Posted by: bevmeldrum | May 23, 2008

Friday’s Are Different – Gita Patel, a different kind of venture capitalist

I had the privilege yesterday of meeting with Gita Patel, Director and Co Founder of Stargate Capital Investment Group Ltd. Stargate also run Trapezia a venture capital fund aimed specifically at women-led businesses.

Gita is a very passionate individual and we discussed all sorts of topics and a couple of new projects we are working on. One discussion we had related to how she had been inspired by the development of Asian businesses over the last 20 years. I was struck with the similarities between Asian businesses and social enterprise.

In a blog post on her website she says the following about Asian businesses:

  • they’ve always fostered a different business environment
  • they’ve succeeded against some formidable odds
  • many never made it to university, let alone business school
  • they had few networks
  • they often found it difficult to get financial support – banks were reluctant to lend because they didn’t ‘tick all the boxes’ and had ‘no track records’
  • it was a matter of survival – failure was simply never an option
  • whatever the challenges – of culture, tradition, language, access or inclusion – they had a can-do mentality – it made them resourceful, determined to grow and succeed
  • their ingredients were scarcely a secret – work hard, work smart and never lose sight of the customer
  • if they were able to borrow money, they honoured their debts
  • family values were important – they used these to build communities
  • if they weren’t plugged into privileged or influential networks they created their own and ended-up with supportive structures and enabling environments
  • they looked out for the underdog, treated people with respect and business just followed
  • when success is not negotiable, you just think outside the box – there are no limits
  • there’s no-one to blame, so you shoulder all the responsibility and you become accountable to one and all

I can see a lot of those values in social entrepreneurship. Let us hope that over the years that social enterprises become just as successful in achieving their aims as the Asian business sector has been.

As I was trawling the internet this morning trying to learn more about Gita I came across a speech she gave at a Financial Mail’s Women’s Forum event in July 2007. Tucked away at the back of her speech was the following gem …

10 Points to remember for your entrepreneurial journey that will hold you in good stead.

  1. Set your own standards and aspire to achieve them, don’t be afraid of failure (failure is a UK business cancer –for me failure is defined as one damn good idea that didn’t work, so embrace that and move on to the next idea–don’t let that become your baggage
  2. The right ‘Mindset’ for starting a business – its not the easy option, it’s a rocky journey and you have to be tenacious and very focused –it can be lonely planet stuff –positive mindset where success is not negotiable and failure is not an option is what is required
  3. Follow your intuition –it’s what you know for sure without knowing for certain –follow your gut instinct
  4. Remember 100% of nothing=nothing get all the help you can to get your business off the ground
  5. Passion, drive and a tenacity to succeed are crucial success factors and persistence is taken as read
  6. Being resourceful and thinking of unconventional solutions is important, call in the favours, group with like minded individuals
  7. A wisely chosen mentor will also be helpful to you as will a supportive partner
  8. Influential capital is icing on the cake –never underestimate the chauffeur, the cleaner, the PA or the secretary –they may have the key to opening friendly access to people of influence
  9. Surround yourself with positive influences –remember you don’t do negativity
  10. If you want to take a risk, you think you can do it, it is your choice, you go for it –why should someone else know better than your own self belief

Read her full interview here.

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