Following questions were answered by myself and Nandini for Ashish Sinha @ pluggd.in. Reproducing the Q&A here:
a. What kind of startups are you targeting? College grads? Boostrapped?
Morpheus is open to work with all kinds of start-ups. However, the following would be our focus area:
1. Early stage start-up teams who have not received any professional funding so far. (Professional funding comes with good amount of advise, mentorship and contacts)
2. Teams which are still in idea stage and have not started of as yet.
3. We’d prefer start-ups with more than one founder (will help single founders find co-founders) and founders who just refuse to fail
4. A team that can bootstrap or has bootstrapped, as that is an essential ingredient of an entrepreneur and a start-up.
5. An idea/product/solution that is solving a real problem and targets a large market. Team should have an open mind to morph their idea, as market realities are often very different than the assumptions made while designing the product/solution.
b. Avg. Investment size that you are interested in?
Our primary value add to the startup teams is the advise, mentorship, guidance, access to the right network, creating opportunity to meeting relevant people, team strategy, product strategy, launch strategy, fund raising strategy (intros and more), getting the right advisers onboard with the right kind of terms, etc.
The most important thing we do is work with startups on their ideas. We’re entrepreneurs ourselves, and we’ve spent a lot of time figuring out how to make things people want.
The first 12 months are the most critical period in the life of a start-up, they are also know as the “valley of death”. Most people save money for a year, quit their jobs and take a plunge into entrepreneurship and if things don’t go well in the first they will have no choice but to go back to jobs. It is during this period that they require non-monitory investment in terms of guidance in doing it right and doing it well. Morpheus will provide them with the required support to help them validate their idea and roll the venture out.
However, we are evaluating an option of raising a small fund and making very small seed investments into the companies. But even with that, money will remain a very small portion of what we bring to the table. Our goal is to get the team through the first phase. This usually means: get it to the point where the team has built something impressive enough to raise money on a larger scale.
c. As a mentor to several startups, what are the industries you are most bullish about?
Morpheus is bullish about team which can solve real problems and which refuses to fail, come what may. We would like to work with start-ups on all verticals and not just limit ourselves to a technology or a web-based initiative.
d. suggestions/tips to young entrepreneurs?
- Look for problems around you, and think about solutions that are much better than the existing ones
- Remember that the power lies with you, the entrepreneur.
- Think big, dream large.
- Listen to your customer, as he’s the one that matters and make every penny work for your customer. Rest will follow!
- (Our favorite advice): Be fair to every one, people who you work with, people who you meet at conferences, on the blogs and otherwise. Startups need a lot of help (and all kind of help) from people around to build their dream product/service and if you are fair to people, they will come forward and help you.