In our relentless pursuit of backing startups, we tirelessly focus on identifying founders with the right attitude. From there, we work together to refine their strategies and make their startup successful. A less well-known facet of our approach is what truly sets us apart- our dedication to nurturing solid relationships with our investors.
We take a long-term view when engaging with investors. By long-term, we mean six to twelve months. We spend time and effort building trust, understanding what success means to them and aligning it with the aspirations of our startups. We host curated events to connect them with and understand the pain points our founders are working on solving. These events, called “Founder’s Circle”, are designed to create a safe space for founders to share their stories as well as the challenges they face. It’s an opportunity for the founders to spend quality time and build a professional relationship with our network.
Our investors do not have a mere transactional relationship with us. It is a partnership built on active collaboration with investors that helps us build confidence to embark on the treacherous road ahead. So the process takes months! Such was our journey in partnering with Kumar Buvanendaran, General Partner at nVentures.
Kumar’s versatile expertise, coupled with his track record of propelling companies to great success and securing lucrative exits, positions him as an indispensable mentor for our startups. He is not just an investor but a mentor, poised to steer our startups toward remarkable achievements. When we talked to him, this was the message he gave to our startups!
Kumar Buvanendaran, General Partner of nVentures shares, “I had to be thick-skinned” explaining how he had to brace himself not to be affected, navigating the challenges of building a significant company as a minority entrepreneur in the vast US market. Such hurdles often discourage many, but Kumar, determined and undeterred, succeeded on a grand scale.
Having spent two decades in the United States, Kumar was well-acquainted with the challenges posed by the competitive market and he chose to tackle them head-on. His mission was clear- as a passionate engineer ardently looking to build things, he wanted to provide impactful solutions to his clients’ engineering problems.
Armed with an MS in Structural Engineering from the University of London and years of professional experience, he embarked on his entrepreneurial path in 2008. Kumar’s engineering startup steadily grew, eventually employing over 400 people before he made the strategic decision to sell it in 2019. Yet, Kumar was not content with simply reaping the rewards of his labour. Swiftly pivoting, he bought his current software company, determined to replicate his past triumph. This IT company has grown and is well-poised for a future transaction.
But Kumar’s aspirations extend beyond personal success; he is dedicated to supporting entrepreneurs from Sri Lanka and the surrounding region in achieving their feats in building sizable and prosperous companies. His motivation is fundamentally altruistic: “Living in a competitive country as a minority, I’ve learned valuable lessons. I want to assist young entrepreneurs and become a part of their journey, my passion lies in constructing things, particularly companies.”
Kumar Buvanendaran, who completed his primary and secondary education at Trinity College, Kandy- one of the oldest private educational institutions in Sri Lanka- notes a significant transformation in Sri Lanka since his departure. He remarked, “I haven’t been there for quite some time, but I’ve observed substantial investments in the country, and the improvement in the highway system is noteworthy. It’s clear that things are progressing positively.”
When it comes to comparing Sri Lanka to Singapore, Kumar acknowledges that Singapore is a more investor-friendly destination, therefore the startups there too are more progressive. Pointing out that Sri Lanka has a considerable distance to cover to reach the level of development seen in Singapore, he points out a key disparity, “In Singapore, corruption is virtually non-existent, and that’s an area where we fall short.”
Kumar Buvanendaran’s resounding message to startups is, “There’s no such thing as ‘it’s not possible- because it’s not possible is not a choice! You have to make things happen. If you work smart, you can succeed.” While some believe that hard work alone can move mountains, Kumar emphasises, “Working hard without working smart won’t take you far.” So, in the grand journey of making things happen, remember that the right strategy can turn even the most challenging aspirations into reality.
Kumar, who achieved great success after leaving Sri Lanka, is a brilliant talent with tremendous knowledge and experience. What’s even more amazing is that he’s very eager to share what he has learned with his home country.
At nVentures, we look to connect with Sri Lankans living all over the world. We believe leveraging their passion and expertise is key to achieving economic prosperity. As Albert Einstein aptly put it, “Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world.” Our experiences with Kumar and other Sri Lankan investors in the US, Canada, UK and Singapore, show us just how important it is to nurture these connections.
Fundraising cannot be approached with a zero-sum attitude and a transactional mindset. Before we can ask anyone to part with their money, we first earn their trust -however long it may take. Just like compounding interest, we compound our relationships. nVentures is lucky to have LPs that left Sri Lanka during the late 70s & 80s. And we are honoured to bring them back to empower the next generation of entrepreneurs. We acknowledge that their exposure, skills and mindset catalyse our founders’ growth.