Uttar Pradesh: Looking for angels to fund promising ideas | lucknow | Hindustan Times
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Uttar Pradesh: Looking for angels to fund promising ideas

Opportunity beckons: Just before the UP Investors Summit, a group of youths with entrepreneurial ability will hold a competition where select start-ups will get to present their business plan before angel investors.

lucknow Updated: Feb 13, 2018 15:00 IST
Manish Chandra Pandey
Kumar Ranjan, an engineering graduate(3rd from right), is the managing director of Lucknow Entrepreneurship and Development Services, which is working to help those who have ideas but no money.
Kumar Ranjan, an engineering graduate(3rd from right), is the managing director of Lucknow Entrepreneurship and Development Services, which is working to help those who have ideas but no money.(HT)

The hype generated around the UP Investors Summit 2018 is unmistakable.

What is not so evident perhaps is an equally important event planned by a few young entrepreneurs for the same purpose of wooing investors.

Who are angel investors?
  • Those who are willing to fund an idea with business promise.
  • Who are expected for angel investors’ meet? Investors from Unicorn India Venture, Your nest venture, India Quotient and Orios are among the few that are expected. They are mostly seed funds and fund on minimum viable product (MVP). If they like a product or service and if it all looks good on paper legally, they could fund. Usually a seed fund can vary from Rs 25 lakh to Rs 6 crore.

Before the Yogi Adityanath government rolls out the red carpet for the country’s top industrialists on February 21, this group of youths with entrepreneurial ability will be busy attempting to offer Lucknow as a destination for investment by ushering in a start-up culture.

They will hold ‘Lucknow#LEADS: The Next Million Dollar Pitch’, a competition where select start-ups will get to present their business plan before angel investors, a term for people willing to invest in business models that they see potential in. The event planned and hosted by the Lucknow Management Association is being supported by the Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI).

Ideas that await an ‘Angel’!
  • There are several people who can teach. Not everyone has funds to run a coaching institute. So how about rental rooms for coaching institutes? The timings can be programmed as per one’s needs. A young mind with spare land has come up with an idea to allow teachers to run coaching institute on timings of their choice. That’s coaching on rent, if you like.
  • There is a business potential in cow dung too. In fact several companies in the country have started engaging in that too. But, back in Uttar Pradesh, a predominantly agrarian state, the business potential of this idea awaits scaling up.
  • On call automotive service and maintenance is another business model that is waiting an ‘angel. The few that are working in this field are largely company specific initiatives while this one aims to cater to all automotives.
  • Over 50 other innovative ideas await an ‘angel’. AK Mathur from Lucknow Management Association says, “Make no mistake, they aren’t mere ideas. They are companies waiting to be set up.”

The event is planned on February 19 on the Amity University campus in Lucknow.

It may not be quite as big an eye catcher as the bigger investors’ meet that will be attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. But there is no mistaking the intensity of what LMA vice president AK Mathur described as the ‘little big effort.’

“We intend to get investors to fund the start-ups. Once funding is ensured, we will help youths set up a company that will run directly under Lucknow Entrepreneurship and Development Services (LEADS),” its managing director Kumar Ranjan says.

“When we came to Lucknow, people said you are just wasting time here. Nothing can change UP. There are no opportunities here. With LEADS we have attempted to turn this notion on its head. It’s a land of great opportunity, great raw talent. Here we are. No biases, no politics. Just ideas, imagination and kick-ass start ups.” Kumar Ranjan, engineer, entrepreneur, LEADS founder.

An engineering graduate, entrepreneur and formerly director for artificial intelligence in an electric car company, Ranjan says he is working with UP minds as he sees “immense raw potential that needs to be tapped.”

In the process, they also intend to change the image of Lucknow whose appeal so far is largely limited to architecture and Mughlai cuisine.

So while the UP government eyes big investment in the state to generate jobs and boost the state’s economy, Ranjan and his men, including LEADS co-founder Akash Srivasatava, are attempting the same in their own way.

When angel investors arrive, many college graduates will vie for attention and present ideas that could surprise you.

How about a medicinal tea shop, rural land brokering or a dedicated e-commerce site for school stationery products as start-up?

Initial screening of the plans has found that many of them have business potential. This is clear from the proof of concept (POC), a documented evidence of why the model could be successful.

The business model is basically two pronged. The first is exclusive to start-ups which are in their ‘seed stage’ or even idea stage.

“We partner with them, invest our time in them and allow them to grow just as it was our company. We don’t charge them anything. But once they start making revenue, we do profit sharing and if they get funded we exit in two years,” says Kumar.

AK Mathur(left), Kumar Ranjan and Akash Srivasatava. (HT Photo)

The second model is helping conventional businesses which are already running into doing better.

“We help them with complete brand positioning and investor relations and show the world why Lucknow or UP is the right place to make investment,” he says.

“What is UP government telling the big investors? Investing in UP will be mutually beneficial for both the state and the company, right? That’s exactly what we are saying too to the investors. Come invest in these minds and their ideas which we know are going to work for a win-win effect,” says Ranjan.

Akash says, “The problem is that all of us have ideas but don’t know if they are workable or how they can be scaled up from a mere idea to a company. That is the gap we are trying to bridge. Our investors’ meet, ahead of the bigger one, is actually an opportunity for these minds, to market them to some of the best angel investors in the country and get funded if at all they are able to convince the investor.”

Recently, two start-ups have been identified in core technology space – augmented reality and cyber security. LEADS has identified they need traction to improve sales.

“If you discount IIT-Kanpur, technology has largely been missing from the state. There are few incubators funding some core research and development to improve technology-space in UP. I am sure we can prove that true innovation isn’t just limited to IITs or any state,” says Abhay Gupta, the founder of Idolyz, which is into augmented reality.

YOUTUBE PODCAST ON START-UPS

A series named ‘Startup underdogs: The untold stories’ will be launched soon. Here, all those from Lucknow as indeed from UP who have made their way up, will be invited to share their success stories. But it won’t just be about their success alone. Their life’s journey and their struggles too will be focused.

‘We may not realise it. but there is a entrepreneur hidden in each one of us. The YouTube series by these fascinating youths who have formed LEADS is all about celebrating that spirit,” says AK Mathur of LMA.