One of my friends was asking me about why I am so active in the startup space. He knows I'm an enthusiastic angel investor , and he was wondering why I devote so much time, money and energy to this.
Lots of people believe that my primary motivation must be financial, and that angel investors expect to get rich by investing in startups. Of course , that is the desired outcome, but the reality is that most of us will lose money when funding startups. This is because most startups fail , and it's very hard for anyone to identify which ones will win and which ones won't.
It's not just that we are unable to pick the winners - it's also that the environment changes so dramatically that it's impossible to predict who will remain standing because of all the tectonic shifts which occur so rapidly in such a dynamic ecosystem.
While I'll be happy if I make money on my angel investments, this is not my first priority. Now it's not that I want to throw my money away - it's just that I have realistic expectations from the financial ROI I am likely to get from this particular asset class.
The reason I am an active angel investor is because I have a lot of respect and regard for entrepreneurs, and I want to help them to win. I think they're very brave by being willing to tackle challenges which are likely to scare away most other people, and they are the ones who create true value in a capitalistic economy.
While people like politicians , share brokers , traders and bureaucrats have an important role to play in society, they are usually middlemen . If it weren't for entrepreneurs who are willing to stick their necks out because they have the courage of their conviction; the guts to start even though they know the odds are stacked against them; and the willingness to put up with the hardships and uncertainty which characterize an entrepreneur's life, there really would be nothing new in this world. They are the creators - the ones who start the fires, and I would like to be able to do my own little bit to support them.
Now I am not doing it as philanthropy or charity. My primary metric is my LOI - my learning on investment. The world is a fascinating and interesting place, and talking to founders give you all kinds of insights which otherwise you wouldn't be privy to. They can imagine a better future, and I love their optimism and can-do attitude.
Over time, you get attached to the founder and his dreams, and I have started thinking of the startups I have invested in as being my babies. The founders have given them birth, and I am one of the adoptive parents !
For example, I admire Ajit Narayanan because he is able to be a missionary and a mercenary, and do an outstanding job combining both these skills at the same time; I look upto Sandeep Senan because he is able to inspire children with his passion and creativity, and spark their innovative streak by allowing them to tinker with their hands; Ali is remarkable for being able to pivot with great agility , and he has been able to steer his company through rough times, even though his competitors have crashed after burning through a lot more money; and Abhijeet and Munendra have been extremely frugal and built a company which executes flawlessly on a remarkably consistent basis.
As an IVF specialist, I have a lot of depth of expertise in my professional life. Angel investing allows me to learn a lot more about the world than I would otherwise, and this experience can be expensive when the startup folds, but the lessons are priceless !
I am a consultant IVF specialist, who runs one of India’s leading IVF clinics at www.drmalpani.com, along with my wife, Dr Anjali Malpani. We have founded HELP, the Health Education Library for People (www.healthlibrary.com), which is India’s first Patient Education Resource Center. I have authored many books, including: How to Get the Best Medical Care; Successful Medical Practise; Using Information Therapy to Put Patients First; and Patient Safety - Protect yourself from Medical Errors which are available free at www.thebestmedicalcare.com . My passion is patient empowerment; and I believe that using Information Technology to deliver Information Therapy to patients can heal a sick healthcare system. I am an active angel investor ( www.malpaniventures.com)