Nilekani says he does not invest in fintech start-ups because he does policy-related work for the government and does not want to have a conflict of interest. Photo: Hemant Mishra/Mint
Bengaluru: Getting millions of rural Indians online, organizing sectors like pharma and logistics, and utilizing Jan Dhan Yojana, Aadhaar and mobile phones are three areas that entrepreneurs can tap into to build sustainable businesses, said former Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) chairman Nandan Nilekani.
Nilekani was speaking on a panel at LetsIgnite, a conference for angel investors and start-ups in Bengaluru, organized by LetsVenture (run by IndiePitch Solutions Pvt. Ltd), an online platform for deal-making for angel investors.
The conference focused on helping first-time angel investors understand the nuances, with panel discussions and workshops on various themes.
Nilekani himself is an angel investor in LetsVenture. He has also invested in Power2SME (BEBB India Pvt. Ltd), a start-up that makes procurement easier for small and medium enterprises; Mubble, an app that helps consumers track their telecom spends; and Tracxn Technologies Pvt. Ltd, a start-up data analytics firm.
Speaking about his investment strategy, he said that he does not invest in fintech start-ups because he does policy-related work for the government and does not want to have a conflict of interest.
“I don’t invest in Aadhaar-based start-ups because I don’t want to profit from something I created. I don’t invest in education because I only do philanthropy. Those are my rules,” he said.
Nilekani also said that for sectors like fintech, the regulators were ahead of the curve, and that it was only in the physical world that regulations—like those regarding taxis and bikes—might pose a hindrance to start-ups.
“We have the technology, the regulatory environment and the financial power to build a completely new architecture (for fintech) where millions of businesses and hundreds of consumers can get loans on tap. That’s going to create billions in value in the next five years,” he said.
Nilekani said that entrepreneurs need to have long-term vision and invest in building a robust team, not just rely on founders, even if there is easier access to capital.
“In those days we couldn’t think of not making money, nowadays it’s not like that. But we had 10-13 years to build Infosys. Today, you need to get your act together in six months,” he said.