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Interview With Yogesh Gaikwad, Managing Director, YuviDigital Capital Partners

Yogesh Gaikwad, Partner, YuviDigital Worldwide
"Many board members and VCs do not add value to a startup or founders. Many are just burning money or want 10x returns without the right efforts, dedication and patience. I prefer GPs, investors to be more empathetic and understanding with entrepreneurs"

Bio (First-Person)

(Find Yogesh on LinkedIn)

I am a self made serial tech entrepreneur who is mentored by Harvard, Stanford alumni and ex security officials. I was founder of India’s first growth hacking start-up. Ex founder of two Blockchain consortiums in Switzerland and UK. In 2017 we raised $33 million in 60 hours with an amazing team of 9 nationalities for Pillar Project where I was one of the main Founder and 20|30 which created history by listing first token on London Stock Exchange.

I am currently board member on interesting Deep Tech, Blockchain & AI projects worldwide. I am building my own Venture Capital Fund & also interested in helping companies with fundraising, advising, tech, strategy, government relations, information security and building a strong sustainable business/ revenue model keeping in mind the needs of future digital economy.

In my career I have engaged with top decision makers in government, venture capital, regulation, startups and top MNCs. I am now focused on helping and building Blockchain, AI, Cyber, Defence companies with unique ideas. I am also interested in foreign policy and global strategic affairs.

Interview

Portfolio ventures that are going great need almost no support, and the ones that are in the bottom aren’t worth helping. Apart from the two extremes, what do you do about the ones somewhere in the middle? How do you decide how much effort to put into them?

Well I usually invest in people with lot of dedication, good idea, great team and solid use case with a traction like active users with revenue. I try to balance and create a very good rapport between founders and me. I agree the ones which are growing fast need no help, but I make sure they are guided well and do not lose their way. One in the middle we make sure we work with them very closely through challenges and help them succeed.

How do you balance your time between (1) sourcing quality prospect ventures (2) doing due diligence for prospective investments and (3) helping current entrepreneurs? Which of these are you comfortable outsourcing to principals/analysts and which do you absolutely have to do yourself?

Well my analysts help me find good projects with traction and then my task is to filter best projects with amazing founders and ideas. My time is mostly consumed working with existing entrepreneurs in my current portfolio. Since I am focused on Deep Tech and AI, it has been a very interesting journey to work on something which will change the world and define this decade.

Many GPs are good investors but don’t master one of the core skills – adding value as a board member. What do you think are some tricks to a productive relationship with founders? What should the culture be for the board and CEO for a quality relationship?

Many board members and VCs do not add value to a startup or founders. Many are just burning money or want 10x returns without the right efforts, dedication and patience. I prefer GPs, Investors to be more empathetic and understanding with entrepreneurs. I create a win-win relationship between Founders and Investors and try to balance as much as we can.

How do you solve important conflicts with CEOs, such as lack of alignment on exits, strategy, or just the CEO being in denial about things like performance? Does the resolution begin with a private conversation or with involving other board members in a decision?

Usually I have  seen lot of CEOs young and old losing way when their startup is well funded. It is necessary to keep them grounded and help them pivot way around through challenges. We keep checks on necessary goals and targets and aim hard to achieve together. Many CEOs do get consumed by arrogance and ego in that case only they can help themselves we can only advise but 90% fail.

When raising money from LPs, what is the thing you emphasize the most when “selling” the fund? Past returns? Team expertise (domain and/or entrepreneurial expertise)? Unique angle?

I focus on our core strategy based upon our past track record, current portfolio and our futuristic focused approach betting and doing things which will change our future and not burning money on market place like ideas.

Lessons from Yogesh

  • It’s important to work closely with founders. Even the most promising startups can use some guidance, and the best results for the best exits will never be achieved unless you have close rapport with the founder;
  • It’s important to add value to the founder as a board member. Many investors simply invest the money and don’t have the patience and dedication to empathize with the entrepreneur and truly add value. This causes suboptimal results;
  • A CEO can easily lose their way when the startup is well-funded. It’s important to keep achieving goals and having strict criteria for success, always grounded;

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