Fundraising · Angel investor

My team is in India. How should I approach investors?

Nveen Verma CEO & Founder at Creativforce

January 9th, 2015

I have been developing a mobile application with my team in India. I was born in the United States however; I am from an Indian background. I understand the culture, language and I have a really good understanding with my team. They are motivated, excited and love the fact that they can see their hard work is actually paying off. We are about 95% percent complete and will be launching in the next 2-3 weeks. However, I have bootstrapped as much I could and I need to go for a seed round. How should I approach investors with the fact that my team is in India?
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Scott Brittain CTO Snap Kitchen (We're hiring!)

January 9th, 2015

Having had several Indian teams and funded several companies I'd offer the following:

- every situation is a snowflake so critique the strengths/weaknesses of your team in a geo-neutral way and present that the majority of the time

- play up your personal background as a risk reducing element ("I understand the culture, language ...")

- IMO industry-wide people have two main expectations/generalizations of India.  First, labor is cheaper.  Second, project delivery is riskier due to a number of factors that I'd summarize as "Americans and Indians don't see project execution the same".  There's a lot of good research out on this.  I recommend When Cultures Collide.

Kate Hiscox

January 9th, 2015

Agree with Scott - be geo-neutral until the question arises. You'll want to have firm and decisive answers in place for what happens to your team in the long run. Will you bring them to NA etc. 

I would also look for investment in India where you might have more luck with VC's looking for a US investment but understand your team being in India.

Peter K Chen

January 9th, 2015

It's not necessarily a negative connotation to say that your team is based in India. I'm originally from Seattle and a lot of the people and friends I knew because of a certain tech company based in Redmond made it so that their teams were spread apart. Don't forget to clarify if your team in India are part of your cofounding team or just a contracted development firm. Y Combinator has also taken in Indian startups and flown them for interviews and those teams ended up deciding to move their company/team to the bay area for the program. I think traction would be a better focus of your time that will help in approaching investors. 

Nveen Verma CEO & Founder at Creativforce

January 9th, 2015

@ Scott - I just ordered 'When Cultures Collide' and will be taking the time to read it. Thank you for your input and I will take into all the points you mentioned into account.

@ Peter - The main reason I want to go for a seed fund is because one of the team member has the knowledge and expertise to be our co-founder. I would like for him to move to the US but I would need to sponsor him. He would be a great asset.

Rob G

January 9th, 2015

Nveen: always sell your strengths - you have no other choice.  Try to turn perceived weaknesses into strengths.   Have logical answers for your true weaknesses - accept the true weaknesses and don't try to ignore them or pretend they are not important.  If investors perceive them as important then they are important.  You bought the idea of having your dev team in India so what convinced you?  look at things like dedication, cost, stability, cost, cross-cultural market opportunities (can you rationally build a customer base in India?), cost... did i mention cost?  Is there a way to leverage Indian's living in the US as either a customer base or investor base? Obviously there are many successful US tech companies that have tech resources in India so you are in good company. How do they sell that as a strength?  Your plan/pitch might also include a plan for how you will bring on a local dev team to compliment your team in India and/or transition your team to the US. 

Anonymous

January 9th, 2015

Nveen, First, congrats and I wish you well on your venture. I'm not a VC or Investor by any means, but what you're doing can really be displayed in a very positive way. If an investor asks about your team, feel comfortable and confident sharing who and where they are, go a little further by sharing your goals with the team. If they ask the value proposition, your operations are running 24/7 and you're building global team experience. What you're doing is not uncommon and you shouldn't have to force an investor to believe or be comfortable with it. Be well - Frank

Steve Owens

January 10th, 2015

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Aji Abraham

July 22nd, 2015

A remote development team is not real issue for most VCs nowadays. But in your case you are sole founder where entire team is out of country. So the risk increases if you decide not to pursue this venture or you are unable to pursue. I would imagine your chances for funding increases if you have somebody in your team locally. Funding is getting much easier in India in the recent years. You might want to pitch some local Indian VCs also.