I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Vir Kashyap, veteran investor and entrepreneur, on the Startup Istanbul podcast. Vir has a unique background, having been born in India, educated in the US, worked at startups in Silicon Valley, and eventually returned to India in 2007 to tap into the early stage startup ecosystem there.
In our conversation, Vir traces his journey from writing his college thesis on e-commerce in the late 1990s to co-founding recruiting platform Babajob in India in 2007. He reflects on the dramatic evolution of India's startup ecosystem over the last 15 years, highlighting three key inflection points - the launch of Jio increasing internet access, demonetization driving digital payments, and COVID necessitating remote work and transactions.
According to Vir, these developments have allowed Indian startups to "build a global quality product and compete on a global stage from day one." He advises startups looking to expand globally to get a team member or investor with experience in their target overseas market.
Speaking from his experience of straddling both the US and India as an investor, Vir stresses the importance of founder-market fit above all else when evaluating startups to invest in. He looks for mission-driven founders who will stick through the ups and downs required to solve a real problem they are passionate about.
Maintaining work-life balance is also critical for founders to be successful long-term, Vir emphasizes. He advises founders to prioritize sleep and exercise as well as block off dedicated personal time.
For fuller insights from Vir on emerging market opportunities, cross-border investing, trends in the India startup ecosystem, and advice for founders, be sure to check out the podcast episode.