Q & A with Nandini Hirianniah on new Avataar for The Morpheus

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TheMorpheus

India’s first and one of the best Private Accelerators, The Morpheus was recently in news with ET reporting of it’s shutdown. When we visit the website, the team has written an elaborate blog post explaining that The Morpheus was not going anywhere, but rather coming back in it’s new RADICAL AVATAAR!  “We have decided to take the “Red Pill” and make an attempt to evolve ourselves for the future“, says the blog post, which sums up the entire ideology of the new Avataar. ET did correct themselves with the recent article today.

Below are some stats gathered from the blog post. The Accelerator ran 10 batches so far with 82 startups in it’s portfoe lio. 6 Startups have been profitable,  28 funded and 26 shut down.

TheMorpheus

We reach out to Nandini Hirianniah, to discuss what entrepreneurs can expect from  Morpheus in it’s new Avataar and how they plan to measure happiness of the founders they associate with. Read on!

According to the blog, the plans are to take startups in 2-5 years / 5-10 years & across other categories into The Morpheus. So, what can entrepreneurs expect from Morpheus in it’s new avatar?

A more open Morpheus. Morpheus till now provided value on 3 fronts:

  • Support from The Morpheus  (TM) core team
  • Money
  • Value from morpheusgang

Now, since we are going to be working with founders of really early stage startups and those in the growth path, we think the following will be how it will work. Though, its really early for us to be definitive about what exactly will pan out, as we have not tested this yet and anything in execution is bound to change in an iterative manner.

  • Every founder, at any stage can start interacting with The Morpheus Team at any point in time they think we can add value.
  • Post mutual interactions, TM and founders can decide to take the engagement forward, where they become a part of the morpheusgang.
  • Now, what does becoming a part of morpheusgang mean:
    • Founders believe in conscious contribution
    • Where they give first, help others, etc. before they recieve
    • They get back from the community too
    • They add to the collective consciousness of the community to raise the bar in the gang to evolve
  • This is open for founders of companies at any stage. There is no money involved. Nor is there an expectation of equity exchange.
  • However, if the founders, at any point in time think they are deriving value, can consciously offer to contribute equity for the support they are getting from TM  team and morpheusgang, which will go into a TRUST or FOUNDATION at a later stage. (More details about this have not been thought through)
  • Along the way, the startups which may need monetary support from TM will get it. But these startups need not mandatorily take money from TM, thought we will help them make the required connections as required.
  • We think, this will be beneficial to all founders working towards building meaningful, conscious businesses in India.

What kind of challenges did you observe in the 2-5 years frame companies, that currently the eco-system has not enough support for?

It will be wrong to say that there are challenges which no one is addressing, all challenges are being addressed at some levels. Here are some which we think need more attention to, in no particular order:

Focus on happiness: Just by themselves scale and valuation are the wrong metrics of success of startups. Personal happiness of founders and teams should be first metric and everything else will follow. This should become an area of attention and focus. We have written about this in our post.

Growth of founders: When companies grow fast in first 1-2 years its very challenging for founders to grow at the same pace in terms of maturity & leadership skills. Which leads to situations where they become overwhelmed with amount of responsibility & expectations that come towards them.

Helping founders in their personal growth so that they can effectively handle bigger scale / bigger teams & new challenges. This is one of the biggest focuses for morpheus right now and going forward. We plan to share our learning’s on this front with everyone in the eco-system

Hiring for startups: Although startups are finding creative solutions for this issue, but there needs to be a well thought through and concentrated effort on this front. An online + offline platform where really passionate / creative / willing candidates can find a startup which matches their temperament. This also will be a big focus at morpheus, we are trying to get full time person in our team to lead this effort

Leveraging technology to unlock portfolio / community value: With 160+ founders and 80+ companies we at morpheus were finding it very hard to work effectively. How does a new founder in portfolio get connected to relevant folks in morpheus gang? He has to depend on morpheus team to figure it out and then provide an intro. How does an old founder get to a new founder? Same dependency? Between the 160 founders there are probably 5000+ useful contacts – but there is no way to effectively share these contacts.

There is a need for a tech platform to solve all these problems which are common across all portfolios / all communities. We have been building this platform for last 6-8 months, abhishek garg from morpheus is a leading this initiative and Startup Techies (tech firm run by our partner Sarvjit) is building the product. We believe using technology to help a community stay connected and benefit from each other can be a very powerful tool for any startup eco system to move forward. Once the product is mature we will offer it free to others in the ecosystem.

For the members of The Morpheus Gang, will everything remain the same as it is now?

  • The Current morpheusgang folks, who we owe a lot to, is one big family.
  • They are givers, they mean well for each other and the support amongst them is supremely high.
  • With the “open” approach, they will receive more from the new founders who will come in, having understood the DNA of the gang.
  • The interactions will generate more value to all
  • There will be higher level of support, networking, partnerships, etc. that the existing gangmember as well as the new ones will stand to recieve

Your Suggestions to entrepreneurs on things to keep in mind before they get into Accelerators?

  • What does the accelerator offer? Does that match your requirement.
  • What is the DNA of the people who run the accelerator? Are you comfortable working with them?
  • What do you want to achieve while in their program? Are there any set outcomes? Doest that match with what the accelerator has to offer?
  • Talk about expectations in the open before you signup
  • Figure out if they can offer what they say they do, maybe a trial?
  • Opt for it only if you are truly convinced for the right reasons – it should not be that you’ll get money or follow-on funding or they will launch you on an international platform. These are your expectations and if they dont match-up its disaster.
  • Approach it with your instincts and an open mind, only if you think you need the support of an accelerator. There is a chance you can survive without singing up for a program, with all other support available quite obviously today.

In the blog post, you have mentioned that the criterion of success of a startup is “Happiness” . How can you measure it for the wide range of portfolio you currently have?

On a lighter vein “we measure happiness by the length of the smile on the founders face”. But on a serious note:

  • Why do we need a formula to measure success?
  • At TM we work with founders very closely. We know them as people, individuals, good souls as much as they know us. So constant interactions with them give us the indications of where they are going, how they are doing.
  • If a founder is not truly happy within, it affects his hiring decisions, how he looks at his product, his interactions with his teammates, the decisions he takes. All these are indications and more.

We@TTP wish The Morpheus Team all the very best!