Paritosh Sharma is a Delhi-based entrepreneur who has previously worked with corporates as well as startups. While working in the startup space, Paritosh realized the need for validation and feedback for an early stage startup. And this is where the idea for Hashtaag came about.
Over a phone call, Paritosh tells us about the problems a startup faces in the initial stages. “Many a times, startups know their product and the backers as well, but there is no way to effectively engage with these backers,” says Paritosh. The platform aims to get relevant backers who can help the startup as a potential investor in a specific field with an expertise or as a team member.
How is it different from AngelList? “We’ve been asked this question many a times. On AngelList, startups can get backers but the engagement part is missing. How can a particular backer help my startup is the key for me,” says Paritosh. In this effort, Paritosh is joined by Arunesh, Jai and Sathish. Arunesh decided to join Paritosh during a conversation at IIT Delhi’s canteen, and they decided to get their junior from college, Jai, on board too. Sathish, the technology lead, is based out of Chennai. The team is matured and is cognizant about the possibilities around AngelList.
Hashtaag has also undergone incubation at the UCBerkeley-Intel incubator which doesn’t give cash but is a six weeks program where startups with a team and prototype are mentored over workshops and a pitch day with connections to potential investors. Talking about the experience, Paritosh says, “We matured. Six weeks of intense customer discovery and development forced us to get out of our comfort zone and start talking to real users (founders of early stage startups).” Hashtaag was one of the 14 companies that were invited to Silicon Valley to pitch at Plug and Play.
The platform is live and in the three weeks since its launch, Hashtaag has more than 30 startup projects, around 18,000 page views and an average user spends about five minutes on the site. The revenue model revolves around a premium version for startups coming on board. Crowdsourcing in general has been in vogue for startups, and platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo have been used widely but Hashtaag puts it all together as a platform dedicated only to startups to validate, gather backers, engage and grow.