• Hurratul Maleka Taj

Beyond Numbers

As a founder I understand and value the significance of numbers immensely. You may have a brilliant idea and solid execution plan but if the numbers eg. market size, customer demand, market trends, the cash outflow inflow dynamics etc. aren't the most convincing and desirable ones then the project definitely becomes a tough one to consider further for any investment opportunities by anyone.

In the VC ecosystem there is a lot of emphasis on numbers as well, which can be in the form of market size, revenue, MAU etc. etc. but there are also factors beyond numbers that play a crucial role in any project there is. According to me, those factors are the people involved (founding team), the leadership, right timing, right place, network, market dynamics, relentless efforts, patience, persistence, determination and most importantly having a bulldog tenacity. Yes, numbers give us a solid base to start with but great ideas and experienced founders also fail sometimes and those are not because they did not do their math well but because of so many uncertain factors that are playing its part other than the numbers.

Sometimes we see people have the X-Factor, their idea is great, the team has knowledge of the domain they are in, their network is amazing, the market dynamics look favourable but the math that we traditionally consider is still not favouring their vision because it is too early for the market to take it or is beyond understandable for most people who think within boundaries. I think one of the most important thing when you are investing into high risk projects like startups, you need to shed all boundaries there are. The basic maths, models everything are guiding tools but there are factors beyond numbers that need an open, creative, unrestrictive, non judgemental, visionary person and that is the reason we see Apple, Uber, Airbnb, SpaceX etc.

Every idea that is revolutionary will look impossible to many evaluators until it is done and proved one day. The real deal is other than the numbers and projections which would be too early to predict at that stage, what do the people who are the founders have beyond numbers ? Do they have the grit to stay on the path when the road gets bumpy, do they have the passion to not give up even if it needs pivoting and rebuilding, how they deal with failures and most importantly when they talk about it how they feel about the project, how much faith they have in the themselves to make it happen.

Large number of startups fail not because the numbers alone were not right but there were many other factors playing its part. A founder would always know to start solid on numbers but not underestimate the other factors that are equally significant if not more in deciding the fate of the venture.

It took me 2 ventures to understand this where I had uncountable lessons and to put that knowledge through those lessons and experiences in my 3rd. It is never too late, every failure is an opportunity in disguise, it needs someone to turn the table and see it with a different perspective. What is a failure today might become the sole reason to start what becomes a great success tomorrow.

By no means with this article I want to say that I undervalue the significance of numbers but I do not undervalue the other factors that support the numbers and the marriage of two is what it takes to build successful projects a reality.

Rise and shine,

Hurratul Maleka Taj

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