeah, I think as I’ve told you, I think so for those of you don’t know, Siddhartha and I had a great time at SaaStr. Yes, we became friends. And then I went to your party. Yes. And I think we met and spend time here at Leela, and then very grateful to be on the show, which I was unaware that it’s one of the big shows. So thank you for having me on. Yeah, I mean, you know, journey. You know, I’m an accidental VC, as you know, my partner at the firm Bay we are from 8VC. Yeah, I mean, I was fond of computer science, did a PhD. And then spent about a couple of decades in industry, I was very fortunate to write a lot of code, build a lot of products. And also build was lucky to help build great teams at Oracle, and then Yahoo, and then LinkedIn, and then a tiny FinTech company called NerdWallet. So yeah, I think a lot of the experiences I would say at Oracle at Yahoo. Shaped kind of my professional worldview and culture. And yes, these were, these were companies, which were both pioneering companies, which largely stood the test of time, and also had an amazing culture internally. And one of the funny things now looking back as I work with a lot of entrepreneurs, is the culture inside. Yahoo. And LinkedIn was very entrepreneurial, you took initiative and you move fast, all that stuff have. And all of this, I think, kind of accidentally prepared me. In I had a reverse career in the sense I’ve gone from larger and larger companies to smaller and smaller companies. And now, as a partner at the firm, I also start companies myself, so you know, I’m, I’m a fake founder, also working on my third startup now. Yeah, it’s been a great journey. And the whole VC thing is a complete accident.

Siddhartha Ahluwalia 04:12

And at what age you became a VC?

 

Bhaskar Ghosh 04:14

This I’m not going to answer. But you should assume you can do maths after my undergrad and PhD and then spending over 20 years Yeah, so I was not a young spring chicken while priding myself that I can still outwork you guys, but yeah, I think later than most people. And also, I think becoming a VC was accidental. I came to 8VC to start companies, right? And then accidentally wrote a check in and then we now have a very flourishing and large practice in both b2b SaaS and enterprise infrastructure software. And you know, we are very excited about the India US corridor, and I’m sure we’ll talk about that in great detail. But yeah, I think AI, Data, Cloud security, Infra, Open source, all the horizontal themes are seriously important to us. That’s what I focus on. And then I do a bunch of b2b SaaS, also, in terms of happy to talk about other aspects of my journey if you have questions, but yeah, I’m very fortunate to have spent the two decades building stuff and, you know, building software building teams, teach, it teaches you things that you can’t learn in a book. And I see. And the hope is that as we help and support entrepreneurs in their journey to, take to go through startups in different phases, some of what we learned in our past lives will also be useful. Whether the entrepreneurs are sitting in Bangalore, Chennai, or they’re sitting in San Francisco, New York, you know, that’s the whole.

 

Siddhartha Ahluwalia 05:50

So the another thing you know, what I wanted to ask to you is, before independence, or during independence, the time of independence. Calcutta was the or Bengal was the hub of scientists, the biggest intellectuals used to come from science and tech.

 

Bhaskar Ghosh 06:09

We are the first I think I might be getting this wrong, but the first Indian built, engineering university was called something else. It’s what became Jadavpur. The first not started by the British, right? Yes, but what you’re going to ask, me hard question. And

Siddhartha Ahluwalia 06:29

I call you a “Modern Scientist”, right. So why is Calcutta or Bengal decreased in producing the talent right? Today, Bengal should have been the tech capital.

 

Bhaskar Ghosh 06:42

100% agreed. You ask a very good and very difficult question. I can give you an outsider’s view. I would say yeah, I think the undergrad engineering colleges like Shipur and Jadavpur were absolutely world class during our time. And of course, physics, chemistry, maths, in places like you know, Presidency College was absolutely world class. I would say two things have to keep on happening. For a city like Calcutta, you know, city like Calcutta became pre-eminently important, because of the British, you know, the Bengalis kind of absorbed stuff, not just English and thought big. And it was the capital of the US Empire outside London and 1919 that late, okay. And then, you know, they moved to Delhi. Yeah. So, the university system laid down by the British, you know, it was like, the holding company was Calcutta University, and they had all these amazing colleges below, right, a huge collection 50 plus. So very scalable and thriving system. But for something like this to grow, two things have to happen hand in hand, other than political stability, which Bengal did not see. The 60s -70s saw massive instability. And I would say, govern-governing to make sure businesses are growing is extremely important. And I think during the rule that we had for 30 years, that systematically did not go well. While rural agriculture and development in villages I’ve heard and I’m not an economist, I have heard it went very well. But cities you know, you also have to create new cities. For a large state like West Bengal, you need three cities, four cities, not one. I think development of urban centres, but development of businesses and attracting capital from other parts of India is very important. I don’t think that happened well, and that means employment jobs are not getting created in a nonlinear way. The things that way say Hyderabad, Andhra, now Telangana, Karnataka, Bombay actually did number one. So it’s about governance and the political situation. Number two, is this partly politics, I think the academic campuses even by the time we were leaving, for the USA, there was too much instability and government controlled academic campuses you have to maintain standards, while there will always be nepotism and in a democracy, it you have to keep it to 20% 80% has to a meritocracy. I It looks like that is where I think Bengal really did not execute when other states did. I would say the confluence of work culture and attracting business and kind of not just Jadavpur and Shipur but you know, you know IIT Kharagpur is there. I’m sure a lot of the undergrads come out of there would have stayed in Calcutta right during our time, I would say Bengal missed a major major major major bet at that time, because given if you look at culturally love of learning, structured thinking everything all of that is very much there in the culture. So there is absolutely no reason why the initially the you know, IT services hub and then the product hub of India shouldn’t be Calcutta. So I have no good answer for you, and if you look at my time right now, I’ve been coming to you-back to India every year for five years now, you know, I have done a few investments, including Rocketlane, as you know, much of the network look at this podcast. Podcast is happening where Bangalore. RIght? So Bangalore and Chennai and even now, I went to Bombay. I mean, the interest in working with people like us is overwhelmingly high, especially, you know, we from 8VC bring a unique background. You know, I really hope that, you know, things infrastructure improves in Calcutta, but it’s a long journey. I would say it’s a multi-generational journey, right? The Bangalore explosion didn’t happen in one, one generation. Right? Even when we were in college, I remember Texas Instruments built a major development centre here, right? Cisco built a major development system, analogue devices built a major development centre in IIT Madras campus. So you’re talking about, what, 45 years ago now? 40 years ago. Right? So this is even before my time, I think late 70s. You know, when I didn’t, I couldn’t even spell Bangalore. So I think public private partnership has to come together. And it’s a multi-generational thing about those two items. One is maintaining academic excellence, and one is attracting capital and interest. So yeah. And that’s a long non answer, but you just hit a sore point in my heart but Yeah.

Siddhartha Ahluwalia 11:25

And, you mentioned about Bangalore has exploded positively. Right. Your spending most of your time.

 

Bhaskar Ghosh 11:33

I will not comment on the traffic(Chuckles). I will not comment on the road and city planning. You can comment on it. But, but yes, go ahead. What’s your question?

 

Siddhartha Ahluwalia 11:43

So my question is, and you mentioned it started happening long, long back, why?

 

Bhaskar Ghosh 11:48

Seeds were sold a long time back?

 

Siddhartha Ahluwalia 11:50

Why did it happen? How did it happen? Can you?

 

Bhaskar Ghosh 11:52

I don’t know. You know, I don’t know the answer. But I suspect the local leadership, both public and private level. And the politicians, they must have worked together. I mean, if you don’t create an environment for that, things don’t happen accidentally. Because when major companies like the ones I mentioned come in, and they’re not making a bet for five years, right? They want to be here for 50 plus years. So it’s a generational bet. Everybody’s intelligent, they’re looking at you know, are these people are going to be here today and gone tomorrow is more importantly, is the culture of decision making go. Is that just enough transparency? Boss. I’m sure that it was here. I know we Hyderabad at that time was a more thriving place from the Chandrababu Naidu time, I haven’t tracked it. But in terms of the IT hub in terms of consulting and services industry, you know, whether it’s Wipro, or I don’t know the split. I suspect, if you look at TCS and Wipro and Infosys, and you know, all of these companies, maybe it was an equal split, maybe Hyderabad was bigger, I don’t know the answer. But surely Bangalore and Hyderabad kind of road ahead. And Bombay didn’t need to act as it was already a financial services sector and banking was already huge, right? Still is. But I think there was a vacuum in the Indian execution side. And the leaders public and private leaders of these two cities jumped in and you know, gotta give them credit. And I’m guessing some of the politicians really, really went out of their way to attract investment and create, you know, speed right. Yeah, I don’t know is that is that kind of a little, Glad to hear what your memories is?

 

Siddhartha Ahluwalia 13:38

First, because IT services talent was brought here by companies like Wipro and Infosys. And what happened is the initial IT services talent, as they got, you know, the best of talent wanted to build their own products. So they started building products here in Bangalore, right? And slowly and steadily, right, because of weather, because of one’s place, become the talent bank. Just like bay area. All folks like I’m a migrant, I come from a place near Delhi. So I came here because of that, right? That is the talent hub, right? Anything where there’s a talent hub, when you give freedom to talent.

 

Bhaskar Ghosh 14:20

And all the network effects that Silicon Valley has been seeing for 30 Plus, you know, 40 plus years. The network effects I think are beginning to happen here and Multigen. Yeah 100% Agree. The other interesting thing you pointed out that I would love to learn more about is we had a conference in Goa that I was fortunate to be and you know, I got to talk to somebody like Nandan Nilekani briefly and I you know saw Azim Premji the you know, one of my big heroes I think is an amazing guy. It’s interesting that the Indian IT services consulting industry has actually reinvented itself over. Yes, right. It started as this Y2K thing. And then you know, it moved to Java and then you know, move to Data warehousing and Analytics. So it actually is not a monolithic thing. So, as they grew their services and they responded to needs in the American or European market, right? That is pretty amazing. And I would say, that also probably has contributed to this culture of being able to build more rather only to services, right, rather than only one call centres. Yes, I agree. So I suspect some day a book will be written by somebody who knows that,

 

Siddhartha Ahluwalia 14:55

Who knows the history of how?

 

Bhaskar Ghosh 15:32

History of how the internal culture changed? That’s number one. And I think they’re all operating at a massive scale now. Right. So I don’t know how much how flexible they are now, but time will tell.

 

Siddhartha Ahluwalia 15:42

$200 billion of revenue. Is, IT services today.

 

Bhaskar Ghosh 15:46

Yeah. Yeah. I think what is also interesting for us external VCs, and I think local VCs is also towards the middle of the IT journey services journey. And in Bangalore, and Hyderabad, all these big Silicon Valley firms started coming in. Right? I mean, we, during my time at Yahoo, and LinkedIn, I had fairly large teams sitting in Bangalore, and a few in, Hyderabad. And this was my that team’s reporting that was during 2006 to 2014. And at that time, Google was coming in in a big way. Facebook came a bit later, teams were sending in not just the QA and ops functionality, they have been to send core product functionality. So I would say, that secular wave started happening. And I suspect now I’m going to suspect that some of that culture, which came from old time, Yahoo, and Google and many others, some of them also contributed, and I don’t have data to prove it. But I’m suspecting if you look at this fairly pioneering internal companies, which are big now which are you know, filled with Phonepe, Razorpay, Zomato, Flipkart, Swiggy, which are serious companies, which are product companies, whether they were mostly b2b or b2c is a separate issue. These are product companies, and many other things. factors contributed to the growth including UPI, ONDC. A lot of the government stuff, but the product mentality kind of those things started feeding off of each other, that people from the Googles of the world would leave. And the Yahoo’s of the world would leave and would do the stuff in local companies, which are not US companies. I think that has been a hugely secular and important cultural and network building thing.

Siddhartha Ahluwalia 17:39

I can share a few examples, right? So Amit Somani is a partner at Prime Venture Partners. I used to work at Prime 4 years back. So he was one of those few senior leaders, like SVP or director products in Google, who was brought from Google US to Google India, in 2008, 2009, similarly, another VC called Rutvic. Right? He has a fund called Inventus. Now, they are called Athera. So he was also part of the same group, fantastic product leaders then Google sent back to India to develop. And obviously once, once you. Once talent, the best of talents starts happening.

 

Bhaskar Ghosh 18:18

And this team in India, yeah, that’s also an important part, right? There are, I know, a lot of the Flipkart talent, which came from Yahoo, and Google and all of these companies, many of them have never spent significant time in the US. They stayed here. And that is, I think, extremely beneficial to the local ecosystem. Yeah, right.

 

Siddhartha Ahluwalia 18:39

Yeah. And right now, all this wave started also because, like folks like Nandan Nilekani, their stories that once UPI was launched, companies are not willing to adopt it because of just you know, a new railroad is getting built. So he used to visit entrepreneurs in Bangalore, he visited Sameer Singhal . At that point in time, that and Phonepe was really early and some other companies that can you start building on UPI. Wow, this is 2016.

 

Bhaskar Ghosh 19:06

Seriously, that happened very quickly. Now. I think the rate of innovation is growing. And, you know, there’s a lot of fundamental stuff around the financial infrastructure that probably started from the Manmohan Singh time and now has really flourished. And you know, the government has accelerated that stuff. Yeah, that’s pretty major. I think it’s major for innovation in India, in opening up the market and kind of delivering value or financial instruments to people much faster, just just with the mobile phone and idea. And very, very, very positive about that stuff. Yeah.

 

Siddhartha Ahluwalia 19:41

And you are essentially a US-VC right?

 

Bhaskar Ghosh 19:44

I am a US-VC.

 

Siddhartha Ahluwalia 19:45

You invest 90% of your resources, time and money in the US market. Yeah. What made you take the first trip, five years back to India, and why have you been coming again and again?

 

Bhaskar Ghosh 19:59

I mean, nothing, which is pretty common sense. I mean, we had heard about the companies that we mentioned. And we knew that there were very strong companies like Zoho, and FreshWorks, which are built completely quote unquote, natively. Right. And I, the other part is, remember, I had teams here during my past. But our portfolio in 8VC in a fairly accelerated way, a lot of the engineering teams are located here. So that movement was already happening. So even non-investment where I will say our investments were in the Bay area, but the engineering teams were sitting here, and maybe even a technical co-founder would come and spend time there and then India head would be hired, that secular movement had already started five years ago. So that was, it didn’t require deep intelligence. On my part, I would say the fact that there was energy on the ground that the fact that product companies will build will being built, the fact that SaaS was exploding was fairly obvious, you know, I mean, also I had the benefit of not being bitten by the cycles that even in the US, India, venture capitalist country, right, I would say there has been a cycle where things didn’t work, there was an early phase, I don’t know when 2011-12-13 or something I don’t exactly know much, much earlier, even early 2006, seven then.

Siddhartha Ahluwalia 21:30

  1. So 2000 to 2003, is when Kleiner Perkins and Mayfield started dipping their toes in India, so almost 20 years, almost 20 years ago. I think people who reaped benefits were those that setup proper shops in India, like sicko earlier, or Metrics or Axle. Axle, I think, took the largest bet among that, they acquired Indian VC firm called Erasmith.

 

Bhaskar Ghosh 21:30

Yeah, with Subrata is a very dear friend of mine. So I know him from my grad school days. Yeah, so but you know, VCs can don’t succeed on their own. Yeah, right. It is a confluence of many things happening, which is supply side of founders. Yeah. What areas the founders choose to build in? And who do you sell it to?

 

Siddhartha Ahluwalia 22:23

VCs don’t build ecosystems, VCs are catalysts, right? If there is talent, right, it’s. I have no shame in(Chuckles).

 

Bhaskar Ghosh 22:31

Shameful. I’ll let you finish.

 

Siddhartha Ahluwalia 22:36

If there is talent in an area of VCs will help catalyse through their expertise and capital.

 

Bhaskar Ghosh 22:41

Yeah, yeah. So I’m you’re probably mostly right. Yeah, I mean, I think that I think that’s also related to the India market growing overall optimism, money in the ecosystem. And what we found is we have a lot of friendly firms here, we love a lot of them. At least two of them said, Hey, exits, the US market is a little bit hard. We are doing well, our companies are selling well there. But IPOs are a little bit more infrequent. But we are able to get liquidity from the Indian market, because we’re also investing in India. Right? That was an interesting observation that the outcome sizes are not as large, as you know, snowflake IPO in the US. But the fact that the same fund in a judicious way is having this bimodal life where they’re able to get liquidity because you know, Indian IPOs are still going on. All of that is, I would say, contributing. Yeah, yeah. So coming back to your question. I don’t think there was any deep intelligence needed for me to come. I think the question was, what does success look like for us at 8VC?

 

Siddhartha Ahluwalia 23:46

That’s very important to why? What would it take for you to invest more and more time in India?

 

Bhaskar Ghosh 23:51

Yeah. So I think where I am, is I am now I’m still trying to make up my mind. Obviously, we have invested in some fantastic entrepreneurs, a couple of seeds here, Series A and Rocketlane. Quality of the founders in these companies is mind boggling. It’s what happened. Some of them are moved to the Bay Area. Just just want to call that out. I would say we from 8VC and I personally, we think about what is our unfair advantage? And what is the unfair advantage we give people? Right now where we are is we have very good friends with a lot of the seed funds and raise funds including Neon (thank you). Yes. And we want to stay that way. We want to probably write small cheque’s into early rounds, and do series A’s for companies which really want to work with us. It’s not going to be an easy journey. There is enough money in the Indian ecosystem more than enough money. And there’s enough money in Indian lead funds in the Bay Area, which is also working in the US corridor, right? So I would say I am at a crossroads of thinking, do I hire somebody here? Do I Have a team here Right now? I don’t think the answer is going to be yes, the answer may change. So we’ll do a couple of things in terms of strategy. One is we’ll keep on building our technical presence here. Because at a personal level, that is an unfair advantage, right? Given, you know, my build background, the technology background. So we’ll keep on having an 8VC CTO, counsel here, we’ll keep on doing this highly technical events here. And, and that’s one the other part is our portfolio companies are majorly moving there. And engineering teams to India, as I mentioned, large number in Bangalore, increasingly large number in Hyderabad, Chennai. And we see Pune as a hub that is growing very rapidly, and maybe someday good Gurugram and Noida also. I think we’re going to really double triple down on that, I think that’s going to be a very important thing for us. It also lets us be part, I personally like to be part of the technical network. People who are the CTO of EPs, who are the chief architects who are actually building software, complex software, and technical founders. So that is kind of our forte, I think that network building will continue for that I don’t need a partner sitting here will, you know, our team, and I will come back twice a year. So we’ll maintain a strong technical presence here, we’ll partner with funds like Neon, and a few others that we love, write small cheques initially in the hope of supporting entrepreneurs, and then leading a large Series A, I think that’s kind of how it’s going to pan out.

Bhaskar Ghosh 26:28

The other part we’re seeing is other than the technology part is, build in India sell in the US is not a trivial thing. We did an event last week, you know, one of our friendly, fun, special and we did an event about US go to market is a very complex, multi dimensional matrix. It’s not you know, one script for there is no silver bullet, you should learn from the Zoho and FreshWorks script. That’s just one of 10 scripts, the one of 10 markets. And the other thing we’re seeing is at least one founder, who is involved in go to market at some point in time early in the company cycle, has to spend time either in New York or in San Francisco. There is no attorney for that. And when you and I went at Saastra, we talked about that. And building that network out is what we are helping with our entrepreneurs, because and I think that value add is a very important value add from an 8VC San Francisco perspective. And, you know, I don’t know if you know, a lot of a lot of entrepreneurs who we haven’t even invested in, yeah, we, if it’s coming from one of the funds that we are friendly with. I My team and I get requests all the time, hey, can you guys give interest and we do that without any, you know, selfish interest, knowing that we may or may not do a deal there, that we will keep on doing because we feel it’s just the right thing to do being being entrepreneur first. So, US go to market helping in a strategic way, is a very important, unfair advantage for us. And 8VC has the benefit of being a multi vertical firm. We have very strong investments in and networks in supply chain, logistics, Insurance, FinTech, health IT, Bio IT, Defence. And you know, that is probably an unfair advantage we bring to the table. And we are happy to help entrepreneurs from here with that. So I think that’s how we’re going to approach it from now on.

 

Siddhartha Ahluwalia 28:28

And a successful outcome for you would be companies like Rocketlane, where you led (Inaudible) IPO in something like that?

 

Bhaskar Ghosh 28:36

Yeah, I don’t know. I feel I mean, obviously, we are in the business of returning money to LPs. So some sort of liquidity event. But in terms of midterm, yes, being able to participate in preseason seats with you guys. But leading is at the minimum base where we can build up ownership with that’s important for us and our LPs. And, you know, investing in high time areas, right? Where the time is large enough so that if a company executes Well, scales will build the right flywheel for product and for sales, that will be an outcome in mind. And whether it’s through an IPO or a large acquisition, you know, that part I could, but yes, that’s the journey.

Siddhartha Ahluwalia 29:15

Yeah. And you and I had a previous discussion that Indians, SaaS entrepreneurs, or maybe, you know, we can say, the product entrepreneurs, tech entrepreneurs, they are not building enough differentiated products. Would love your perspective on that?

 

Bhaskar Ghosh 29:35

That’s a hard question. I think there’s a macro phenomenon which us VCs in enterprise software have. We have to be cognizant. So if I broadly separate out the broad, if a broadly separate enterprise software out let’s ignore vertical SaaS for now, it’s a huge area collection of let’s keep that aside. But just for Horizontal software, let’s say there is enterprise infrastructure software, all things around data AI, DevOps security cloud. And then there is departmental SaaS, you know, which is sales, marketing, HR, so on and so forth. It things are crowded, us VCs have written a lot of cheques in the last 10 years. It’s not just about the India US corridor. Generally, I think from the India side, I don’t think enough is happening in the infrastructure side yet. That takes us certain confluence of factors that hasn’t yet happened. But SaaS side, I think departmental SaaS side, there is a lot happening. And there’s a lot of money chasing fewer entrepreneurs, I think building SaaS now, departmental SaaS now, given cloud services, given open source, given API’s, the engineering side is a little bit easier than it was 10-15 years ago. So in a way, it’s easier to start a company. So then when you start a company, you know, what differentiation? Do you think about off the bat, people don’t have a differentiation and go to market or distribution, right? And a side comment is, one of the reasons we stay interested in infrastructure is infrastructure in those 4,5,7..4,5,6 tiers. Open source distribution remains an unfair advantage, if you pick the right open source project, right, our company Acral, which came out of a very successful LinkedIn open source project called Data Hub. If you look at their unfair advantage, they have an amazing, you know, technical founder said amazing engineering team. But distribution is because of initially bottom up open source working network effect trade, coming back to SaaS. It is not an easy time. It’s not just about Indian entrepreneurs, let me make it even in the Bay Area, even in Seattle, and VC companies coming from New York and Seattle also largely from Bay area, it is not trivial to think of differentiation upfront, right? So where will differentiation be when things are when things are crowded? First thing to think about is, as people think about wedge, I mean, think about it? How will very deep, sticky, valuable departmental SaaS companies be built? Well, you have to capture a few workflows, which has high economic value, maybe high difficulty also because then not enough. But somehow you have to make something around data work lots of data as you’re brought in integrated the whole Palantir story. Palantir was founded by the founder of 8VC. So you then you start thinking, as you bring in as you work with more data, and you win more workflows, and people pay for it. Very sticky. SaaS companies tend to be built where there is some platform and data marketplace somewhere. If you think about ServiceNow, they’re still sitting on this data mode, which is their CMDB. Just think of Salesforce, they’re still sitting on what is essentially a database, which is their CRM database. Same is true for Zendesk same is true for ServiceNow. Same is true for many, same is true for Workday, if you look at Rippling, while they have built common data model so that they can move from department to department. Ultimately, they’re trying to build a data model. Now how such companies are possible, you can start with a wedge, I would ask those questions that doesn’t that shouldn’t dissuade entrepreneurs from doing b2b SaaS, and I say it again, it’s not about India or US founders, any founder. But what we have found interesting is second time founders in these areas tend to have thought of that a bit more, who actually played there, we see a little bit of more like, insights around, okay, I’m gonna go in with this Byjus case, I know the economic value and the budget geometry I’m going to hit. But finally, I know I’m going to go after that other (Inaudible) case, and I’ll get a larger data footprint, while probably thinking like that is going to help. And we love to see that from an 8VC perspective, we love to see that that’s kind of put it in that positive light. And I would say, having those insights are harder, and I’ll make a judgement call. Now, having those insights are harder for first time founders. Because you really have to go build in these departments to know what is true, what is not true, how our budgets deployed, what the difficulties of workflows are. And do you even need a source of truth system which is different from saying here? So I would say we from 8VC like to hear entrepreneurs who have thought about this a bit at the beginning. That’s about it and then you know distribution in SaaS departmental SaaS tends to be hard. If you look at Rocketlane, what Sri and his founders, his co founders have done is They have built a community around them. Yeah. Right. They’ve almost tried to create create a category. Right? And I mean, you know a lot about, you know, Sri extremely well. Is that a pattern? Don’t know the answer. But that’s an interesting thing to observe. Like, if you want to go play in SaaS, do build an adoption community there. How do you tell the story? Look, ultimately secularly the need for departmental software will become paramount unless Gen AI comes and we don’t need software anymore. They’ll probably happen after my career is over. Good luck to you guys. You guys come back and tell me the story. Need for software need for data need for good apply applied AI products is going to be massively in me still inflecting that need in department tools, personas and budget is going to be huge. It’s already huge is only going to get so great software companies will be built in these areas. The reason I went on for a long time is the next level thinking by the founders is going to be very important. Around the more around go to market or distribution around maybe a player on data. We like to see that that’s all. And that doesn’t make sense. I’d be curious brief thoughts from your side?

 

Siddhartha Ahluwalia 36:12

It makes sense. I think where you play and where Neon play’s, we’ll see how it shapes it. But our half of our portfolio the folks that you have bubbled right and India, Clear field and Rocketlane. They’re all second time founders like we have backed Atomicwork very, very important observation. Yes. GTM buddy, FinCEN and like out of a 50 portfolio and 50 portfolio companies. Half of us our portfolio second time founders, who have built and sold SaaS. And now they understand the TAM problem really well. The Enterprise insights problem department insights problem really well. So they’re taking time to interact with customers before even writing any code. They’re travelling to US spending time with customers organising dinners on represent for their customers. I think this insight to first thing founders come quite late. And we say obviously, right? Large companies will be built by first time founder, there’s no doubt right, no doubt, no doubt. But the incubation period of the first three, four years period journey would be we have seen a tough risk. We have historically seen over 50 portfolio companies 15 Or above and 1 million ARR. Two thirds of them are by first name founders 1/3 of them are second time founders. And those companies above 1 million ARR with first name founders started in 2016-17 timeframe. They did the last pivot in 2020. That’s not and that is helping them to take them to few million dollars.

Bhaskar Ghosh 37:49

Yeah, by the way, I there are two things I will never discount. One is Indian hustle. And in genuinity, do not discount that. So do not discount that. Second is I think the ability of younger founders to have high EQ and high high learning ability is I mean, when you know I mean think about it, man, look at Google, look at Airbnb, name it. Yeah. Think of Facebook. I mean, you’re talking about failures, major generational companies, which came from very young founders, and the ability of young people to you know, pick up signals and adjust and move faster than anybody else from a personal and 8VC point of view, you know, that not going to discount any of that.

 

Siddhartha Ahluwalia 38:34

So, the first thing founders are hungry and second time founders are wise, you need to have a combination

 

Bhaskar Ghosh 38:40

And both need to move very quickly.

Siddhartha Ahluwalia 38:41

So, Bhaskar you have spent almost 30 years in the US now. I have a fight with myself, right? What if Bhaskar would have stayed in India, right? But it’s so analogy I dropped from a movie.

 

Bhaskar Ghosh 38:57

Average IQ would go down.

 

Siddhartha Ahluwalia 39:02

This is from the movie Swadesh in which Shahrukh Khan, who was a NASA scientist came back and then worked in ISRO that and he was moved by with that one dialogue that (Movie Dialogue). So like lamp, my lamp is lightening the neighbour’s house.

 

Bhaskar Ghosh 39:22

So your question is what would have happened?

 

Siddhartha Ahluwalia 39:26

What would happen? And this is a question not just for basket this is a question for all the brilliant talented IITian’s that are working in the in the in the US? How could we retain them? What’s what could stop the reverse Brain drain?

 

Bhaskar Ghosh 39:41

So I think it’s a marketplace question. I think if you look at the speed and the phases that India as an economic entity, cultural entity and a nation has gone through, right, India has made amazing startling progress since 1947, right? If you look at The first 1/3 or half of India, when the whole, India had to build itself an infrastructure, its own infrastructure, whether its power, whether it’s making sure that you don’t have famines. Think about it, right. India hasn’t had a famine in like, that’s mind boggling thinking of the British created famines in India three times. If you guys have read about the Bengal famine, famine, Madras famine, and it’s done by British and Indians together, but now that said, complex religious question, but India was not self sufficient for food perspective. So from power food, education institutions, all of the stuff we take granted now didn’t exist. So the first 20-30-40 years of state controlled, centralised planning was probably necessary. Yeah. That Pakistan, Sri Lanka probably didn’t do in the same way. Right. So I think India has gone through these phases. And in our generation, so I would say I’m one generation before you, if not more, I think when we graduated from computer science, there’s very little opportunity. You know, we had an on campus interview, HCL. And I didn’t even know

 

Siddhartha Ahluwalia 41:14

Jadavpur your talking about?

 

Bhaskar Ghosh 41:16

Yeah. Yeah. I did one interview, I did two interviews in India. I did an IIM Joka interview. And I did HCL interview.

 

Siddhartha Ahluwalia 41:24

What is IIM Joka?

 

Bhaskar Ghosh 41:29

IIM Calcutta, Joka is the name of the little town outside of Calcutta that management is right. Okay. It’s one of the top Yeah, at my time. And IIM Ahmedabad and IIM Calcutta were the 2 top.

 

Siddhartha Ahluwalia 41:39

IIM Bangalore and Ahmedabad.

 

Bhaskar Ghosh 41:40

So you know, I had a job offer for 2,240 rupees per month, I still have the offer letter.

 

Siddhartha Ahluwalia 41:47

But you had the MBA offer or job offer from IIM Calcutta?

 

Bhaskar Ghosh 41:49

No. I had a job offer from HCL, and the job of there were very few jobs. So the economic opportunities did not exist. So that’s one the other part is I was always interested in computer science at a micro level. And going and doing a PhD in you know, a good place in USA was always like studying algorithms was my passion. Right? So it’s a very micro thinking there was no major thinking during that time, it wasn’t that easy to find a professor getting into IIT Madras or Kanpur the only two places even Bombay, IIT Bombay, CS is not like now it’s like, word of world’s top department. So in our generation, the opportunity was not there. It’s just as simple as that, for somebody like us, a group of us who wanted to study. So it’s a micro decision, right? It was not like you’re running away from India, you’re running towards something. It so happens that a confluence of hard work history and all the infrastructure that post independence India built means taking away is the reason why the industry including the IT industry, that we talked about previously in this podcast, developed and then the network effect that you and I just discussed happened of how that journey took 20 years right? Now, I have a lot of amazing friends who did their PhDs and came back as faculty, okay, a lot of friends and they are very well known professors and IIT Kanpur, IIT Delhi, IIT Bombay, IISC Bangalore, you know, they have started institutions, like, you know, like, literally, so I would say I didn’t want to come back and become a professor, you know, academia was not interesting. So that’s why I wanted to go to industry. So I think it’s a generational question of opportunities that were available to us. That’s, that’s the easy part of the answer. The hard part of the answer is, our generation was one or two generations after independence, maybe two and a half or three generations. I don’t know if this was this idealistic generation, which was there to build the nation. Our parent generation was, so I wouldn’t. We were kind of in the middle last generation you guys are a generation where India as the assertive India, India has infrastructure, on all levels that if you choose to build stuff here, you have the opportunity to Yeah, you’re not having to build an opportunity to build. So I would say in that way. It now if you look at God’s hand in all this, it’s so happened that our generation which went to Silicon Valley has turned out to be phenomenally important. And suddenly look at the number of CEOs, top 10 software companies of USA. Guess what, yeah. All actually born and studied in India.

 

Siddhartha Ahluwalia 44:47

And one of them are ABCD American.

 

Bhaskar Ghosh 44:54

Yes, I would say I don’t have a good answer for you then except I make a microscopic decision. But I’ll be honest with you, the reason I will and I have put an effort in the India-US corridor is very much that, you know, given what we were able to learn in Silicon Valley and be successful and establish ourselves, I mean, a lot of us do, we really need to work, we probably don’t, if we need a simple, right, we don’t write, we will, we were lucky to go to IPOs and stuff. But part of it is, is to leverage the excitement and the opportunity in the in the US corridor. But I’ll be honest with you, on top of that, while I’m a I’m a US citizen, I want to contribute to things in India, right, I want to contribute to tech entrepreneurship. I also want to contribute to rural infrastructure and NGOs, you know, both are passions. So I would say, I don’t have a good answer for you, but about backward facing question that you asked. But I have a pretty damn good answer for you in a forward facing way that a lot of the reason I’m sitting here and doing this is not just because I’m a Silicon Valley VC, is because I want to really, really, really, you know, enjoy working with you guys and entrepreneurs here and, you know, make some contribution to the future of India.

 

Siddhartha Ahluwalia 46:11

And would there be a future date in India that you would think of packing your bags there and coming back?

 

Bhaskar Ghosh 46:16

That’s a harder question. It’s possible. I mean, my wife is American. So it’s not fair. My son is American. While they both are ethnically Indian. They are born and brought up there. It is up to them to decide if they’re going to spend time here. So from a split from family perspective, it’s not an easy logistical thing. It all depends. It depends. If we start some things, which requires me to be here in person more. Why not? I think, you know, it would be just an amazing opportunity to be spending more time in the cities you discussed when I was in Bombay, after so many years, just two weeks ago. The energy of the city is amazing. Just being there for two days and meeting people. Just the positivity. And you know, Bangalore, I’ve already told you, right, I just felt feel so excited being here, even in the event we did last night, right? We did one with Telarus. I still I don’t know it, I think I had to stay till like 11 to answer questions. But if people are doing all kinds of startups, or just trying to solve hard problems, and you know, I was fortunate, but I’m seeing the energy that comes back from the young entrepreneurs, is very attractive to me. So if things if luck and destiny have it, yes, why not? So the I’m not writing that off.

Siddhartha Ahluwalia 47:35

Earlier in a conversation, you mentioned that SaaS is exploding in India. Can you share some numbers, some stats or your your perspective on that? Even emotional perspective? Why why do you feel that?

 

Bhaskar Ghosh 47:52

So is it exploding, I would say from a pure numbers that you will have access to I don’t, the sheer number of deals that I’ve taken calls around around first time and second time founders in just departmental SaaS, it is huge. I mean, it is almost equal to the number of departmental SaaS deal meetings have taken from founders in the Bay Area. Okay. Equal. Yeah. And I have said no to a lot of meetings even then. So sheer number. Now, the question is, why is that happening is a more interesting question. I think just the mean, the optimism and the confidence in thinking that I can build something and that I know certain departmental problem that is inflecting. And people have, if you look at the FreshWorks, what do you see the FreshWorks mafia? Yeah. And you know, them extremely well, invested in some of them. I mean, it’s a generational company built from Chennai. It’s like Zoho, and you know, hats off when I mean, this is what is cohort have done, not just outcome, but the culture they have built inside those two companies is phenomenal, right? It’s almost like old time Yahoo, kind of culture, highly entrepreneurial. Look at the number of people coming out of the starting companies. That means they have they have developed confidence to a stand on their own. Second, they have confidence, they’ve learned some subdomain really well, otherwise people don’t do that. So I think we’re almost in the second to third-gen wave of people coming out where it’s not just also the other thing we really love is it’s not just from the top schools, entrepreneurs, you know, I mean, if you look at FreshWorks and Zoho it’s almost like they didn’t hire from the top school. They neglected top schools, because and this from these real hustling, you know, cultures, and Girish talked about in a very deep way when he came to Joe’s house, we hosted him in Woodside of with Girish and his, you know, the Joe and I hosted Girish back in the day, when was it like six months ago, a year ago, I forgot. And he talked about that. He talked about how he himself didn’t go to an IIT and he hired from among these novelty. And it’s a very powerful narrative, right? very counter intuitive. And I would say there is supply side economics playing out in the courage and the skill set of founders. And it looks like the network effect of knowledge has happened in SaaS hasn’t yet happened in infra. That’s also important to point out that you’re not seeing even a small fraction of the number happened in AI, Infra Data, Infra Cloud. Not yet. It’ll happen. Do not count out. I said, Do not count out India. But I think DevTools, it’s happening a little bit more, because there are what six to 7 million programmers in India. So even from like tier one, tier two, tier three cities open source is happening. But I think coming back to your question, there are certain route drivers which have come true. And you know, that’s kind of that’s partly what I think is the reason. And

Siddhartha Ahluwalia 50:55

You see the next generation of Indian entrepreneurs, you have observed this generation, right, from Girish to let’s say Sri from Rocketlane, the next generation of Indian entrepreneurs having certain edge or better in any way. To a certain scale, they say no, not by-

 

Bhaskar Ghosh 51:13

I have been very impressed. I don’t know the generational divide. But I have talked to a lot of entrepreneurs who are not even investors in because we have built a good brand here. With a good set of relationships here. A lot of founders have come and talk to us or talk to me, I have found certain, like deepening insights about the practicality of wedge use cases in go to market. And that doesn’t happen from reading a book. I think that is happening from a network effect of knowledge and word of mouth. Yeah. What was your question again?

 

Siddhartha Ahluwalia 51:46

So my question was the next generation of entrepreneurs,

 

Bhaskar Ghosh 51:49

How are they?

 

Siddhartha Ahluwalia 51:49

Are they better? Are they different?

 

Bhaskar Ghosh 51:51

I think, I don’t know if they’re better or different. They are surely the hustle. And they are coming from number one coming from a wide variety of schools, we’re not just the top IITs, that’s great hustle in terms of, the art of the possible is what I’d say, like, man, the number of founders, I’ve talked to like, something around like product, analytics, something around, you know, you know, video infrastructure, something around. They know use cases. And they have already seen somebody trying to sell into that use case before. So I would say this, as I said, Wedge use case go to market, the tribal knowledge has grown in leaps and bounds. And I think I see that as a huge differentiator. In the founders coming in. Now. They are not starting from scratch. With maybe they were junior engineers, and junior managers and programmers or product managers in successful late stage startups, not just IPO companies. And they are bringing a lot of use case confidence and the confidence that if I build this, and this, I’ll be able to sell it. So that’s number two. Number three, which I think is just beginning to happen is that the same founders have decided that as they build the initial versions of the product, and maybe even sell into the late stage, Indian startup mafia bit here to get a little bit of product market fit going, they have to move to the US, right? That is almost a given in the conversation. That was not true five years ago. Surely not true. So I have seen these three things change.

Siddhartha Ahluwalia 53:34

And since we talked about it, what would it take to produce 100 FreshWorks like outcome from India. You’re talking about b2b SaaS, b2b infra and all the domains that

 

Bhaskar Ghosh 53:48

I think we, we, we we talked about the wedge use cases, we talked about data mode, we talked about owning workflows. I think all of them have to be true. Two more things have to be true. I think supply side economics of founders we’ve talked about, I think, ability to span leadership across US and India. Look, I we and 8VC is not doing India market right now. So I don’t want to comment on that. It’s about building India sell in your Europe market.

 

Siddhartha Ahluwalia 54:21

Exactly. That’s what we are saying fresh work like models.

 

Bhaskar Ghosh 54:23

Fair enough. Fair enough. I think building relationships networks and flywheels in go to market in the US. Knowing which part of your insider direct sales is going to sit here. You know, what is your top of the funnel? How much would it be in India when what has to sit there. For high SCVs, Techniques change. Those flywheels have to happen. I think that is we are in the first quarter of four to use an American term, right first innings of four innings I would say, that has to grow. I think we are a little bit away from that formalised flywheel knowledge. So that’s number one. Number two is Tam, and market readiness has to be there. It’s right now the US market around SaaS multiples is going through a much needed fresh look at it. People are asking questions about unit, about unit economics about margins, maybe we have now on the US side are given much more, much harder than asking those questions. So things will soften a little bit, we’re going to be a little bit more grey area. But I think ultimately, businesses have to show a path towards profitability. That’s a fair requirement. Probably, I would say. All of this will only be enabled by market poll. So certain classes of software have to become extremely important in departmental in departmental SaaS, those are the two secular things that are needed. How do you predict that? I don’t know the answer. One is based on hard work, which is the flywheel of sales go to market? How does certain classes of software in certain departments whether it’s departmental SaaS or automation, or whatever? I think that’s a harder question to anticipate, but I think those two things have to also happen for 100 outcomes like FreshWorks to happen.

Siddhartha Ahluwalia 56:20

The another important question that I have for you is right, you are setting and, and also building as a founder right at the heart of AI revolution. And our audiences has a pretty generic knowledge of AI can can you share what is happening in AI today, and what role India is playing as a builder, not as a consumer?

 

Bhaskar Ghosh 56:45

Yeah, I would say in the AI has been around for a while. So I would say machine learning. In the context of AI, the machine learning part of AI has been used and used and democratised from the Silicon Valley companies like Google and Yahoo primarily. And then Facebook, LinkedIn, others that you know about in the context of primarily initially b2b and b2c, because you you needed this real time staff, you need recommendations and all the use case.

 

Siddhartha Ahluwalia 57:16

That has been there for the last 20 years?

 

Bhaskar Ghosh 57:17

It has been perfected, I think one important secular thing has happened in the regulated industries like finance, like banking, like financial services, little bit of healthcare, is increasing usage of AI in use cases inside so that the enterprises have set up the business processes the development processes and talent to focus on usage of primarily machine learning, maybe a little bit of deep learning, in the context of top line and profit. That is very much here to stay. So is that are we We’re probably in the second innings of the revolution of four, I think as you guys know, in the last six to 12 months, this whole family of AI models called large language models, which is based on hyperscalers essentially crawling the whole universe. And you know, you know, building kind of time series predictive kind of models and enabling English language as a query essentially as a domain language to query things, the server certain use cases, it is just showing mind boggling results. Obviously, you know, all these use cases like, you know, content in marketing, like code through copilots, like intelligent decision trees and interactions, during you know, customer interactions, and you know, many more, maybe someday even Business Business Analytics, you know, how do you query you know, how to query a data warehouse, a lot of these enterprise use cases are going to are, are becoming very important, anything around workflow automation, but there is unstructured data flow into it, right? Think of it as RPA, version 3.0. All of these use cases we anticipate will be profoundly impacted by these this this whole revolution and foundational, Foundation models and generative AI. Now, the question, I’ll come to India question, I don’t know that answer very well. So it is looking increasingly likely that with the usage of LLM sent, family of models, a lot of these business processes, a lot of these products, a lot of these pieces of work that are happening today at enterprise, are gonna be impacted. Now you can start thinking about, you know, what does it mean for VCs? What does it mean for the life hyperscalers like open AI and Google and Amazon and you know, who are building these huge models? How will current industry SaaS industry use it? I think it remains to be seen where the VC investable piece is going to be. It’s not clear to us. We are working on it. We’re thinking about and maybe even start trying to start companies in these areas. Is it going to be Prime is that opportunity in automation, right in many verticals, I think that remains to be seen in terms of India, I would say, India in some parts of Indian IT services and consulting sector, which has reinvented itself over the years. We mentioned it early in this discussion, it would be exciting to see how they use it. I think you’ll see a revolution there and being said, there are enough technically good people sitting there. And they’re very creative and hustling people. I am excited to see that part that instead of us thinking they will be disrupted, I suspect Indian services and consulting sector will start using generative AI, and will actually come up with new stuff. That’s one Yeah. Well, that may or may not be VC investable. Right. So I’ll keep that aside. But I’m very excited by that. In terms of AI enabled products, in terms of infrastructure for generative AI and machine learning. We haven’t I, you know, I think that requires a certain wave of talent and networking for this to happen. And I’m hoping funds like Neon back entrepreneurs, which actually cause that, I think some of that tier of software requires probably much stronger interaction between academia and industry. If you look at a lot of the contributions of AI, while it is, you know, earlier contributions is to come from IBM and Bell Labs in a lot of conclusions that come from Facebook and Google, as you see. But I think a lot of the roots of AI came from academia, just like roots of Internet came from there. I think some magic has to happen in the Indian ecosystem, and the confluence of academia, government labs, private and public sector, and you know, companies for some of that innovation to come. I don’t know enough to bet on it or tell you when it’s going to happen. But coming back to the main point I made, I think in the consulting and IT services sector, you’re going to see some really interesting stuff coming from India. That is my bet for today’s podcast.

Siddhartha Ahluwalia 1:02:05

Thanks. And coming on to you know, conclusion of a podcast, right? Indian entrepreneurs have been moving to the US right, either to start companies or to build their go to market arms. Right? Yeah. What are the few things that you think we can learn faster from entrepreneurs in the West? To succeed there?

 

Bhaskar Ghosh 1:02:28

Let me make one secular point, I think given the current geopolitical situation, I think the USA has rightly adopted a very strong bid with India stance, I really, really want to see that, you know, grow 100x, if not 1000x. Next, and I will do anything I can to increase that. So free flow of talent in both directions are really important , Visa stuff is really important. And I hope both sides can make that happen. So that for a VC and a builder, like me, really want to see that happen, that people can move, not just goods and software, people can move back and forth. Because in

 

Siddhartha Ahluwalia 1:03:03

Just wanted to make a statement, I got my visa after two years, I applied in 2021 and got in 2023.

 

Bhaskar Ghosh 1:03:11

I am being put on the spot, and I have no answer for you. And I hope, I hope I hope that the US administration that it gets accelerated, because I don’t see any reasons for Indian entrepreneurs to just go to India to go to US and never come back. I think opportunity is growing so fast. There should be very, very fluid movement of talent between the two countries. Number one, number two, I think some interesting thing has come about selling in India versus selling in US, I think, in a way, sales in the US are easy. At least. I think US buyers are very deterministic.

 

Siddhartha Ahluwalia 1:03:51

What is what does it mean?

 

Siddhartha Ahluwalia 1:03:52

We have, what we have Neon is like, I was there in us for two months. So one month in barrier one month, almost like in New York. And what I was trying to build for Neon is for a founder to have an LP network, who is ready to give them time and guide them on enterprise sales?

 

Bhaskar Ghosh 1:03:52

Meaning if you engage in enterprise software sale, and somebody tells you and you know, I’m now co-founder, funder of a company called and Xena security company, and you know, go to market is hard. But the beauty of doing this company is in I’m in the room when the pilots are getting defined. The acquiring side is saying if you do this is this yes, I’m going to pay 50k, 70k. And that is largely 99.9% True. So they don’t bluff. You’re saying you’re not only bluff, they’re very matter of fact, they are not. This is not a nepotism based sale just based on relationships. Of course, in high esteem, relationships always matter. But here, the part that the culture is, hey, this is what I need. It’s almost like a consumer culture. People are not afraid of spending money if they know what they’re getting back for it. So in a way, your sales are more cut and dried. From what I’ve heard. I’ve never sold software in India. I think selling software in India still not easy. One of my companies As you go by it, I don’t know if it’s public, we just you know, we’ve done some major deals with HDFC. Okay, yay. Right. So I learned a little bit about how the process went and how it was different in this process. But I would say, US sales once you have the right network, the right collateral, the right integrations for your implementation. It look, your product has to be good. Yeah. I mean, let’s assume you’re at the table because you have a decent product. But I think when you have that checklist, it’s pretty straightforward. I think doing business in US is straightforward. That is the reason US keeps on innovating. Yeah, it’s very matter of fact, if you do this a, b, and c, unless, you know, stock market goes down, and all the requisitions are blocked, right. So I would say that’s probably important, I think culturally just be brave, be open, be very transactional, saying, What are the things you need? And here, I’m going to provide it to you. So I see Indian founders growing there very quickly. This, I’m saying, and I think as the first part becomes more true, but this back and forth thing that even founders are going there and spending three weeks, every two months in the Bay Area in New York, this will accelerate extremely quickly. And I think Neon Yeah, you and I talked about this after your dinner. Yeah, one of the superpowers you are trying to build bring to the table is you have this unnamed but important network there where your founders from here can easily land there. Right? Not, you can talk to people who they can learn from.

 

Bhaskar Ghosh 1:06:49

Absolutely. And part is about the methodology of sales part is about, hey, I will buy this software, something other than that, it’s not going to be that hard. I think it’s like, I think so that’s one two sales. There’s a third part, which is probably more subjective, but which is about building teams. So independent of being in India, every, every, every if the founders are truly from Bangalore, or from here. Even the first 10, 5-10 hires their creating a virtual or explicitly articulated culture of the company. As you grow, inevitably, people keep r&d here, maybe a product manager is hired there. But you start growing sales there, you hire a VP of sales at some point in time. I think it’s very important as the founders go back and forth, to like, learn that part. Like which part is kind of American, you know, how do you have a multicultural company across the borders, will still believes in the same value of customer force, whatever the values are, which is company specific. And for for a bunch of non Indian senior execs to report to an Indian, I’m sure FreshBooks has gone to the same thing. Right. I would say though, these are the kinds of generational things that through proof of lumbers is going to happen. Yeah, I would say those are a few insight. Those are the few hints I drop that need to like, excellent change. So we talked about at least three things. We saw in a free flow of people. We talked about the methodology of US sales, Mid Market and Top Market and other is building cross border teams, right. And the kinds of teams we built from Yahoo, and LinkedIn was US to India. This is India to us. And you know, those books need to be written. Yeah, I would like to see more founders who are getting series B’s and C’s done through US- VC’s spending time there. articulating that, right with you and with other, like in the network history, here is how we are managing esteems. That’s going to be a fascinating journey.

 

Siddhartha Ahluwalia 1:08:59

I can add one point to that, which which couldn’t have been possible before. Right. I think by the timing for the Indian enterprise SaaS is right from India to US. I will take one of our portfolio companies examples SpotDraft they cross their about to touch 10 Mill ARR in in a few months. What they did is now they’re hiring Indians who worked 20 years in the US, let’s say as head of sales, for example, at Coinbase or, or at Meta, that’s very clever. Right? So because these guys know how to do large sales, right? In the in the in the US context in the US market, and they are Indians who like shifted in the US 20 years back, and now they’re happy jumping into Indian originated companies because they have seen successes.

 

Bhaskar Ghosh 1:09:52

Yeah, that’s probably an intermediate stage to what I said, Look, ultimately success I would say that’s the second quarter of four of success for Indian companies, where you’re hiring Indians who are moved there and work there and successful.

Bhaskar Ghosh 1:10:09

I still think, for the real success will be for India to US companies is you’re actually being able to hire and maintain America across many nationalities and ethnicities. I would say there are examples right. Tata has done that very well. Right? Just one example I’m sure other companies have. But that company that example comes to mind they’ve acquired serious companies in the auto space, right? Steel, I think steel companies have done that from here. And maybe there’s stuff to learn for the software industry from the Tata’s of the world also. But to me, you know, I’ll be very proud when that day comes that India define, you know, India.

 

Siddhartha Ahluwalia 1:10:50

The best American talent for example, wants to work for Indian originated companies.

 

Bhaskar Ghosh 1:10:54

Yeah, that will be like amazing. Yeah, that would be truly make all of us very excited.

 

Siddhartha Ahluwalia 1:10:59

Thank you so much. I really enjoyed our conversation.

 

Bhaskar Ghosh 1:11:02

I did not prepare and you guys made me comfortable and you have an amazing group and staff. And it’s so much positive energy in the room. It was a pleasure. Thank you so much. Hope we do more stuff together.

 

Siddhartha Ahluwalia 1:11:13

Yes, Yes absolutely.

 

Bhaskar Ghosh 1:11:15

You me and 8VC and Neon, thanks for having me.

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