Harvard Alumni Angels India (commonly known as Harvard Angels or “HA”) was founded by Raj Chinai, Ravi Gururaj and Ramesh Shah earlier this year. The three Harvard grads have had successful track records as both investors and entrepreneurs. They are now leveraging their prior experiences to lead the way for very early-stage companies in India to receive their first round of “smart capital”.
On November 29th, with support from Silicon Valley Bank (SVB), HA launched its first formal “HA Pitch Day” where eleven companies were selected to pitch their business plans in a private board room setting. Over 70 specially invited founders, angels, venture capitalists and corporate executives attended.
According to Gururaj, “While final investment decisions are not yet determined, we anticipate that at least three start-ups will receive funding as a result of Pitch Day.” The 11 companies that were ultimately invited to pitch were evaluated from over 200 business plans that the HA team received. As Chinai pointed out, “our approach is to follow a ‘first money in’ strategy. We are comfortable taking earlier risk and investing USD $250,000 into companies that are seeking their first round of funding. For larger rounds, we welcome the opportunity to syndicate with other angel groups. In most cases, we invest prior to a Series A investment from a VC fund.”
HA considers the international network it offers as a distinguishing factor among India’s angel groups. “We are a global investment association, with a presence in Africa, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Japan, UK and the US,” says Shah, one of HA’s co-founders. “For our entrepreneurs that aspire to eventually expand outside India, we are able to leverage our global network of over 500 angel investors. This can be a valuable resource, especially for start-ups that are looking at new partnerships, customers or even access to foreign capital.”
Here is the list of 11 companies:
- Metamagics Computing Pvt Ltd: Metamagics is creating IP to fill gaps in information supply chain. GridSense, the startup’s patent-pending technology, satisfies the needs of business managers, business users and IT support team as regards to their requirements in information supply chain.
- Dplay Mobility Lab: Dplay mobility lab is an MIT start-up for ‘Mobility – Innovation’ that will design and market lightweight, affordable and more efficient ‘last-mile’ mobility solutions to emerging urban and peri-urban communities that desire highly functional products with a high-design quotient.
- 360Living: 360Living.in is India’s digital hub for health & wellness. It is India’s first Web 3.0 social platform for mental and physical health, which facilitates and organizes the search for health & wellness information; leading users to a longer, healthier life.
- Ayojak: Ayojak offers technology solutions & services for event management and ticketing, conference registrations, payment processing, event promotion, and integrated logistics.
- Gourmet Co Retail Pvt. Ltd.: Gourmet Company is a retailer of packaged gourmet foods increasing accessibility and availability of these foods in India through the online retail channel.
- Visarity (Flikz.me): Flikz.me is a AR [Augmented Reality] Creation and Distribution platform for marketers. The start-up is a vertically focused player in the AR space and is focusing on the entertainment industry by connecting audiences with entertainers (video pitch)
- Koolkart: Koolkart is a social shopping platform, where shoppers can find exclusive curated products recommended by the community. The collection includes apparel for men and women, handbags, imitation jewellery, and quirky personal/home accessories. (Complete story and pivot story)
- ContractIQ: ContractIQ is a marketplace where enterprises find and work with small to mid-sized mobile/web dev shops that are trusted by their peers (complete story)
- Harness Handitouch Private Limited: Harness is pioneering a new pedagogy called Touch-on-Cloud, for high school, higher education and coaching segments, bringing tablets to every student and teacher desk, powered by a learning operating system (in HTML5), enabling the teacher to create a collaborative learning experience, blending human and digital content & storing them on the Harness cloud (complete story)
- Tuebora: Tuebora helps organizations ensure that their information assets (on-premise and cloud applications) are secure and free from risk.
- 47Line: 47Line is a services company built by a team of professionals working in the cloud computing space for the last five years