Meet the Scouts - Rishi Chowdhury

Serial founder. Successfully sold one. Successfully failed at many more. Currently founder of Incube Space, and advisor to startups, accelerators, and government-backed startup ecosystem programs globally. Rishi is actively scouting on OpenScout and is based out of London.

What got you into scouting?

Having previously founded an accelerator and events in the startup world, I had visibility of a large number of early stage founders. It made sense formalising some of the intros I was making between startups and investors. This was very informal with close contacts initially but OpenScout gives a platform to offer a wider range of startups visibility in front of a network of investors.

Potential compensation aside, what do you enjoy most about scouting?

I enjoy seeing startups do well and if I really like a founder I hope I can support through experience, intros or share useful opportunities when they may be relevant. Scouting gives another opportunity to add value as well as continue to stay connected to trends on both sides of the investor/startup coin.

What makes you stand out as a scout?

As an advisor to accelerators and government backed programmes of startup support, in emerging ecosystems globally, I have access to early stage startups from underserved locations and underrepresented founders.

If you had $1m to invest right now, where would you put it? (Can be specific startup, or a sector / theme).

I believe there is huge growth opportunities for PropTech startups, and being in that space myself, that is most likely the sector I’d be investing in right now.

Alternatively, fintech in Africa is super interesting in the short and long term so certainly have an eye on what is happening over there.

What do you think is most important about cultivating the relationship between a scout and founder? And between a scout and a VC?

Between scout and founder: personally I believe knowing each other beyond a work environment helps massively. Especially at the early stage, you’re investing in people. I want to do more for the people I believe in and getting to know them outside of a work environment gives me a greater insight to the founder(s).

Between scout and VC: Scout-fund fit is important, knowing why a VC invested in their portfolio founders helps refine the deal flow that comes from a scout to ensure both are efficient in their use of time.

How would you like to see the startup/venture/fundraising ecosystem evolve in the future?

> More transparency on portfolios, LPs and VC structure.

> Greater diversity in investors - often investors will turn down investments because they haven’t experienced the pain and may find it difficult to fully understand the opportunity in front of them. A more diverse range of investors opens up more opportunities but also gives a wider range of founders access to grow and prove their acumen.

> More support in getting people into the industry early on - this pairs with the needed improvement in diversity. This could be a VC/scout programmes that are learning environments but also opportunities for first investments.

> Open opportunities for portfolio startups to invest or get carry in future funds raised by their investors.

You can connect with Rishi on LinkedIn here and follow his Twitter here. Just drop him a DM for a chat 💬.

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