Exclusive: Ace Angel Investor Sanjay Mehta’s true-life experiences that make his investments in startups fool-proof



Sanjay Mehta is popularly known as an angel investor and acts as a mentor to many entrepreneurs, but little is known about how Mehta became the go-to angel investors for many.

He was born in a middle-class Gujarati joint family in Mumbai, and calls himself a ‘first-generation entrepreneur’. He was the first person in his family to take the leap into starting his own business but credits his family for teaching him the art of nurturing relationships with diverse people.

He studied engineering from Mumbai University in 1993 and he was adamant about being an industrialist.
His first company was Bespoke Software Consultancy, while he was interested in IT, he didn’t want to sell computers, he wanted to sell the software inside them.

The entrepreneur that failed and started again

His first venture was successful, but Sanjay felt the need to get out of the country like his peers albeit it was a short trip.

He went at a time when the dot-com bust was about to happen and his exposure to trending e-commerce at the time propelled him to start a B2B commodity trade portal which failed and he returned in 1999. “I lost everything as investors backed out on the term sheet. I had to start from scratch. I realized that this was going to be a rollercoaster ride,” recalls Sanjay.

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Mehta came back to India in 1999 and went back to the grind and started another ahead-of-its-time company which too shut down. Undeterred he started again with Udyog Software India Ltd which was a taxation product company in the year 2000. This third-time-lucky charm turned around things as Sanjay sold the venture to an Indian owned US company in 2004.

Mehta started his last company MAIA Intelligence in 2007 which dealt with business intelligence software and analytics which he sold to Datamatics in 2015. While he was reaping the benefits of the two exits, he invested in real estate which was just in time for the boom.

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Equipped with new found wealth, he decided to look for other areas of investment and entered venture funding with Aditya Birla Private Equity Fund as an LP. He joined Indian Angel Network which was the first angel network and then decided to be an ‘angel’ full time.
Since the past four years, as a full-time investor, Mehta always wanted to either be an entrepreneur or support one and it all started with him watching his father’s hard work. “My father has always been in the corporate sector and he toiled really hard all his life but he never owned anything. If I’m building something, I thought that I should be the one owning it. That’s why I never applied for a job.”

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He shares one instance wherein 1993, as a young lad, he wanted a PC to start his own business that cost up to a Lakh rupees and went to my grandfather to ask for a loan. He suggested visiting a bank, and all the financial institutions shooed him away after which his relatives helped in undersigning for the loan.

The Mumbai-based investor was made to feel the importance of money from the beginning as he paid his own loan installments and it taught him a lot about financial discipline. That’s why Sanjay credits his business learning to his family and his father notably who worked with Fevicol and struck up a business building chord that stuck with him with only one hard and fast rule- ‘Do not innovate in Legal and Finance’.

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