By Nishant Arora
New Delhi, March 6 (IANS) At a time when the Indian startup ecosystem is witnessing billions of dollars pouring in like never before, maintaining moral integrity at the very top becomes crucial, according to Ritesh Malik, doctor-turned-entrepreneur, investor, storyteller and philanthropist.
The true character of a startup founder is defined by how she/he manages areas of conflict, especially moral conflict, he said.
“Everything boils down to character and conduct while chasing a mission for impact. In my opinion, startup founders should adhere to the highest levels of corporate governance and idealism when it comes to running their starship,” Malik told IANS.
In 2016, Malik had started a co-working platform called Innov8, which was incubated and seed funded by Y-Combinator, a San Francisco based startup accelerator.
In three years, Innov8 became one of the largest co-working companies in India. Innov8 was sold to Softbank-backed OYO in 2019, reportedly for Rs 220 crore in an all-cash deal.
According to Malik, while we build a startup, “there should be training for founders on managing capital and resources”.
“Building trust across all stakeholders and valuing resources is of utmost importance. In these times when capital is abundant, founders need to be transparent and take a long-term approach to wealth creation,” he emphasised.
Also, wealth creation should be first for the team members, shareholders and last for the founder, he added.
Malik has been one of the most active angel investors in the country, having invested in more than 60 startups in the last six years.
He started his entrepreneurial journey in 2012, while he was in his final year of MBBS and doing his compulsory rotatory residential internship (CRRI) at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital in Delhi with an augmented reality startup called Adstuck.
According to him, we’re in the golden age of startups in India.
“The sole reason being India’s internet ecosystem is growing at a pace which is unheard of in the entire world. We are the largest digital democracy in the world and consumption is only going to increase,” Malik told IANS.
The internet will not only be a platform for new-age digital startups, but also become the fulcrum of change and innovation for conventional industries.
To the new breed of startup founders/CEOs, he said the core focus for them should be to think long-term.
“Building a startup is a marathon task and any opportunity to create wealth is a byproduct of the impact that you create. Running a startup with fiscal discipline and corporate governance is of utmost importance,” he stressed.
Run your company as if it is a listed company and “always ensure that secretarial practices and financial transparency is maintained”, emphasised Malik who is focused on developing a philanthropic trust to support non-profits in the areas of education, cybersecurity, startup policy regulations and village empowerment etc.
He is the founding member and seed donor at Plaksha University, which is a 50-acre campus under construction in Mohali, Punjab.
(Nishant Arora can be reached at email@example.com)