Sholay’s Thakur, Veeru and Jai –The perfect mentor and founding team
Released By:Gautam Sinha (TiE Charter Member, My First Cheque)
“A bad coin is bad on BOTH the sides” says the jailor to which Thakur replies “perhaps that is the difference between human beings and coins”
This begins the quest of the “investor” who wants to trace two “outlaws” to avenge the killing of his family by a dreaded dacoit. For me (like most Indians born pre 1980) Sholay was definitive movie in the Hindi movie industry (similar to what Microsoft, Apple, Google and now Facebook have been in the software/internet industry).
As I begin my career as a seed funder I now look at Sholay’s 3 principal characters (Thakur, Veeru and jai) as the perfect investor/mentor and founding team combination. Let me explain this some more.
The ability to spot entrepreneurial talent is the first step in an investment at a seed stage. In the movie Thakur was able to recognize the bravery, tenacity and straightforwardness of the duo by one shared experience. While the world saw them as “cheats” or outlaws Thakur was quickly able to peal through the outer shell and see the two as men of great courage with a clean heart. The fact that they were on the wrong side of the law and he being a police officer actually was pitted against them did not color his judgment. This is an amazing skill as most of us get “fooled” by outward appearances while investing (the slick presentations, the articulate founders) and ignore the 1 or 2 key characteristics that define entrepreneurs who will succeed.
Jai and Veeru are the ideal founding team as they complement each other with one being the strategist/ thinker who observes and the other being the more articulate/extrovert who builds relationships. At the same time they have enough in common with both being fearless risk takers and have supreme self belief in each other and in the partnership. In one sequence when Thakur asks Veeru if they think they are brave , he replies that together they are enough to take on atleast 15-20 people !It is this mixture of complementary and diverse strengths while having enough in common to keep the partnership going is what makes a founding team formidable.
The best part is that there is no ego in this relationship. They do what is right and don’t bother with WHO owns the idea. There is no boss in this relationship and they are fully aware that without the other they are a force less than half. The fact that they trust each other (and in this context are best of friends which we would need to discount a bit as it is a movie setting) forms the basis of the relationship and there are no questions asked if one makes a mistake (implicit faith).
At the same time they are close enough to each other to pull each other’s leg (with the thinker Jai being the main culprit who is always trying to pull the effervescent veeru’s leg) and like each other’s company. Mutual respect for each other’s ability makes sure that they can literally place their life in the other person’s hand.
To me this trio will always define the best profile of a founding team.