Archive for June 2011
It’s impossible to escape the slums in India. The Bessemer office in Nariman Point overlooks slums. The apartment I’m staying at in Worli overlooks slums. Even Mukesh Ambani’s mansion overlooks slums.
But that’s a microcosm of the real India. The significant majority – in fact, the overwhelming majority – are not much better off.
Here’s a graph of the evolving demographics of India compiled from a number of data sets. “Poor” means a family earning less than 1 lakh rupees a year (a little over $2000). “Middle Class” means a family earning between 1 lakh rupees and 10 lakh rupees a year (between $2000 and $20000). Upper class is above 10 lakh rupees a year, or $20000+.
While the positive trend is the number of people going from “poor” to “middle class” by 2025, the sheer magnitude of people in the “poor” class is staggering, saddening, and maddening. That’s the real India. And as investors, I hope we remember to not only strive to do well for ourselves, but to do good with our capital for the real India and the real world.
I spent the past week in New York City at Bessemer’s All Hands meetings. On Wednesday and Thursday, it was just the India team, of which I am also a part.
Tomorrow, I fly to Mumbai. I’ll be in India for two months leading the development of our India internet and mobile investment practice. India has 81 million internet users, a number that is predicted to triple by 2015, and has the fourth largest internet population in the world. India also has over 800 million mobile phone subscribers, meaning that more people have access to a mobile phone than a flushing toilet.
BVP will continue to invest in sectors in which we’ve had considerable success in India–infrastructure, cleantech, financial services, etc–but we’re also going to going to ramp up our efforts on the web and mobile front. We’re going to tap into some of the US internet expertise from our investments in Yelp, LinkedIn, Quidsi, Skype, and Cornerstone to give entrepreneurs a wealth of resources to help them grow their companies.
Let me know if you hear of some exciting internet or mobile entrepreneurs in India who are in the process of, or want to build great businesses. We can’t wait to help.
As I submitted my last final exam of my Stanford career, I took a moment to reflect on my time at Stanford.
I came in with a view, a voice, and a dream. I’m leaving with a view, a voice, and a dream. The difference is the magnitude, depth, sophistication, and (hopefully) unbounded potential of that view, voice and dream.
While I learned a fair bit from the classroom, my Stanford experience was made outside the classroom. The stories, the perspectives, and the nuances in people’s lives. The way people analyze, persuade, and persist. The reasons people do things, the reasons people don’t, and the reasons people want to. I’ve come out not with a knowledge of the solutions, but with a knowledge of the problems and challenges that we as a society face—and a better understanding for many of their reasons.
But perhaps the most important thing I learned—or, should I say, experienced—was not what to think. I learned how to think. I learned how to learn.
Thank you, Stanford, for one of the most profound experiences of my life.