YourStory in Conversation with Amit Grover, Mumbai Angels
Mumbai Angel was started to provide a good eco system to promote entrepreneurship in a city of 15 million people like Mumbai.In a span of 3 years they have significantly helped the startup community to grow, be it with investments, mentoring or strategic support. YourStory brings to you an exclusive interview with Amit Grover, one of the key drivers of the network.
Please tell us about Mumbai Angel Network, the team and vision of the network?
Mumbai Angels was started in November, 2006, with the efforts of highly motivated individuals including Sasha Mirchandani, Prashant Choksey, Praveen Chakravarthy, Manoj Maheshwari, Ranjan Kapur and Anand Jhaveri. They had been lamenting about the lack of a good ecosystem to promote entrepreneurship in a city of 15 million people like Mumbai. They decided to stop complaining and organise themselves into a group to provide financial assistance, mentoring and advise to entrepreneurs to help them get their plans off the ground.
My association with Mumbai Angels began in December, 2006, when I joined Mr Gulu Mirchandani’s office, Chairman of Mirc Electronics Ltd and also a member of Mumbai Angels. Since then, I have been involved in all activities including deal screening, deal closure and mentoring for Mumbai Angels.
What sectors are you looking at?
We are looking at all kind of sectors for investments, including technology, mobile, education and healthcare. Our key criteria remain great teams and large business opportunities rather than specific sector. Overall, we prefer businesses with low capital requirement. In the last 3 years, we have invested in diverse sectors including Reverse Logistics (logistics solutions) Dhama Apparel (climate control gear) and Intrends (beauty and cosmetics products).
What is your typical investment size?
Our investment ranges from 50 lakhs to 2 crores rupees, and higher investments can be done as a co-investment with other VCs/investors. Since we are not a fund, we do not have a fixed corpus or investment targets.
Do you also fund at the idea stage?
Yes, we fund companies at the idea stage. Typically, we get requests from all kind of companies, including business idea stage, product completion stage, early revenue stage etc. mKhoj team (now Inmobi), for example, met with Mumbai Angels at an early stage, and is now one of the most exciting company in the mobile internet advertising business across the world.
What are the non monetary benefits that an investee company can look forward to?
Our engagement begins from the time entrepreneurs meet us for the first time or approach us through our website www.mumbaiangels.com. We are very free and frank in giving advise to entrepreneurs, opening doors to customers and helping them attract teams. We have funded 17 companies in the last 3 years, but I am personally still in touch with many whom we did not fund. In a way, funding is only a small part of our network’s strengths. We have members who are renowned experts in variety of domains including legal, consulting, IT and marketing.
Please tell us about some of the investments you have made till now.
We have made 17 investments in the last 3 years, which include mKhoj (now inmobi) – mobile internet adverting, Myntra – personalised gifts, Apalya TV – live TV on mobile. All of them have got funded in their next stage by renowned VCs like KPCB, IDG, NEA and Qualcomm Ventures. Some recent investments include Cnergyis (HR SaaS provider), Speakwell (English speaking), Screampoint (5D solutions) and Insta Health (healthcare IT solutions).
Whats your investment horizon?
Our group was started with the idea of fostering entrepreneurship, which in my opinion is a patient game. We have no targets of exiting in a certain timeframe, but typically, 3-5 years is ideal. Partial exits are also an option wherein some part of investment is sold to next stage investors and some part is left invested. In this way, entrepreneurs continue to get the benefit of Mumbai Angels network.
Any tips you would like to share with our readers for a successful venture?
There are no tips for entrepreneurship, though there are certain basic level skills that have to be acquired, which can be done in a 2-3 months time period. These include preparing business plan, basics of finance, sales and marketing skills, pricing strategy, distribution strategy etc. As entrepreneurs, you have to be flexible and think beyond your idea or your product. Sometimes, your customer or your competitor can be the best teacher! All the best!