Investor Talks: “Mentors and advisors are the most underrated resource for startup founders”, Mr. Aditya Pathak

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Every startup needs an expert who knows the tactics and strategies for thriving in the business world. Although when someone startups a business, every person has some kind of advice to share, the right person will always be an advisor, investor, or mentor. Investors and mentors have learned from personal experience and interacted with enough startups to know your potential and how you can optimally utilize it.

In the second week of Sociobits’ Investor Series, our team got in touch with Mr. Aditya Pathak, the Associate Partner at Product 10x. He leads Program Innovation Initiatives for Babson College and focuses on Indian Partnerships. He has over eight years of experience in Entrepreneurship and Management consulting with expertise in Business Development, Program innovation, Strategic planning, and Corporate/B2B strategy. He also proactively helps companies ideate, launch and scale products globally. Along with this, he is extremely passionate about creating diversity equity and expanding access for women-owned businesses.

Mr. Aditya Pathak shared with us the importance of mentors for a startup and pointers that startups can use while pitching their idea to investors.

  1. What do you think is the future of the startup culture globally?

I see three themes branching out the future of startups in the world right now from our experience in accelerating and investing in startups.

  • Decentralization: In the last decade we have seen major players emerge and form near-monopoly market share in their domain. This leaves opportunity spaces for entrepreneurs to step in and solve niche-community problems and build a business model based on customer experience and user journeys.
  • Value-based selling: As consumers, we have been sold to for a very long time and I believe the consumer of tomorrow is more aware of brand tactics. Founders must be influential in communicating their value proposition. The future of business models is value-based selling; if you build the right product attributes, the marketing will take care of itself.
  • Product-led growth: There are two main elements in a startup; produce and sell. All the other functions are supplementary. If company growth is backed by how much the community adores its products, the startup would have a clear edge over the competition. Product perfection and obsession with consumer experience define the business models of tomorrow.
  1. Is there anything that we can change to develop or give a boost to the startup ecosystem?

Talent: It’s all about people! A key focus to developing the startup ecosystem should be harboring, retaining, catering, and nurturing talent.

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DE&I: Bringing in a diverse set of people, ideas and perspectives are essential for decision making. Diversity, equity, inclusion, and access would help grow this ecosystem for generations to come.

  1. How important is the role of mentors when it comes to guiding budding entrepreneurs?

When I started as an entrepreneur, there wasn’t a concept of mentorship. Mentors and advisors now are the most underrated resource for startup founders. This vital asset is often always at no cost and provides the best, long-term return. I strongly recommend finding mentors and building strong relationships to create a sounding board.

  1. If you would like to give one piece of advice to all the budding entrepreneurs who are looking to raise funds, what would that be?

Apart from the cliche advice that is out there, I want to focus on the quality of funds. It’s important to align your mission, vision, and goals with the investing philosophy of a firm. At times manufacturing startup might benefit from having an investor with manufacturing experience rather than a valuation-focused investor. This allows investors to put skin in the game while also serving as a north star to founders.

  1. What have you learnt in your journey as an investor?
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Focusing on fostering a great team that loves working with each other instead of investing in the trend line. Typically great teams who get along well have greater capabilities to pivot with changing market conditions and trends.

“It’s important to align your mission, vision, and goals with the investing philosophy of a firm.”

Mr. Adtiya Pathak, Associate Partner at Product10x
  1. How did you get into the investing or funding space?

I started in manufacturing tech 9 years ago which allowed me to develop business acumen and investment intuition. I have been helping founders ever since, which led me to become an advisor to the board at Product10x Accelerator, located in the heart of Silicon Valley. Last year, I became a partner in the firm and started looking at India as the next opportunity for investments.

  1. What are the easiest and toughest things about being an investor?

The most impactful days always feel easy. My best days happen when we are able to help our community and minority business owners. LGBTQ and Women businesses are my main focus when it comes to pro-bono work and mentoring leaders for tomorrow.

As an ex-founder, it’s difficult to not empathize with early-stage, resource-constrained, but great entrepreneurs. It’s tough to be a passive member in a fast-moving startup, you always want to jump in and work actively with the team.

  1. What is the common mistake that businesses make while pitching to investors?

Two elements that drive investors to make the decision to fund a company are risk and return. More often than not, founders focus on valuations while completely leaving out how they intend to mitigate risk. Seeing the research, team, and advisory board ensures safety to investors to instill trust in the mission.

  1. How do you spot a good founder?

As a founder, you will always be selling: to investors, to employees, to customers, etc. The ability to project and sell your vision is the key characteristic I look for in budding entrepreneurs.

  1. What are some of the red flags that you have faced in your investing journey?

Incompatible co-founders and dysfunctional team dynamics never continue down a path of success. You must always be aligned.

  1. Would you like to mention your investments?

With a lot under our NDA funnel, I would like to mention our [P10x] three investments from the last two years. Salestable.Ai, Cense.ai, CentSai

Mr. Aditya Pathak has given a guidebook that every startup can use to scale their business. Words from investors like him are valuable and every startup can learn something from the.

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