Gary Vaynerchuck wears several hats. He’s a wine baron, media mogul, investor in Uber, Twitter, Snapchat and Venmo, chairman of VaynerX, CEO of Vaynermedia and VaynerSports and serial entrepreneur and investor. At the moment, he’s scouting for opportunities in India where he plans to invest in a couple of businesses. In an interview with FE’s Srinath Srinivasan the entreprenuer discusses a whole range of issues from what kind of opportunities this country presents to the problem of entrepreneurship here. Excerpts:
What has been your connection with India and what’s your plan for India?
Around five years after starting Vaynermedia, I found a huge Indian community on Facebook and Instagram. I know the scale, I see the data from outside. The entrepreneurial entourage of the community personally attracted me.
In the next half a decade, I will focus on building my personal profile in India, hacking into some of the start-up opportunities and investing in a couple of businesses in India. In 2019, Vaynermedia will have an office in Singapore, that’s immediate. In the long term, Vaynermedia will be there in every market in the world and obviosuly India is heavily a part of this plan.
In the next three to four years, I will be travelling to India frequently which will open up business opportunities. I will then know which company to invest in. I’m excited about it!
How will AI, internet of things or any other new tech will change the way people tell stories? How should content creators and entrepreneurs adapt to these? What is the one big tech you are betting on?
You know, they are going to change a lot of things. I’m a big fan of addressing things when they are here and not when they are coming.
Right now, I’m very aware that blockchain, AI, AR or Voice tech are anticipated to be at scale in probably five to seven years and so I prefer to wait to see them play out substantially before doing anything big.
The strength of mobile connectivity and data plans will determine the similarities and differences between markets when these technologies come out. Irrespective of which platform people spend time on, humans are humans.
We want to stay kind, we want to speak and we want to be informed and communicate with each other. I think knowing this and studying other variables will decide how businesses adapt. Personally, I think Voice tech will be the next big thing.
The penetration of Alexa, Google assistant and Siri in the US is becoming meaningful. Kids here in the US use Voice tech. It just makes our lives faster. With advancement in language processing, languages and dialects should not be a problem in using Voice tech.
From your observation, what’s the biggest challenge to entrepreneurship in Asia, especially in a country like India? Is entrepreneurship going through a sustainable phase?
I think I should talk about the dynamics of parenting in Asia. The parents make their kids do a lot of things they don’t want to do. The problem with the overbearing nature of overparenting societies is that it leads to depression. I think I am going to be creating awareness and be the face of push back.
There are Indians in top positions in the US. I think it’s the parenting culture in India that suppresses entrepreneurship. You don’t have to blame the government or anything else.
You need to blame the parents who tell their kids that becoming an engineer or a doctor is the way to happiness. Poor parenting is also not the sole reason but it is bigger than others.
I think India has plenty of money. There is a complete lack of cultural acceptance to high risk behaviour. We are living through a time of fake entrepreneurship. Things are grossly overvalued. People who are not entrepreneurs are trying their hand at entrepreneurship which leads to crash.
The only solution to this is the crash itself which will weed out fake entrepreneurs.
But to avoid the crash and make things sustainable, people should deploy self awareness to figure out what they’re good at and not yield in to other people’s opinions.