Ashneer Grover demonstrates that the new start-up culture suffers. He is the co-founder and the current managing director of BharatPe, denied that his recent troubles had influenced the acquisitions he made on Shark Tank India. On the contrary, he said that he invested in more enterprises than what was broadcast on television.
Ashneer was asked about rumors that several of his ventures on Shark Tank India had gone through and entrepreneurs are returning the cheques’ in an interview with Money Control. “That’s the funniest thing I’ve ever heard,” he said. All of my Shark Tank investments have been completed. A few deals I missed on the broadcast that the owners wanted me to do. As a result, I’ve had to write more checks than I’ve seen on television.”
Ashneer was one of the judges on Shark Tank India, where entrepreneurs pitch their start-up ideas and seek investment and mentoring from the “sharks” in exchange for shares in their company. On Friday, the show’s first season, broadcast on Sony Entertainment Television, concluded.
Reality talent shows, such as American Idol, have a defined format. The judge, the one who performs the “balancing act,” and the bully are the three judges. On Shark Tank India, Ashneer Grover, who portrayed the latter role, was not putting on a show. He was even underplaying his abrasiveness on TV if the audiotape of him allegedly assaulting, threatening, and berating a Kotak bank staffer is any indication. Unfortunately, as easy as it is to dismiss the BharatPe co-claimed founder’s verbal attack as an isolated incident, his behavior may be representative of a large segment of India’s entitled elite.
Grover, who was placed on leave when the controversy broke, symbolizes the start-up culture, which has recently been lauded for creating a new eco-system that is free of the old injustices and hierarchies. The aspirational paradigm includes BharatPe, a “unicorn” worth $3 billion. However, Grover’s alleged yelling at a bank staff is an example of an older, unfortunately, more entrenched, pattern of behavior. The sheer rudeness of the language and tone is indicative of feudal hubris. Even the self-made tycoon might treat others as if they don’t have any.
Following Grover’s outburst, concerns have been raised about the poisonous work atmosphere prevalent in India’s start-ups. If the wealthy and powerful need a lesson in decency, they should look at the Kotak employee’s behavior during the call. He was courteous, assertive, and persistent in reminding Grover not to squander the respect he had fought so hard to win.