The article Nurturing entrepreneurs with more than just money by N RAMAKRISHNAN on BusinessLine highlights the importance of mentoring for startups in India. The Chenai Angels, is a group of individuals that puts money, a lot of their time and effort in nurturing start-ups. They are a diverse group of individuals each with expertise in fields as varied as manufacturing, healthcare, automobiles, security systems, consultancy, finance, software and hospitality.
According to K Mahalingam, member of The Chennai Angels, the intensity and involvement of a wider group of people in mentoring the companies are specific to The Chennai Angels. “The network is pretty close for us to reach out. They are benefiting from that,” he says and adds that the diversity of the members is fascinating.
A lot of the members contribute generously of their time and expertise even if they are not investing in a venture.
Sameer sums up The Chennai Angels’ outlook when he says: “We are trying to make sure the company and the legacy institution for what we come together for is better than when we arrived. The company has to be better off than when we intervened. If it isn’t, we have not done any good service.”
While mentoring by angel groups is certainly to be applauded, from an entrepreneur’s standpoint it may be preferable to get mentoring from experienced founders who don’t have a financial interest in their company. While in theory investors and founders interests are aligned, in practice this is not always the case as investors manage a portfolio of companies, where founders have one major investment – their startup. So do take advantage of mentoring from an angel group that is investing in you, especially if there is domain specific knowledge that can benefit your company. But you might want to supplement that mentorship with mentoring from an academic mentoring group or other mentors who don’t have a financial interest in your company and whose advice is not influenced by protecting their interests.