Dhruvi Kanabar

Making India a global leader, through technology, one startup at a time

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Start-ups in India are experiencing a revolutionary phase: regulatory framework, political and budgetary support, increased share of investor savings, supportive domestic ecosystem and global reach and support. Any entrepreneur running a startup in India would know that earlier startups are would be better funded and go through an easier transition in the west than they do in India. Recently, things seem to be turning around, with the implementation of new Government policies, initiatives and a better start-up and investor ecosystem. The continued support showed by the Finance Minister in the recently announced budget will be a great impetus for start-ups in the digital, education, infrastructure, finance and healthcare space especially.

“Technological disruptions can revolutionize even the most conventional of sectors by transforming usage patterns, improving operations, increasing output and reducing costs. – Dhruvi Kanabar”

Dhruvi Kanabar is one of the founding members of NovaDhruva Capital, which is an Investment Bank. She received her MBA at the Wharton Business School, University of Pennsylvania and shortly thereafter she moved back to India.

Equipped with a major in finance, she has worked in investing roles across asset classes. The two verticals that caught her fancy the most were startups and FIG.

Since a robust system is required for any economy to outrun its global peer, it made sense for her to understand FIG better. The growing non-performing asset books in banks, high GDP growth rate, evolving monetary and fiscal conditions made FIG more intriguing. She works with startups since she has seen and experienced the potential they had in changing the way innovation changes the way of life across the world. In the past, she has worked with Private equity funds di and consultanting firms.

Initially, Dhruvi used to notice Indian start-ups trying to imitate everything, from business ideas to their working styles, form the western world. She is now noticing a change in the way that they function. Indian startups are no longer sticking to the norms and are breaking away from them. This change subtly began about 3 years back and is prevailing. They are now working on and forming ideas best suited to the Indian customer.

Dhruvi Kanabar is one of the investors in JustRide and RML Agtech. She is looking forward to seeing India playing in the big leagues or as a global superpower. She does however notice that there are a few setbacks and hiccups preventing this. The two key challenges preventing this from happening are infrastructural shortcomings, and the lack of literacy.

I have experienced how something as simple as technology can improve logistical efficiency, can reduce food produce wastage, by several basis points and change the poverty levels in the economy; how e-wallets can change the lives in underdeveloped nations; how innovation in infrastructure can help develop townships and how small modifications in healthcare delivery can save lives. – Dhruvi Kanabar

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Everything said and done, India doesn’t have a lot of capital and there isn’t a very high risk appetite; so the question becomes whether the country is ready to use technology to its highest potential or slowly ease into it. She believes India will have a changed standard of living by 2020 given the right support and proper ecosystem.

Dhruvi Kanabar assists startups directly through investment and mentorship. She is on the startup board IMC, mentor at YEA and several start-ups. When it comes to investments, she prefers investing in tech enabled conventional sectors. Obviously she cannot invest in every company she comes across, so has certain criteria she works with to vet his decision. She begins by going through the entrepreneur’s enthusiasm, skill and commitment; she further checks out the idea, whether it is completely unique and practical, and lastly the execution experience of the team. She learned in his earlier days that it is best to focus on ideas and better still are ideas that are profitable.

RML Agtech, one of the companies Dhruvi invested in, has unique technology and infrastructure that works on increasing crop yield. It helps farmers plan crop produce, works with the middlemen to plan sales and distribution, and traders hedge. The idea was shown in Geneva and the company has received funding from prominent VCs. The idea is now being used to boost crops in different parts of India.

Entrepreneurs who understand and have experience in their own fields, who are looking to make profits, and who have taken their idea post beta testing, are the best candidates to receive investment. A couple of years back, there were many investors chasing few companies, and as a result, many of them did not receive returns for their investment. Now, ideas coming across, are more genuine-and well thought out, and not merely imitating someone else;, which is creating an environment where investors are safe to start investing in companies.

For avid readers, Dhruvi suggests reading:

  • Alibaba: The House that Jack Ma built
  • Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike
  • Principles’ by Ray Dalio 

To entrepreneurs and investors she says:

  • Create investor value
  • Sustainable growth rather an extreme cash burn or extreme conservatism
  • Look for unique and customized solutions rather than replicating international models
  • Create solutions which address long term needs of the country and help nation building and which impact the rural masses
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