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Little Eye Labs founders are great deal makers: Rajesh Sawhney

January 09, 2014 13:54 IST

Little Eye Labs founders are great deal makers: Rajesh Sawhney

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Aparna Kalra

Rajesh Sawhney’s Twitter account is flooded with congratulatory messages. His GSF Accelerator funded Little Eye Labs, bought by Facebook on Wednesday.

Sawhney, who owned 15 per cent of the Bangalore-based tech start-up, launched GSF in 2012, having cut his teeth in Times Internet and Reliance Entertainment.

He tells Aparna Kalra what the social media giant’s first buy in the country means for Indian start-ups. Edited excerpts:

Tell us about GSF’s work so far.

GSF has now funded 24 start-ups. We have 30 entrepreneurs in residence. During this period, they work with our accelerator and they work on their own start-up ideas.

It is more like an incubation programme. To each start-up we give Rs 15 lakh (Rs 1.5 million). With some we have a seed round, which means we invest Rs 1-2 crore (Rs 10 – 20 million).

In Little Eye Labs, we had a seed round. So, we own 15 per cent of that company, 10 per cent is with VentureEast, and the rest with promoters.

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Photographs: Courtesy, Little Eye Labs

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Little Eye Labs founders are great deal makers: Rajesh Sawhney

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What does the Facebook acquisition mean for start-ups?

Little Eye Labs is a product company with global appeal. So far, Flipkart, Naukri, Makemytrip have been focused on India.

The acquisition shows if you build a start-up with global appeal, Facebook and Google are willing to look at you.

If Facebook buys something, it puts the spotlight on that country. VCs (venture capitalists) will get interested, start-ups will build. It is good news for the Indian start-up ecosystem. It shows potential.

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Photographs: Reuters

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Little Eye Labs founders are great deal makers: Rajesh Sawhney

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The reason why we don’t have a Silicon Valley, it is said, is because Asians are risk-averse. Do you think so?

I know that of 24 companies, many will fail. You fail but you fail fast. Because relentless experiments bring innovation.

I want to accelerate the pace of experiments because then I have not invested that much money in you. Let me explain.

If an entrepreneur comes to me, and says this idea is not working, I say okay, I will fund you again.

I have that confidence in you. But this should happen in 10 months, not 10 years. In 10 months, move on to the next idea if one is not working out.

Our job is to help a start-up come out with a minimum viable product, get early validation of their product through the first customers and then get some institutional financing.

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Photographs: Reuters

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Little Eye Labs founders are great deal makers: Rajesh Sawhney

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How was your experience with the Little Eye Labs team?

This team is seasoned, yet they came to an accelerator. This shows not just young entrepreneurs but seasoned ones can approach an accelerator.

Kumar (Little Eye Labs co-founder) is a great deal maker, he moves fast. Founders need to be fast.




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