Podcast #2004.02

Startups in Pollution and Climate Tech: Intellectual Property v/s Execution

With Tejinder Miglani

About Tejinder Miglani: Tejinder is an Angel Investor, and advisor at multiple startups and companies. He was the co-founding CTO at Indiabulls, and most recently co-founded Incedo, a data analytics and tech service focussed firm.

About Sumeet Singh: Sumeet is CEO at GoMassive. He has over 15+ years of experience in finance and fundraising. At GoMassive he focuses on startups in Pollution and Climate Tech.

Sumeet: When it comes to investing in these sectors, there are certain very big elephants that stop other angel investors or other early stage investors. And I think one of the biggest one is that these businesses get commoditized very quickly or how strong patents are going to be, What will be their standing? There’s a huge risk attached, Any thoughts around that?

Tejinder: Sumeet, the first thing I like to say is that I think that we are very early, a lot of innovation is still happening. and if those innovations are backed with capital, it’s very much possible that you could create intellectual property driven businesses also in this industry. So, I would not assume that, that it’s not possible. However, what I also have been in my past life and even today, a firm believer in that intellectual property is obviously very useful, but it comes in many ways and forms and many of those intellectual properties are actually invisible.

And there are great companies out there in this country today and globally, which apparently work in commodity areas, but they have such huge differentiators and internal intellectual property that sets them apart. And so that they actually created sort of monopolies. Like It’s just one of the many names, I’ll just say it here. For example, Asian paints as a paint company. It can’t be any more commodity than that. And in spite of that, if you were to go and check the financial returns of that company, it has done greater than 10% growth every year for the last 15 years as a company. Another example of my own life, my first venture that I was a part of, we entered into an industry which was a commodity industry. It had huge names already there.

And execution differentiation is what led to one more and also it was driven by the fact that the industry itself was growing so there was scope for many-many players to grow and when the industry is growing it allows many ventures to come in, differentiate on execution and become big and therefore the commoditization is not as big a danger as many people could feel. In fact, frankly in so many areas, whether it is waste management, water management, we are barely getting started and the markets are huge. And execution is what will genuinely differentiate.

Sumeet: So, the early mover advantage with teams that have done considerable work. If startups are given additional capital is going to be huge.

Tejinder: Yes, people who are trying to work right now if they backed with good capital, you could get an initial share and as a result build a name for yourself and grow and that will also inspire other people. I would say, I would like to say that I would like to see a climate tech unicorn. And once we have a climate tech unicorn, that’s when the real innovation and investment dollars will flow into this industry.