Shubhankar Bhattacharya is a venture partner at Kae Capital, a venture capital firm, and most recently the author of VCs are from Venus, Entrepreneurs are from Mars, ‘a must read for anybody interested in startups and entrepreneurship’ and a ‘great primer for the first-time Indian entrepreneur’. Although this is his first book, Shubhankar has a huge following on LinkedIn and Medium, and we asked him how writing in the online medium felt:
When and where do you write? Do you write everyday?
I typically write early in the mornings (4 am–5 am) almost everyday; there’s greater clarity of thought at that time, and to come up with original ideas. I find it considerably harder to write later in the day, as the events over the rest of the day create thoughts and biases that seem to cloud my ability to think of something original. I tend to write at my desk at home, and my preferred writing platform is Medium.
Do you listen to music while writing? What’s on your playlist at the moment?
Yes, absolutely. Music really helps me in getting into the ‘flow’ of writing. My playlist changes very infrequently, and it’s almost entirely composed of Bollywood songs — recent hits as well as classics from the ’60s and ’70s.
What’s your go-to site for distracting yourself while writing?
YouTube: there is so much waiting to be discovered through videos and documentaries. I love watching stuff unrelated to my writings as a source, not just for distraction, but also for inspiration, to see if there might be learnings that can be applied to what I do. Inspiration can come from anywhere — history documentaries, animal shows, even wrestling programmes!
As someone with a full-time corporate job, how important is writing to you? Do you pursue it as a hobby, or do you see yourself as a full-time writer ever?
I enjoy writing thoroughly and have found that the research involved in writing a good article or book helps reinforce the habit of rigour that is necessary, not just as a VC investor, but for most corporate settings. A year ago, I hadn’t even considered writing in any meaningful capacity, let alone author a book ! So it’s hard for me to take a call right now on whether I might be a full-time writer in the future.
Do you find writing on Medium and LinkedIn liberating? What makes the two outlets so exciting for a new writer?
Very much so. For anyone on the fence about writing, you absolutely owe it to yourself to make the leap and begin!
Each of the two platforms has its own attractions. Medium is by far the best tool for creating beautiful writing, and it is really easy to make the text look pretty. If I may take the liberty of applying (yet another!) analogy, Medium is doing to writing what Instagram or Prisma are doing to photos. LinkedIn Pulse on the other hand, offers unparalleled reach (if your post gets featured) and that of course, is invaluable.
Do you think there’s a larger story to be told about startups in India? What makes Indians so entrepreneurial?
I believe we haven’t even begun scratching the surface yet. There are so many stories and opinions just waiting to be told and heard about startups in and from India. While markets may have their ups and downs, I feel we are still only getting started in India and the coming years hold immense potential. India is a rather unique country with an extremely chaotic mix of variables thrown in. Succeeding and bringing in rapid change into such an economy calls for a different set of rules and a special tool kit that can be more simply be called ‘entrepreneurial’. The entrepreneurial zest and skill-sets have always existed as is amply evident from the success of businesses as diverse as Tata & Infosys.
Three books anyone who wants to start a company in India must read:
Zero to One by Peter Thiel: As close as it can get to a startup playbook, from a man who commands authority and respect in this domain
David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell: To remind every entrepreneur in India (who start off as the metaphorical David) that it is never impossible to beat the many Goliaths in your path.
Jaya by Devdutt Pattanaik: To remind ourselves of our glorious heritage, and that world-firsts can be created in India