EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH
VictoryTales believe that people who can inspire others are the real hero in the present world and we always look forward to such personalities for our inspirational platform. Besides this, it is said that learning what success is to you is more about deciding what matters most to your spirit and your happiness is all about, we are introducing Ms Vandana Tolani, Founder of Convanto, after spending fifteen years in Singapore and Jakarta returned to India and founded her own company Convanto. Today, Convanto is one of the most well-known boutique investment banks in India and led by a female founder.
Vandana Tolani is a Strategy Advisor / Mentor, Business Management Consultant, Investment Management and having over 15 years of experience in International and domestic business advisory & fund-raise. Her core area of work is fundraising for early-stage start-ups across sectors and industry sub-verticals. Vandana has a diversified set of experiences and has enabled her to develop an eagle's eye for spotting opportunities in industries that are set for long term growth in the Indian economic context. She is also passionate about helping businesses reach the right people and fulfil their business requirements.
A highly organized and detail- oriented professional with a large network of VC Funds, angel investors and family offices. Her vision of driving a two-way value innovation exercise has helped her create trust with most of India's marquee investors.
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Convanto is a boutique investment bank firm with a wide range of services aimed at enabling young start-ups, it provides them with services such as Fund Raising, Marketing & Growth Advisory, GTM strategic Advisory, and value-added services such as building Investor Presentations and Financial Models. Convanto also advise small, medium and large enterprises to raise capital, assist in finding products-market fit and implement a successful go to market & branding strategy.
Our exclusive interview with
Tell us a little about your organization and your organization’s journey so far.
Convanto is a portmanteau of the words “Consultant Vandana Tolani” and it started seven years ago, in Gurgaon, Haryana. It is a boutique investment bank firm with a range of services aimed at enabling young start-ups - it provides them with services such as Fund Raising, Marketing & Growth Advisory, GTM strategic Advisory, and value-added services such as building Investor Presentations and Financial Models. We at Convanto advise small, medium, and large enterprises on raising capital, finding their product-market fit, and implementing a successful go-to-market strategy, branding strategy and brand positioning. Unlike traditional consulting firms, we have proven our operational expertise in bringing money, creating value, and driving growth to help you maximize your results.
Tell us a little bit about yourself (background) and your journey as an entrepreneur, please.
I had my own Family Office in Singapore and Jakarta. I worked as an Investment Banker & Advisor to Family Offices and Angel investors in Jakarta, Indonesia, helping start-ups from a diverse background, from Fin-Tech and B2B Tech all the way to consumer start-ups. I was raising funds for them & providing them with a range of services just as Convanto does today. After 15 years of staying in Singapore and Jakarta, I came back to India. I did investments for a bit, and then returned to advisory. That is when Convanto was founded. Today Convanto is one of the most well-known boutique investment banks in India and led by a female founder. Today, I am also a Venture Advisor with Loyal VC, the INSEAD-led Canadian VC Fund, having a core portfolio of over 160 investments in more than 35 countries. I am also a Partner with GSD Venture Studios, a Silicon Valley-based Venture builder. Over the years, I have arranged Funding for start-ups & growth-stage companies in diverse sectors like, EdTech, FinTech, Consumer B2C & B2B, AgriTech, Health- tech, Food- tech, Disruptive & DeepTech as well as non-Tech sectors. Please do have a look at my website for testimonials. I feel proud to apprise that this month I have been nominated as one of the Top 10 Women Leaders in Wealth Management 2021. My expert opinion is often sought by leading business news channels and publications like VCTV, and Business World, and I have participated in 100+ talks. You can easily see them on YouTube and the VCTV streaming site. https://latoken.com/vctv/investor/1038 and www.convanto.com I am also connected with 300+ investors globally, picking up global deals while being sector agnostic. Our ticket size is $1-$25 million.
Why did you choose entrepreneurship over a job?
About choosing entrepreneurship over job I would like to sum-up with the popular quote of Steve Jobs. Steve Jobs perhaps summed this idea up best when he said:
“When you grow up you tend to get told that the world is the way it is. Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact: Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you. And you can change it, you can influence it … Once you learn that, you'll never be the same again.”
Entrepreneurs don’t just want to change their lives -- they want to change the world. Mark Twain also explained the lure of entrepreneurship best when he wrote, “Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Being an entrepreneur gives me the opportunity to take a calculated risk on a passion. Entrepreneurship constantly presents new challenges. As I overcome the adversity in my business, it leads to personal growth as well. I love owning my own business because I feel there is always something that I can do to improve. Being an entrepreneur is awesome for a lot of reasons, but I think the most important and overlooked reason is that it forces a person to develop parts of their personality that make them more well-rounded and a better person. I think being an entrepreneur is great because the possibilities are endless. You can be as creative and innovative as you want to be, and the results are the most rewarding.
What gets you out of bed in the morning i.e. what’s your source of motivation?
Let’s face it, feeling motivated is perhaps one of the most difficult things you could ever do. If it were so easy, everyone would be making progress and achieving their goals they’ve set out to achieve.
Even worse is when we read countless articles from around the web that make it seem straightforward. As a result, it often becomes frustrating due to it seeming easy to apply on paper. It does little to improve your self-esteem and confidence, especially when you face difficulties in applying the advice you know and understand so well. But all of this should feel encouraging, because one of the main things I personally found with regards to motivation is that it takes very little of it when doing the things, you truly love. It seems very confusing at first, but it makes sense when understood. Have you ever felt like you needed motivation when doing something that excited you? So, I think because I love what I am doing that keeps me going on, having huge responsibilities and having set goals keeps me going on.
During this COVID-19 crisis, what are the measures you have undertaken to continue your business without disruption?
The best measures we took is to give work from home and closed deals online, without much disruption and we went all digital during this COVID-19 crisis. Every aspect of business is online and tech-enabled to ensure automation as much as possible to maintain the required social distance.
What challenges/obstacles did you face in your journey so far?
Coming back to India after 15 years was not easy, but I was determined to move on in my journey. I set up Convanto 7 years ago, a boutique investment bank led by a female founder. Determination is a quality that makes you continue trying to do or achieve something that is difficult. I had to believe in myself and not others, and at one point I even had no support, but I was still firm on my decisions. The day I stopped listening to negativity from many people I found out that I was skilful, talented, and was doing things in the right manner, which was why I succeeded, not mere luck. When many doors closed many others opened, and it felt like God himself was by my side. I think looking for more solutions and less problems, and staying positive and happy, helped me overcome my roadblocks. Ultimately, we always must help ourselves as someone won’t always rescue us, and not giving up easily always helped me.
What comes first for you - money or emotions?
I think a balance of both along with ethics is important to have. What many of us have forgotten is that our money can do so many important things. It enables us to secure education for ourselves or our children, support or recover our health, and gives us freedom to enjoy our lives.
Though we may conflate money with all sorts of attributes—wealth, power, intelligence, style, even human worth—money has no personality of its own. It does, however, reflect our feelings, values, and beliefs. Importantly, money can endow us with an irrefutable sense of freedom. Numbers can’t do that.
Emotions I think we all have but we need to have balance of emotions always. Emotion isn’t all bad. It tells you what you’re passionate about, what really matters to you. It makes you feel alive. The key is self-awareness. Much of our emotional world is unconscious.
How do you handle the pressure and manage stress?
As you know everyone has to deal with pressure, both in their personal and professional lives. In the workplace, this pressure often manifests itself in the form of tight deadlines, demands from your clients, investors etc.
Since stress is unavoidable, it's important to learn how to channel and deal with it in a healthy, productive way. In doing so, you'll not only survive tough situations, but thrive despite of them.
I do morning walk daily; meditation and I drink lots of water. When under pressure, our first response is to work harder and grind through it. But you can't get out of the problem by doing what got you into the problem. Take contrary action by creating a daily habit of pushing away from your work for 15 minutes or more of "purposeful slacking." Walk, stretch, breathe, meditate, be still and allow yourself mental and emotional freedom from all the pressure.
What is one strategy that you believe has helped you grow as a person/start-up?
My persistence was one of the key factors that helped my brand to grow. I was always on my toes, looking for new ideas and ways to position my business, often even stepping out of my comfort zone when it came to the events I did. Moreover, I am a firm believer that growth is largely related to client satisfaction, and so I do everything in my power to make sure they are satisfied with my work. Over time, I have learned that the best way for sustainable growth and success of any relevant strategy is to focus continuously on customer problem-solving or feedback and improving the service to them and their successful experience with what you offer them. This builds continuous consumption, trust, value and growth, and is what I have implemented in my brand. This, combined with my determination and persistence, has helped my brand to grow the most and reach where it has today.
In your opinion what are the keys to success?
The number one lesson I’ve learned in my lifetime is that nothing beats hard work. Hard work outweighs talent and intelligence and is necessary if you want to succeed. This not only means working hard when things are going well but working harder when things are not. It means taking calculated risks and sticking to them, no matter how challenging they are. This is very important to keep in mind as an entrepreneur. No business is perfect, and just like people, they too have their faults, no matter how successful or unsuccessful they may be. Recognizing and accepting these faults as an entrepreneur, facing reality and doing your best to work around these faults is the best way to move forward and the secret to success. With time, I’ve learnt of the importance of adaptability too. How adaptable a business is defining its ability to stay afloat in the future. Being progressive in terms of keeping up with the ever-changing market is of great importance in an industry such as this, and we ensure that Convanto does its best to keep up with these changes.
What advice would you give to someone starting out as an aspiring entrepreneur?
Every single person I know who is successful at what they do is successful because they love doing it. Anything can be done, as-long-as you truly believe it. We led with our conviction rather than rational, because rational said it was impossible. Find something you love and do it better than everyone else. Failure is a steppingstone to greatness, and we all fail. I read the book ‘Power of the Subconscious Mind’ and found it inspiring, and I practiced the law of attraction. Also remember that you will never be criticized by someone who is doing more than you. You will only be criticized by someone who is doing less, so always remember that. Successful people do not put others down.