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The startup world today seems strange.

There was a time when startups would create value by solving a market failure. Today however it seems more about the valuations, the funding, the blitzscaling and the exists. Decacorn is a new social status as if the unicorn wasn't enough.

Now I'm not against the great unicorn wave that India is witnessing. My worry is when promising IIT Delhi undergrads reach out to me at GGI worrying about raising funds even before creating prototypes for their startup idea. Worse, few are worried about funding than zeroing down on the idea. The reality is many promising young minds drop off the race just because they couldn't gas paddle on the funding element.

I fear if we are sending the correct message about startups to the new generation.

How often do we find and marvel at stories of founders with the exception of Zerodha, for solving market gaps without necessarily bringing funding? Now I do know that investors are time-bound for the IRR and that funding realizes profitability with economies of scale, but why are investors and founders shipping the rocket as if it's going to burn !

It seems that the yardstick of defining successful startups today is the amount of return a founder can give to its investors, not to its users. I worry if the 'more than required funding' is more of a distraction than value creators for a founder. Take the recent examples of UPSC rank 1 publicly denying learning via unacademy classes when the latter took the credit for his success.

Funding is important. But it's definitely not the most important variable in the equation. This strangeness of the startup ecosystem can be solved when media, founders, beneficiaries, and investors all come together and create value, both for the good of the business and society!

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Author- Shatakshi Sharma, Cofounder Global Governance Initiative, Ex- BCG, Advisor, Tony Blair Institute

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