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"Vyavahar Pahle, Vyapar Baad Mein": The Role of Culture in Startup Success

In a thought-provoking discussion held at The Park, Somajiguda, Shanti Mohan, Founder & CEO of LetsVenture & Trica, emphasized the fundamental mantra for successful startups: "Vyavahar pahle, vyapar baad me" (behavior first, business later). This principle, as she elaborated, highlights the critical importance of company culture in the eyes of venture capitalists (VCs).




Shanti Mohan shared this insight during a session titled "The Journey of an Idea," organized by the FICCI Ladies Organisation (FLO) Hyderabad. She was joined by Subrata Mitra, Partner at Accel, known for his pivotal role in Flipkart's monumental $16 billion deal with Walmart. Their discussion with FLO Hyderabad Chairperson Priya Gazdar explored the vital elements that VCs seek in startups: culture, capability, and commitment.



Priya Gazdar set the stage with a historical perspective, recounting how J.P. Morgan, backing Thomas Edison, laid the groundwork for what would become General Electric, illustrating the long-standing influence of venture capital on innovation. This historical context underscored the session's theme of how discerning VCs continue to drive technological and business advancements today.



Shanti Mohan emphasized that for VCs, a startup's culture is paramount. It encapsulates the shared values, goals, and norms that define an organization and its leadership. This cultural foundation is not only crucial for attracting and retaining talent but also for ensuring long-term success and investor confidence. Reflecting on LetsVenture's own journey, she noted that the platform has raised over $250 million, connecting passionate founders with the right investors, demonstrating the profound impact of fostering a strong startup culture.


Subrata Mitra shared insights from his involvement with Flipkart, a startup that grew from humble beginnings to become India's largest online retailer, now part of Walmart. He praised the humility and transparency of Flipkart's founders, particularly during challenges such as the Big Billion Day issues. This openness, according to Mitra, exemplifies the cultural attributes that VCs value: humility, resilience, and a commitment to learning and growth.


The discussion also addressed gender in the venture capital landscape, with both Mohan and Mitra asserting that investment decisions are driven by metrics and passion rather than gender, urging the audience not to use gender as an excuse.


The session, attended by 100 FLO members and students from Anurag University and Symbiosis, highlighted that for VCs like Mohan and Mitra, the essence of a startup's potential lies not just in its business model, but in the integrity and vision of its founders. As India’s startup ecosystem continues to thrive, the mantra "Vyavahar pahle, vyapar baad me" serves as a reminder that successful ventures are built on a foundation of strong cultural values.

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