LAFFAZ Media lately caught up with Aditya Arora, the CEO of FAAD Network, a Gurugram-based startup accelerator firm founded in 2015 by Dr Dinesh Singh and Karan Verma.
We began with asking questions related to Aditya’s early career, to know about FAAD and ended with seeking suggestions that could foster learning for the newbie and budding entrepreneurs.
It is our pleasure in presenting to you our conversation with Aditya. Here’s to it…
LAFFAZ: We would like our audience to know about you in detail. How you started out in your career and reaching to this level to being the CEO of the accelerator firm ‘FAAD’?
Aditya: When I was in school, I was a small part in the process of a sale of a company. I got the outlining of how companies can be built and grown over time. When I entered college, I decided to intern in FAAD under the mentorship of Dr Dinesh Singh and Mr Karan Verma. In my internship period, I did nothing but read Startup reports day in and day out. My purpose was to know about this ecosystem and write my take and cover inspiring stories of other Entrepreneurs.
That’s where the entrepreneurial bug bit me and I decided that I would continue exploring this field rather than sit for a college placement process. My journey with FAAD started then and I haven’t looked back since then.
LAFFAZ: Since the Indian startup ecosystem is ever-growing on a rapid pace and found its spot to the second position after the U.S.; there could be N number of other types of startups and ideas to build your career around, but you continued working with FAAD. What’s the core cognition behind?
Aditya: India is becoming a hot-bed of startups with DPIIT claiming over 20,000 registered startups in the country. But still, the rate of success is very less as compared to the USA and China. The reason being, there are a large majority of companies which are in the early stage but don’t get enough support initially. Be it idea validation, seed funding, right team or better mentorship. These all become the pain points for a Startup.
Initially, FAAD was started as a one-stop solution for all the entrepreneurial needs where we were helping startups with the services of Content, PR, Co-founder matchmaking and a plethora of other services. Later on, we adopted a much-focused approach to fundraising. Two years into the investment business and we already have a healthy and quality portfolio of about 7 companies.
LAFFAZ: What all problems are being solved by FAAD? And how you’ve planned to expand it further and address the challenges of startups and MSMEs in the future?
Aditya: FAAD Network is recognized as a leading Member based investor network handholding early-stage startups. Our team is made up of seasoned investors and experienced entrepreneurs from a variety of backgrounds and disciplines, who collaborate with partners to help foster innovative ideas into successful businesses.
The two major ways with which we solve problems are:
#1. Creating a network of early-stage investors and encouraging many new investors to invest in Startups. In India, there are only 1200 active investors and our ecosystem needs more of them. Through our network, we are not only managing their portfolio but also ensuring a steady and quality deal flow along with curating startups so that this process can be expedited.
#2. Curating promising and the next game-changer startups and also helping them with documentation preparation. We are not just working with startups for one fundraising round, but also helping them to grow the business and take them to blitz scaling and growth stage quickly. Opening these startups to our close network of active investors helps us to achieve that.
LAFFAZ: Please tell us a bit about the challenges you’ve encountered in your journey with FAAD till now, and how did you address them?
Aditya: Personally for me, Time was the constraint as I was managing all this along with my undergraduate college. Also, no one from the team came from an entrepreneurial or investment background, and then understanding all these things from scratch was a massive challenge among several others. We built our network over time and ensured to get surrounded by like-minded people. Being patient and consistent with learnings along with having an open mind, was our formula to success. Meeting as many people as we could also gave us the much needed experiential learning while building long-lasting relationships.
LAFFAZ: Did you go under mentorship to scale FAAD? If Yes, then please tell us a bit about getting mentored and trained.
Aditya: We have always been working with great people from the very beginning of our journey, and everyone has taught us something or the other. However, in the network currently, we have two mentors who I would like to call out:
- Mr Harender Chopra – Ex-Navy Commodore (Retd.) & Principal Director Non-Public funds. Managed about INR 5000 Cr. Funds.
- Mr Bharat Sheth – Angel Investor
LAFFAZ: Would you like to accentuate over some of the most common mistakes committed by newbie entrepreneurs and startups these days?
Aditya: There are a lot of mistakes that Entrepreneurs commit early on:
- The one that’s most common and intoxicating is, Undue Prevalence on External Capital rather than growing a business bootstrap for some duration.
- Not registering the company before starting up operations on Day 1. This actually limits a startup’s scope to get recognised and taken seriously by potential customers.
- Not doing enough validation of the Idea.
- Not having a co-founder of a different skillset.
- Focusing too much on profits rather than customer retention and market share.
LAFFAZ: Please tell us about a few skills one needs to have to be a successful entrepreneur?
Aditya: I have always believed, Entrepreneurs are born and not made. So, some skills such as risk-taking capacity and innovative thinking come naturally. However, skills such as behavioural skills, patience and interpersonal skills are must and can be acquired through lectures or in an experiential format.
Over to you…
So that was our amazing conversation with Aditya. I hope that you have certainly found this conversation interesting too. You can visit FAAD Network homepage to know more.