Shark Tank India season 1, was both Fascinating and Dramatic, the Magnus opus which had Love, Compassion, drama, Sympathy, patriotism etc, it wasn’t just a reality show that deals with entrepreneurs presenting there business ideas to a diverse set of investors, but a spiced up family drama where the wannabe brides were trying to impress the grooms family members, with a tadka of IIM.
Anupam Mittal reminded me more than once of the elderly Tauji, who would be silenced by the other aggressive family members, his tag line “Yaar koi mujhe bhi to bolne do”.
Namita Thaper, the vivacious diva, the Badi Bhabhi of the family, would always ensure to encourage the contestants, but mostly beg herself out of the deals.
Aman Verma : The Chota Devar, the daredevil, who would show his flamboyance more than once in every episode, his tag line “Brand to bana denge hum”.
Ashneer Grover: The evil uncle or chacha, he would abuse at will, would love to demean the bride and her family, he was like the Gulshan Grover of 80s and 90s, his tag line “Sab Dogla Pan hai” and “Band Ker de tera business”.
Vineeta Singh : The chooti bahu (younger daughter in law), too talkative, always smiling and empathetic while bowing out of a deal, she had no particular tag line.
The spiced up reality show caught the imagination of the entire country, business ideas became dinner discussions in the average Indian households, we saw young men and women from marginalised sections of the society, taking lead in identifying the problems and putting forth the solution, we saw inventors showcasing painless or no needle blood sugar diagnostic machine, we also saw portable ecg machine which has the potential of saving many lives, and we also saw the humble son of a farmer, hailing from the region which has thousands of agrarians committing suicide every year, coming up with a jugad to make the excruciating work of the farmers easy.
The judges became the instant gods among the average youngsters, there success stories, there struggle and there perseverance made them god like for the average Indian youth, Aman Gupta, the candid and rusty Millionaire, Ashneer Grover the biggest shark in the tank, was brutally honest and calculative, Namita Thaper, very charming but had impressive business acumen, Anupam Mittal had tons of experience and he is probably one of the oldest angle investor in the country. The show topped the TRP charts in no time.
And then came the infamous Ashneer Grover call with the hapless Kotak Bank employee, it shocked me like many loyal Sharktank viewers, it exposed the GOD syndrome pathogen Grover was carrying in his head, in fact it was so dominant that it had simply annihilated the persona of the young billionaire, when I heard Ashneer abusing, I felt disgusted and wondered how a shallow man like him came at the helms of one of India’s leading fintech companies!
The infamous but viral phone call then opened the can of worms, exposed the rotting underbelly of one of the leading Fintech companies of the country, what I understood was that Ashneer and his wife were robbing investors of there money to finance there extravagant lifestyle, there luxury cars and abroad vacations, even the makeup stuff of Madhuri Jain was billed to the company.
Ashneer had stark resemblance with Elizabeth Holmes, slightly miniaturised or probably was in the making of it, a person with compromised morality knows no dearth and can sink the entire ecosystem of budding entrepreneurs for his personal gains, luckily he was caught before he could inflict fatal blow on the fragile ecosystem, or even worse getting away with it, creating a narrative of a system where the fraud and embezzlement becomes a norm and acceptable evil.
Once the rot was out in the open, Ashneer was sent on a forced leave, his wife was sacked, It was meteoric fall of the demigod of the startup world of India, it broke many hearts but it raise some very important questions:
- How can, in todays world, RBI and GOI can leave the fintech companies unchecked and unsupervised?
- With the tons of customer data, including personal data of the millions of users, is there a mechanism to check the likes of Ashneer from profiting from it? Or should they have an unchecked control over it?
- How to save the the image of the Ernest entrepreneurs from taking a hit because of the deeds of a bad unicorns like Ashneer grover?
These are some very important questions which need to be answered before the budding and booming atmosphere of Indian Startup world takes a permanent Hit…