Dr. Ritesh is the Founder and CEO of Guerilla Ventures, an angel fund that was founded in 2013, with a focus on hardware companies. As per Forbes, one of the portfolio companies, Fin Robotics, a wearable gadget manufacturer, is the first hardware product company to raise Series A funding. Dr. Ritesh has invested in over 65 companies that include RHLvision, Wigzo, AddoDoc, Mashinga, and Flipmotion, among others. Dr Ritesh Malik has provided co-working space to start-ups through his venture Innov8 started in 2012.
Read an Exclusive Interview of Dr. Ritesh Malik, with Fitnglam Magazine.
1. What is the impact of COVID 19 on global economy? Resurgence possible in how many months?
Dr. Ritesh : The Coronavirus pandemic has impacted the global economy in unprecedented ways. This pandemic has lead to devastating losses of human and economic capital. At this stage we are halfway through the year and there still does not seem to be a rebate from the devastation. Auto, hospitality, aviation and ancillary manufacturing sectors have suffered tremendously. Entire global economic engines were brought to a standstill because of multiple lockdowns.
However, as entrepreneurs, we like to always look for light at the end of the tunnel. This pandemic has the potential to bring drastic changes in purchasing behavior of consumers as well as their beliefs and choices. These changes and subsequent gaps in consumer behavior will manifest into massive new opportunities that can be exploited in the post Covid era. In my opinion, incorporating changes in business models to adapt to the new normal will take atleast one year, notwithstanding the developments in developing vaccines as well enacting policies to support the economic recovery process.
2. What instruments of pro-development programs for reviving economic processes should be used to make the INDIAN economy recover from the crisis faster?
Dr. Ritesh : After almost 3 months in lockdown, many parts of the country are slowly crawling back to normalcy thanks to the ease of restrictions in such parts by the Central Government and various state governments. What remains to be seen is whether economic activity can catch up to pre Covid levels soon enough or not. For this, the government needs to take active steps to help MSMEs that have been hit hard. These MSMEs are the backbone of our economy and are the key drivers of the successful Indian economic story. A staggering 40% of the entire workforce of the country is employed in these enterprises. So in order to effectively navigate this crisis, the government needs to help MSMEs survive and revive their operations as much as they can.
A good start to that effect is the announcement of the recovery package for MSMEs in forms of collateral free loans, in addition to a 12-month moratorium as well as 100% credit guarantee to cover the same. Atmanirbhar Bharat is a positive and reassuring initiative and needs to give a lot of emphasis on enabling our homegrown companies to compete with international products on both price and quality factors.
3. How do you see the role of AI/ machine learning/ Robotics in creating positive experience towards marketing? Is market too much nascent to accept it?
Dr. Ritesh : The introduction of artificial intelligence in business, as well as in our lives is a massive value addition. I am a firm believer in adapting advanced technologies to improve standards of living as well as facilitating economic activities. With consumer beliefs, ideals and expectations constantly evolving, it is becoming essential for companies to employ techniques to stay ahead of the curve with their value propositions. This is where in my opinion AI can play a very enabling role. Be it smart insights into developing and managing campaigns or increasing competitive advantage through the use of data, AI can play a role everywhere. As I’ve always said, the market is always ripe for disruption if the right product comes along. That been said, the product needs to solve an actual human/business problem, research based AI has not been productized well, & until that happens, it will be a great scientific achievement but adoption at scale would be still a distant dream.
4. Corona impacts on the life and behaviour of the people. Does it will change the World socially and economically?
Dr. Ritesh : The human history has countless examples of instances where new socio-economic rationales have been formed after debilitating losses of life in a crisis, be it natural or man made. Many countries were made or broken after the world wars, and endemics have shaped social as well as religious beliefs in many places. Just like that, the coronavirus pandemic will also leave its impact on our world. Many issues like mental health and economic disparities have come to the fore and are now being discussed and debated passionately. Parochial attitudes towards money making have given way to more holistic thinking of work-life balance. We have even seen how entire companies can operate without employees working in the office and just from their homes! So there is a subtle change that is underway right now. Been said that, I feel that we’ll come out of this despair much more stronger & fundamentally firmer.
5. Why deep tech startup India’s major disruptors?
The beauty about technology is that it enables us to solve problems that are otherwise seemingly too large to fathom. Massive standardization of quality as well as permanent solutions to major gaps are a result of novel innovation. Today we have deep tech enabling us to detect fake drugs within seconds, forecast natural disasters, ensure clean environment and water, detect lethal medical anomalies and diseases and what not. It is easy to understand then that development of more advanced technology over existing technologies can bring about huge disruption. There are glaring problems in India in many sectors, and it then becomes essential for our entrepreneurs to work towards solving homegrown problems using deep tech.” said by Dr. Ritesh Malik.
6. Tell us a recent news article that interests you?
Dr. Ritesh : https://www.ft.com/content/1f78b882-e270-11e2-a7fa-00144feabdc0
7. In a startup’s journey, the highs are very high while the lows are very low, what do you advise for upcoming startup entrepreneurs?
Dr. Ritesh : To be an entrepreneur is not just about having an idea, but also a plan as well as a burning desire to execute it. Any problem or gap worth addressing presents itself as a major challenge in the beginning. But what any entrepreneur must never forget is that for them, its not a problem but an opportunity. Once you incorporate that philosophy, it becomes a bit easier to weather all the storms during the process of making use of that opportunity. New entrepreneurs have to constantly remind themselves of why they started their journey. Opportunities make you lose sleep. That feeling when you’re working towards a solution that can benefit a large number of people should always be at the back of one’s mind. They should also never forget that learning is a constant process. You can’t learn how to solve problems or build anything by just reading or hearing about other people. That will, to learn by doing, is what ultimately brings success. So consider failures in your journey as learning experiences and never stop doing things differently.
8. We feel there is a lot of promise from the Indian startup ecosystem with talent unparalleled across the world with incredible promise. What’s your take on the same?
Dr. Ritesh : Just within the last six years or so, the Indian startup ecosystem saw a staggering 4-fold increase in the total number of ventures, and has become the 3rd largest startup ecosystem in the world. It also has the distinction of being the world’s fastest growing startup ecosystem. This tells us that prenominal talent has come into the ecosystem from all walks of life, and there is a massive will to bring about changes for our country. I have no doubt about the fact that we have the best talent in the world as well as the best hidden talent in the world that has not yet found an avenue to shine. After all, good companies are built on the backs of good founders. I have always been founder-first, talent-first. For those who wish to shine, they need to upskill in order to become better product makers, better distribution specialists and have better financial prudence. If we can ensure that on a large scale, I am certain that there is no country in the world that can do better than India.
9. What three words would your friends use to describe you?
Dr. Ritesh : Patient, Focused, Helpful !
10. You are into incubation & promoting young talent & ideas. Lots of youth looks up to you as role model. Any message to them to dealt with COVID19 situation now?
Dr. Ritesh : My message to them will be to evaluate their ideas and business plans in the context of the new normal, as opposed to historical practices. It is natural to expect some upheaval in the sector especially when the entire world is grappling with this crisis. But as I said earlier, if someone has the desire and will to do something, they will. In addition to that, I will also say that family and dear ones come first, even before business. So hope everyone takes utmost care in these times.
11. Social connects where people can reach you out.
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