Suresh Mahadevan is the CFO of SureCash, a fintech firm in Bangladesh. Prior to that he was group CFO at Digiasia, an Indonesian fintech firm after spending close to 12 years with UBS bank in leadership positions in Hong Kong, India and Singapore, working in the Asian equities business.
Suresh has been an angel investor for the past four years, participating in more than 20 investments. He also advises several start-ups on strategy, culture building and fund raising. He has an MBA from Columbia Business School, a post-graduate diploma in management from the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Calcutta and an undergraduate degree in electrical engineering.
“We have tried raising a lot of money … the company’s out of cash and I have no other option but to close the company.”
Email to Suresh Mahadevan from solo founder
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Worst investment ever Suresh ventured into angel investing around four years ago, driven in part because his employer UBS, a large investment bank dominant in Asia, decided to ban staff from investing in listed stocks anywhere in the world, at any time. So what could he invest in? UBS said he could invest in ETFs and private companies. So that interested him and he started researching them.
Angel investing target tries to harness India’s other religion – cricket This worst investment ever story centers around his third bid at angel investing, which featured his other passion (more or less India’s No.1 passion), the game of cricket. So the company he was looking at was a would-be unicorn market entrant - a fantasy sports betting app. The way it planned to make money was to let people to pick up their own teams with a mix of players from any teams. Then people could put money behind their teams. Depending on the performance of the individuals, you could get a big win if you picked all the right players. So the model was simple. The company collected all the prize money and distributed 80% of it.
Fantasy cricket app was to be first of its kind In India, cricket is like a religion and Suresh had followed it closely for at least 40 years, so he was very attracted to the idea. The company was a software operation that built an app to allow subscribers to bet money on the people they picked, and they would strongly advertise this as a game of skill, not a game of chance. If a person has followed cricket or baseball for years, then they know who to pick based on the prevailing conditions. So having been an ardent fan of cricket, this was a big factor in why Suresh got excited about the company.
Invests US$100K as noted cricket personality is solo founder What also excited him was 11 or 12 years ago, there had been established an Indian Premier League, professional Twenty20 cricket contest called IPL, and it was a big success. On top of that, the solo founder was highly qualified; he had been to all the right schools, the best engineering school, the best management school, and was a prominent cricket celebrity with millions of followers. Suresh consulted friends in the sports content business, who said Suresh was onto a great idea and also wanted to invest. Suresh felt he was looking at a once in a lifetime opportunity so he put US$100,000 into it, without sufficient due diligence. It was also early days for his angel investing career. He believed that such an astute and market-making play on cricket popularity in India couldn’t lose.
‘I forgot to tell you, he’s bad with numbers’, the first of many red flags Suresh signed up and introduced many friends to the idea, and they also invested. But the first warning signal sounds was when the