Mumbai, February 17, 2016: What is the common link between the owner of an energy consultancy firm, a finance professional, a former Head of Monetisation at Yahoo! India and the Managing Director of one of the major manufacturers of plastic lifestyle products in India? The answer is quite simple. All of them are actively redefining the very meaning of early stage investment within the country as a part of a strong advisory board of Venture Catalysts, India’s first Seed Investment & Innovation Platform.
Venture Catalysts has also recently added 50 high profile angels on board and has achieved this milestone within a few months of its operational launch. VCats was founded by Dr. Apoorv Ranjan Sharma, Mr. Anil Jain, Mr. Anuj Golecha and Mr. Gaurav Jain as a first-of-its-kind pioneering effort with an end-goal of enabling start-up success through comprehensive one-stop solutions for all early stage start-up requirements. In addition to its founder-members, other prominent angels who are currently associated with VCats include Anirudh Damani, Sameer Shah, Vishal Maheshwari, Daud Ali, Ankush Tiwari, Abhishek Bhagat, Anand Ladsariya, Vikas Kapoor, Manoj Agarwal and Vikram Lakhotia amongst others.
Speaking on the milestone, Dr. Apoorv Ranjan Sharma, Co-founder, Venture Catalysts, said, “The very reason behind the inception of Venture Catalysts was to reinvigorate and revitalise the fractured Indian early stage investment industry by creating a solid network of angel investors to fund and invest upcoming start-ups. Having reached the count of 50 angels within such a short time of our launch underlines the viability of our innovation-centric model.”
Anirudh Damani of Artha Venture Partners, who has been an active angel investor in 25 start-ups such as OYO Rooms & Exotel, seemed to agree. “India, as it stands, is on the cusp of a start-up re-evolution. But while there is a lot of enthusiasm surrounding the start-up industry at present, there is an equally urgent requirement for holistic early-stage infrastructure to support and drive the growth. This is where Venture Catalysts comes in with its one-stop early-stage start-up solutions platform. I am pleased to have joined this novel initiative, and am eagerly looking forward to make my contribution to start-up growth in the country,” he said.
Sameer Shah of Sattva Investments was similarly enthused about joining VCats as an angel investor. Speaking about his motivation behind the move, he said, “Emerging start-ups in the country have to often undergo a lot of hassles before securing any kind of funding. As someone who has been associated with the field of finance for over 26 years, this to me seems very ironic, especially when considering the fact that there is no dearth of funds to invest. Joining VCats gives me an opportunity to support promising ventures both financially and strategically through its platform.”
Ankush Tiwari of Mobilia, who has more than a decade of experience in software for mobility, has a different take. “As a tech professional, I know the kind of impact technology can make on various business functions. With its focus on technology and innovation, Venture Catalysts gives me the perfect opportunity to invest in and mentor promising technology ventures to improve the country’s innovation quotient.”
The Founder of Rivoli Fashion House, Vikas Kapoor, voiced similar sentiments. “Start-ups are the drivers of the country’s economic growth. However, despite being the emerging start-up capital of the world, the support infrastructure for start-ups in India is less than optimal at present. Venture Catalysts aims to redress that imbalance, which prompted my decision to join as an angel investor.”
Through its angel network, venture fund, co-working facility and effective post-investment support, VCats has been disrupting the early stage investment and support landscape in India ever since its inception. The company has involved several high net-worth individuals (HNIs) and businesspersons from various sectors and walks of life as early-stage investors in its network. This will aid in mobilising the country’s start-up ecosystem through funding. It will also lead to more robust growth for start-ups by harnessing the diverse expertise across industry segments available at their disposal. VCats is also actively creating a new breed of Angel investors called Catalysts, who will enable investments and investors for new ventures.
“The main idea behind Venture Catalysts is to facilitate start-up success by providing them with all the tools and facilities required by them for their early stage growth. Each and every angel investor on our network has prior experience in the field of angel investment and entrepreneurship, and has been deeply involved in various business functions over the course of his career. As such, start-ups selected by us to fund not only have access to capital resources, but also to mentors who bring in-depth knowledge and cross-functional experience to the fold. This leads to a more well-rounded business growth for start-ups, who often have round the clock access to their mentors for strategic advice. That, along with our focus on innovation, technology and holistic support infrastructure pre and post investment, is something that sets us apart from the traditional early stage investment firms,” adds Dr. Apoorv.
However, VCats isn’t resting on its laurels just yet. With a target to build India’s biggest and most dynamic angel network, the organisation is looking to involve marquee businesspersons and HNIs in the field of early stage investment and increase its network to 800-1000 angels in the coming future. VCats is also building a corpus of INR 100 crore to provide early-stage investment support to promising ventures, and has already led several big seed investments in high-potential start-ups such as ConfirmTKT and Siftr Labs.