ET Startup Awards 2021: Jury members highlight the qualities that characterize a great startup


Jury members Nithin Kamath, Anu Hariharan and GV Ravishankar come up with qualities that make a great startup.

Anu Hariharan, Partner, Y Combinator Continuity Fund


We live in a time of extraordinary change. It is also a unique time to be an entrepreneur. The strongest startups and founders we’ve worked with at Y Combinator have been agile, regardless of size, and they’ve responded to challenges as opportunities to think differently about their business. I’m excited to see how the nominated companies have adapted and even thrived over the past two years, despite the global problems we have faced. In the initial phase, I take a close look at the team. Do they move fast and do they perform well? Do you have a clear vision and can you inspire people to work with you to develop it? Do they have a good understanding of who their customers are and is there evidence that they are building the right thing to meet their needs? When choosing winners, I not only look closely at the team, but also look for evidence that they are solving a big problem and approaching it in a new way.

Nithin Kamath, Founder and CEO, Zerodha

Nithin KamathETtech

The two things I look for in a startup are the resilience of the business model and sustainability. How well can they survive when this funding cycle ends? This is a question on which I will base my judgment; Personally, I feel this is an overheated market and so these points are even more important. Another thing is the effect of the idea. How many lives change and what problems they solve. In addition, the founders and their careers are most important to me. The chances of success are higher when founders do something around their passion and core competencies, so that’s what I look at the most.


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While some of these metrics may not be relevant for younger startups – such as in the Best in Campus category – for whom the potential of the idea is a better market. But for a startup that has existed for around 3-4 years, resilience and sustainability are important.

GV Ravishankar, MD, Sequoia Capital India


When I look at companies for the ET Startup Awards, I look for those that have demonstrated courage and resilience and have built category leadership positions in major markets, and those that are well-positioned to become enduring and sustainable businesses . All nominees differ in their markets – and some of them are dominant market leaders. Across all categories, we seek founders who have demonstrated strong innovation, disciplined execution, and sensible capital allocation to build attractive businesses on a large scale while creating long-term shareholder value. These awards celebrate the true entrepreneurship that drives the founders of our region to build great companies around the world!


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