BITS Pilani is definitely emerging as the entrepreneur-churning machine. Since the past couple of years, there has been a rise in the number of serious startups coming out of BITS Pilani.
Starting with redBus that was backed by big name VC firms like Seedfund; Helion, which was recently acquired by Naspers; GharPay, which raised seed funding from Sequoia and Raju Reddy and was recently acquired by Delhivery to Zivame, which was funded by IDG and IndoUS (now Kalaari), BITSian startups have been doing quite well. More recently, redBus acquired another BITSian startup yourbus.com.
These emerging trends led to the start of BITS Spark Angel Network – an early stage fund for startups with atleast one BITSian co-founder. This also gave a chance to the alumni network to discover interesting startups and to mentor and support them.
The BITS Spark Angels team usually selects companies through a formal procedure every quarter. The selection process is highly selective as out of the 110 odd startups that had applied for funding, only 6 raised investment via Spark.
The startups as part of the programme are mentored by BITSian entrepreneurs like Raju Reddy (Sierra Atlantic), Satish Gupta (Co-founder TiE SV Angels), Manoj Saxena (General Manager, IBM Watson) and Sanjay Nath (Blume Ventures) among others.
Spark Angels have mentored e-GMAT for the last 18 months, guiding us during our decision making process and infusing capital that helped us embark the next phase of growth faster. Throughout our engagement, mentors from Spark have been extremely approachable, even when travelling or while going through the family transition. Whenever we needed advice or bounce ideas, we could get in touch via phone or email. Payal (Co-Founder, COO) and I really thank them for their trust and support.
It’s primarily targeting at funding high potential seed stage BITSian startups. The investment rounds are an annual affair, with the fourth round (IR-4) slated to occur in July-August 2014. Angel funding is targeted towards startups that have sufficient traction with the intent to raise seed funding.
They do have few criteria for startups to qualify for this:
- Have at least one BITSian co-founder.
- Be based primarily in India.
- Have sufficient traction to be eligible for angel funding (e.g. sufficient customer or user base, key partnerships, proven business model or existing revenue streams).
- Be at the seeding stage looking for funding in the range of INR 25 lakh – 2 crore
There are currently over 100 angels as part of the angel network at BITS Spark. Many early stage investment firms like Blume Ventures, Indian Angel Network etchave co-invested/participated along with BITS Spark in various startups. Apart from that, the team also helps startups connect with angels and angel networks giving early stage BITSian entrepreneurs an edge with unique guidance and investment support.
In the last three rounds, they have funded startups like Grey Orange Robotics, Exotel, Tabtor, Framebench, SolarTown and e-GMAT.
Sharing his experience with BITS Spark, Rohit Agarwal, Founder, CEO of Framebench said,
BITS Spark is fast, understanding and mindful of the needs of the founder. Their enthusiasm to go that extra mile – to make sure investments work best both for the investors as well as the entrepreneurs – is amazing.
BITS Spark’s 4th Annual Investment Round kicks off on 1st July and they would be actively looking to invest in BITSian startups. Interested BITSian startups should get in touch with BITS Spark team.
Interested folks may write to the Spark Angels at firstname.lastname@example.org for further information about the BITS Spark Angels Initiative. More information can be found on our website – www.bitsaa.org/sparkangels.
It’s really good to see alumni networks forming angel networks to fuel entrepreneurship and support budding startups.