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March 27, 2018

Lessons Norwest drew from its Wrong Call on Ola

Niren Shah of Norwest writes in Mint about the concerns that led it to pass on the opportunities to invest in Indian cab hailing app  Ola and the lessons it drew from the experience.
On the positive side, we really found Bhavish (Aggarwal), the founder, to be a strong disruptor and felt that he could execute and scale the business, innovate and take this very far. We also felt that the space was going to be huge in India, given the under-resourced public transportation.
...on the unit economics, we had significant concerns that this space would bleed for a very long time and found it hard to understand how the space would become significantly margin positive. Lastly, we saw a lot of regulatory friction in India which we felt could be binary (Uber was still very tiny).
...The key learning for me from this anti-portfolio was that once you find (1) really strong teams, (2) demonstrated execution (in the current company or a previous track record), and (3) a large market space, which is here and now; it makes sense to move quickly and invest, rather than focusing on what else could go wrong! 

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