Praveen Sinha is the Managing Director of PinCap, an alternative lending platform focused on addressing the debt financing needs of MSMEs. As an external member of the Committee of Startups (CoS), part of a PSU fund investing in startups, he plays a crucial role in supporting entrepreneurial ventures. With a background as the Co-Founder and Managing Director of Jabong, Praveen has been a key figure in its rapid growth since its founding in October 2011.
His expertise extends to operations, supply chain management, finance, HR, and administration. Known for his turnaround skills, he has worked on transformation projects with McKinsey, Maruti, and Microsoft, showcasing proficiency in diverse sectors such as mines, steel, and automotive.
Praveen is also an active angel investor, mentor, and advisor to VCs, sharing his passion for entrepreneurship through engagements with institutes like IIMs, DTU, DU, XLRI, Great Lakes, and Jamia Hamdard.
Here’s an overview of his journey so far as an entrepreneur, based on a previous interview with the Centre for Education Growth and Research.
Parveen’s journey till now
In an interview, Parveen shares that he drew inspiration from a deep-seated belief in creating meaningful contributions to society. Motivated by the idea of building something impactful from the ground up, Parveen has been involved in various startups over time.
However, embarking on this entrepreneurial path wasn’t without its hurdles. The foremost challenge for Parveen was assembling the right team. In the early stages, recruiting smart, passionate, and high-energy individuals proved to be a daunting task. Despite the difficulties, Parveen’s clear vision of establishing best-in-class infrastructure played a pivotal role in navigating the initial challenges that many startups encounter when scaling up.
Is an MBA or a degree necessary to be an entrepreneur?
According to Parveen, successful entrepreneurs require qualities such as perseverance, patience, passion, and action orientation. Contrary to the common perception that entrepreneurship is confined to premier institutes like IIMs and IITs, Parveen emphasizes that these qualities are more crucial than educational pedigree. He says,
“You don’t have to be from the premier institutes, but just possess 3 main attributes: First, Smart or Out of box thinking. Second, being open to ideas that have never been tested. Third, being comfortable in breaking assumptions and courageous in making decisions maintaining the delicate balance between logic and creativity. The candidate should be a self-driven soul who doesn’t shy away in taking the ownership of their areas’ works.”
Entrepreneurial environment in India
Addressing barriers in front of entrepreneurs in India, Parveen points to challenges in the country’s economic landscape, including terrorism, corruption hindering economic reforms, non-inclusive growth focusing on the urban rich, and stalled reforms. The slow pace of regulatory reforms and lack of clarity contribute to India being perceived as a challenging place to do business, affecting investor confidence.
Regarding the higher rate of entrepreneurial failures in India compared to other countries, Parveen suggests that sustainable economic growth is essential. Risks such as terrorism, corruption, and non-inclusive growth pose threats to India’s continued economic progress. He notes,
“We need to continue to maintain the growth trajectory, the market for inputs needs to be liberalized. Good and stable Government is an important factor that impacts the investment cycle.”
To foster an entrepreneurial environment in India, Parveen emphasizes the importance of maintaining a growth trajectory, liberalizing the market for inputs, and ensuring a stable government. Continuous economic reforms and the creation of infrastructure and funding avenues for startups are crucial. According to him,
“The Indian Government must create the right infrastructure availability of funds for the start-ups. There should be a holding mechanism provided by the government for the start-ups in a transparent and accountable way. Government needs to continue to address and repair old infrastructure through public private partnerships at a steady pace.”
Regarding the timing for students to pursue entrepreneurship, Parveen notes a diverse range of individuals entering the field. Some engineers fresh out of top colleges are eager to work in startups, while MBAs with 5-10 years of corporate experience seek a larger role in building something from the ground up.
There are also professionals from consulting, IT, and banking backgrounds, along with those looking to add startup experience before pursuing advanced education. Parveen highlights the common thread of self-motivation and prioritizing substance over financial gains among successful entrepreneurs.
Reflecting on the entrepreneurial journey, Parveen shares that the entire experience has been a continuous learning process. Every success and mistake has provided valuable insights into oneself, the team, and the business. However, if forced to distill it down to one crucial lesson, Parveen emphasizes the importance of maintaining a conservative estimate of both time and money required for an idea to achieve success.
Lastly, his advice to the entrepreneurs is:
“My advice to your entrepreneurs and students looking to join a start-up environment would be to set the right expectations from the onset. Graduates who join startups should be passionate about their work, have a deep hunger for accountability and real responsibility that has a direct impact on business and customers. They should be willing to hone their own skills while simultaneously developing new expertise. Fresh graduates should work on acquiring a skill set that would help them getting hired by start-up organizations. Start-ups look for people who are self-motivated and bring a certain level of functional expertise to the table.”