Today in New Delhi, India
Nov 19, 2018-Monday
-°C
New Delhi
  • Humidity
    -
  • Wind
    -

Startup Saturday: VCats purr at idea of cashing in on Pune startups

Apoorv Sharma, president, Venture Catalysts, talks to HT about talented entrepreneurs and their business ideas which grab investor attention

pune Updated: Feb 16, 2018 21:57 IST
Namita Shibad
Namita Shibad
Hindustan Times, Pune
Pune,startup,saturday
Apoorv Sharma, president, Venture Catalysts(HT PHOTO)

Rs 315 crore in 37 companies in two years is some track record for any fund house. It’s what has given Venture Catalysts the moniker VCats and the investment firm has brought about a big change in the way VCs and startups are perceived.

They not only provide much-needed capital to entrepreneurs, but position startups as an asset class to investors that can generate huge return on investment (ROIs).

Venture Catalysts will be launching their Pune operations next month.

Dr Apoorv Sharma, co-founder and president, Venture Catalysts, shares his view on funding and entrepreneurship.

Product-based startup’s are city’s lockdown

What separates startups from Mumbai and Pune?

Startups based in Mumbai are predominantly fin-tech and commercial startups, while startups working out of Pune are mostly product-based startups.

What are your plans for Pune?

We are already drawing up a layout for our Pune launch. By March we should launch VCats Pune operations.

We are in touch with the high-net-worth individual (HNI’s), angels based out of Pune. Besides, we are constantly scouting for innovative product-based startups from Pune.

We have in fact invested in one Pune based startup, appSAY.

appSAY is a formal communication, a domain-neutral platform which makes it usable for housing societies, banks, educations institutes and small businesses. Their platforms enable the elimination of chaos on WhatsApp

Venture Catalysts: Views and methods

What is your business model?

VCats is an integrated service platform that caters to each and every requirement a start-up might have, starting from seed investment, source operations, raise capital funds, pocket-friendly office spaces to post-investment support such as managing finance and investments, incubation, technology upgradation, team building, community, connections and much more.

Our network is spread across seven states linking through the cities of Mumbai, New Delhi, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Surat, Uttar Pradesh and Raipur.

We have also reached out to international investors and global start-ups through our branches in Doha (Qatar) and Hong-Kong, thus creating a widespread network of investors and business opportunity identifiers to survey the global start-up ecosphere and support concepts that have significant business potential over a long-term.

What makes VCats different from the rest? What is its USP?

We started out with the idea of making India a global startup hub. To that end, we have succeeded in being the first and leading organisation that ensures startups an easy access to not only investment, but also innovation, knowledge-sharing, mentorship and networking opportunities.

What is our USP? Well, it lies in our ability to identify in the very early stages of great business ideas and talented entrepreneurs.

To do this, we have developed a wide network of hubs and startup centres that identify, encourage and promote the development of an entrepreneurial spirit as well as reach out to investors, especially in tier-II and tier-III cities, as well as rural hinterlands of India.

This is further underlined by our figures. In two years we have invested Rs 315 crore in 37 companies and a significant portion of this amount went to startups emerging from tier I and tier II cities.

Networking the business cycle for startups

How did you manage to create this network of investors?

We believe startups are a valuable asset class. This we communicate to all our investors.

We have more than 3,000 investors across India. Our initial networking efforts begin at corporate events where we aim to introduce high-potential business start-ups to corporate powerhouses looking to invest.

These investors are able to serve the dual purpose of providing able mentorship, essential insights and a deep level of knowledge and expertise over particular domains that come in good stead before entering the market.

Secondly, we also try to raise awareness about such investments and extend investment opportunities to interested investors, especially from the non-metro cities of India.

We try to encourage these investors to form a community and leverage the corpus of funds thus obtained to boost the startup ecosystem near them.

We have combined these independently and have formed investor groups as well as corporate groups to create a huge base of 3,000+ investors.

Of course, we provide them with regular, transparent and quick information to keep them invested for the long term.

How has funding changed in India over the years?

While earlier, investors comprised mostly of corporate bigwigs and large industrialists looking to diversify their portfolio, but the current crop of investors is highly diversified.

From young MBAs to small business owners from tier-II and tier-III cities, the investor demography has seen the inclusion of a varied group of participants.

It ultimately bodes well for the Indian economy as different experiences, perspectives, insights and resources brought forth by a diverse group of investors ultimately supplements and strengthen the start-up ecosystem as a whole.

Investments and values

You said startups are an asset class in themselves. Can you explain?

Some time back, startups were considered a wasted, non-performing or a lesser ROI generating investment.

Investing in them was seen more as a good deed (angel investors?) than a great investment opportunity. But that perspective is changing.

Most start-ups now join accelerator programmes as it provides them with enhanced credibility in front of investors as well as helps them to clear the hurdles and the checkpoints that simulate environments (of accelerators) offer.

Thus, the window for errors has reduced greatly, thereby enhancing profitability. This enhances the value for investors. So investors now look at startups differently. They are seen as an asset class that drives quick values.

What in your opinion are the important factors that get a startup funded?

A viable, high ROI generating the idea, detailed planning, talented team, amount of competition are some of the essential factors that investors consider while evaluating a business opportunity.

While the core idea or concept is extremely important, investors have often been noticed to focus extensively on the competency and expertise of the team members.

Furthermore, estimates backed by facts and figures as well as verifiable quantitative data strengthens the confidence of investors in a business idea.

Thus, we suggest entrepreneurs looking for investment to focus extensively on collating extensive data and putting together a team that has the ideal balance of experience, talent and zeal.

Additionally, a business idea that has lesser competition or one that has an organic niche existing in the market has a better chance of receiving funding from the investors.

What in your opinion are the important factors that get a startup funded?

A viable, high ROI generating the idea, detailed planning, talented team, amount of competition are some of the essential factors that investors consider while evaluating a business opportunity.

While the core idea or concept is extremely important, investors have often been noticed to focus extensively on the competency and expertise of the team members.

Furthermore, estimates backed by facts and figures as well as verifiable quantitative data strengthens the confidence of investors in a business idea.

Thus, we suggest entrepreneurs looking for investment to focus extensively on collating extensive data and putting together a team that has the ideal balance of experience, talent and zeal.

Additionally, a business idea that has lesser competition or one that has an organic niche existing in the market has a better chance of receiving funding from the investors.

First Published: Feb 16, 2018 21:52 IST