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After redBus sale, Phanindra Sama hints at turning investor

By Pranbihanga Borpuzari

Phanindra Sama could easily qualify as one of the most low-key and humble millionaires in the country. Sama, co-founder of bus ticketing site redBus, saw one of the most successful exits in recent times in the Indian startup ecosystem as he sold the company to South-Africa-based Naspers Group that run sites like Ibibo.com.

The exit in June this year saw Sama, along with his co-founders Sudhakar Pasupunuri and Charan Padmaraju, give up control in the company. Investors Helion Venture Partners, SeedFund and Inventus Capital also exited the company by selling their stakes to Naspers. Sama continues to be the CEO of redBus, which continues to exist as a separate entity since the stake sale did not include a merger.

 After redBus sale, Phanindra Sama hints at turning investor

Phanindra Sama. Image: Entrepreneur India

While financial details of the deal are undisclosed, Sama has made it big. Despite that Sama continues to live a modest life. "What if you fail? Ultimately it is a question of expectations. For example, if we would have told ourselves that at the end of four years we want Rs. 20 crore and failed to reach it, it would have disappointed us. We told ourselves that our basic aim is to live life comfortably and the rest will follow. Our expectations were low and our lifestyle was easy to maintain," says Sama, who still drives his old Hyundai i10 to work on most days.

So frugal is Sama that for one of his meetings with his investors, Sama took a bus from Bengaluru to Mumbai. "All this gives a lot of confidence to you. What is the worst that can happen to me? I can lose everything but my lifestyle is so simple that it would not bother me," says Sama, speaking at the Nasscom EmergeOut Conclave 2013 in Delhi.

For someone who has seen his idea being validated and gone through the entire cycle of entrepreneurship, Sama says the deal of selling his company changes nothing and life goes on. "I have raised money from Kanwal Rekhi and he tells me that money gives you the freedom to do some things that would have not been possible otherwise. I think I would want to deploy some money into things which are not acceptable for the investing community," he says.

Sama says he comes across a lot of entrepreneurs with brilliant ideas but all of them are not fundable since business ideas need to generate money. "I think some of these ideas which are sustainable and are good for society demand our attention and today I think I have some freedom to embark on such activities," he says, hinting at a role of an investor in the near future.

Pranbihanga Borpuzari works for Entrepreneur magazine

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Updated Date: Dec 20, 2014 22:51:47 IST

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