I had got onto a call with the founders of Zoomcar, Greg Moran and David Back, around 2012-13. They were highly recommended by a fellow angel friend of mine. This was also when I had just returned from the US, and had seen a similar business, Zipcar, do extremely well.
Why Zoomcar is in Siddharth Ladsariya’s anti-portfolio
So, I had spotted the trend, but I really wasn’t confident of the potential of self-driving car rental in India. Car safety and damage is a huge issue here, and you can just get a driver for a thousand rupees. Why would anyone go through the hassle of renting and then driving a car?
I was impressed with the founders and the valuation was fine for a pre-Series A round. But I simply couldn’t envision scope for growth and scale, and passed up the opportunity.
Today, they are growing quite fast, have a slew of investors, including auto giant Mahindra. That really is a sign of confidence.
What I know now, which I did not know then, is this: global trends get replicated in India, but after a few years. My real regret here is that some investors fail to spot trends itself. I had spotted the trend globally, but was sceptical of its Indian applicability. Today, they are the typical startup with high growth and high burn rates, as the media calls it. But with their first mover advantage, Zoomcar definitely would have been a great investment back then, but I guess the experience has left me wiser.
After 10 years of investments in startups and more than 100 investments, I still feel I am learning every single day. I try to put my learnings to have a much more wholesome and well-rounded investment philosophy.
To be a successful startup investor it is important to identify trends, identify amazing entrepreneurs who have fire in their belly and invest in your conviction.