You have hit on the perfect idea for a start-up, raised your seed round of funding, got it off the ground and watched it vault to the status of a unicorn, perhaps even a decacorn, a term used to describe a start-up with a valuation of at least $10 billion. Not an implausible scenario. After all, as of July 19, 2022, India was home to 105 unicorns with a collective valuation of $338.5 billion, according to the investindia.gov. in the website. The years 2021, 2020 and 2019 gave birth to 44, 11 and seven unicorns respectively, according to the site, which says “it’s raining unicorns” was the theme last year when a thriving digital payments ecosystem, large smartphone user base and digital-first business models combined to stoke a unicorn boom even as the pandemic raged.
Remember, though, that for every success story, the world’s third largest start-up ecosystem is littered with failures. Companies founded by ambitious entrepreneurs that showed early promise impressed angel investors or venture capitalists enough to raise seed or growth capital but got nowhere and disappeared. Maybe their timing was wrong, the market was not ready to accept their ideas or because of sheer bad luck. Shiladitya “Sunny” Ghosh, 46 years old, can tell you more than most about what can go wrong. He has been through the school of hard knocks more than once.
The About column of Ghosh’s LinkedIn profile reads: “I am a start-up guy, founded 3 companies – One right from college, one bootstrapped and another VC-backed. Drove three other product startups into the global market. Three of them were acquired, including one at $1.16Bn. Done $100 million in sales revenue, learning to build $100M+ ARR at a venture-backed pace. Failed miserably twice.”
ARR is short for annual recurring revenue.
The “miserable failures” Ghosh, an alumnus of B. N College of Science and IIM-Bangalore, is referring to are Collatebox, and The Empathy Network.
FactorDaily’s Pankaj Mishra recently caught up with Ghosh for a conversation, which took place at his gated community home in the southeast of Bengaluru.