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I’m More Than My Surname: Puneet Dalmia

After working on his start-up Jobsahead and joining the family business post selling it, Puneet Dalmia is up at it again. This time not on his own; but by investing in startups and mentoring them. The man who has done it himself is pushing startup ahead with the same passion. The first investment Puneet made
last year was in realty start-up, Prithu. Talking about how it started, Puneet says, “Nitin Bansal was my junior in IIM. He once wrote to me sharing his idea with me. We met and I decided to invest.”

Besides the money, what more Dalmia brings to the table, he states, “There are two or three areas where we are able to add value. One, we have helped them in strategy, so, very clearly, we were able to mark areas where we can differentiate ourselves from others. Second area where we can add value is recruitment. You need credibility to attract good people. The third part is leveraging our connections; there are times when we can open doors for them. Similarly, in other companies, we have helped them with banking discussions.”

Other startups investments by Dalmia include, e-commerce portal for construction materialBuildzar,  private aviation service provider JetSetGo, Fashion rental platform Stage Th3e, citizen engagement platform Localcircles, and bike ridehailing app Baxi. Talking about the risks involved as a retail investor,
Dalmia cautions, “Five years is the minimum time frame I would look at. These are companies with no revenue. It’s like a child, you have to nurture it. These are also very high risk investments. It’s not like you are putting in money and getting five times or 10 times, it can even go to zero.”

On plans to take it in a formal shape, Dalmia says, “We have done this with Ashoka University. Ashoka, ISB and Dalmia have set up an incubator. I am among the founding members of Ashoka University. We are going to continue doing this with Ashoka for next five years. This is the first year.” Seems once an entrepreneur, always an entrepreneur!

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This article first appeared in the Indian edition of Entrepreneur magazine (August 2016 Issue).

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