Harvard Business School Angels started in 2007 as a special interest group of the HBS Alumni Association of Northern California. Similar groups formed around the world and HBS Angels became a global alumni organization in December 2010. Today, the HBS Angels organization is comprised of Harvard alumni interested in investing in high-potential early stage companies. HBS Angels is open to all Harvard alumni and others affiliated with the university, not just HBS graduates.The mission of HBS Angels is to provide an educational and networking forum for Harvard alumni who are interested in researching and investing in early stage companies on an individual basis. HBS Angels has many chapters all over the world including one in India started by Raj Chinai and Ramesh Shah. Ramesh is the Chairman & Managing Director at RK Group while Raj works with IndoUS Venture Partners. YourStory caught up with Ramesh and Raj to learn more about their investment strategy and future plans.
YourStory: How has the response been since the launch? What kind (sector-geography-stage) of startups are you looking at? Can we expect investment news from you soon?
Raj Chinai: The response has been overwhelmingly positive, with strong support from various groups across the start-up ecosystem, including entrepreneurs, angel investors, VCs and industry executives. We are evaluating start-ups across all sectors and geographies within India. Most of the business plans represent the tech sector and most companies are based in Bangalore, Mumbai and Delhi.
We are beginning to interact with several interesting entrepreneurs from smaller cities and non-tech sectors, and we hope this momentum will continue. We have a healthy pipeline of deals and we are in the process of evaluating a handful with a high degree of interest from our angel investors.
YS: How does HBS Angels India integrate into HBS Angels globally? Can funded startups tap into the HBS Angels network globally?
Raj Chinai: We are a part of the global organization in which we selectively share deal flow and learn from our peer chapters on aspects of the investment process that have worked well vs. those that need to revised. We also share our network of contacts as needed, across industries and geographies, with our peer chapters. We maintain a close collaboration. For instance, we will be participating at our annual HBS Angels conference in Silicon Valley in a few months, whereby all global chapter leads will have a chance to meet and interact on various topics of common interest.
Yes, our global network is one of the unique advantages that our portfolio companies are encouraged to avail of.
YS: As a chapter do you have any plans for the near future (events, programs)?
Ramesh Kumar: Yes, we will be organising pitch event and also the first meet of angels shortly.
YS: Raj, Specifically to you: As part of IUVP you were already active in investing and startups, what motivated you to start HBS Angels chapter in India?
While I am actively evaluating early-stage investment opportunities at IUVP, there is still a gap in the market for investing in companies that have smaller capital requirements ($250K to $500K) and business plans that are mostly unproven or require greater validation than would be suitable for most venture firms. While we now have more angel networks and venture firms that invest in these types of "very early-stage" companies than a few years ago, there still remains a sizable gap between entrepreneurs who are seeking this level of start-up capital and mentorship, and those who are able to effectively provide it. Ramesh and I are motivated to address this need.
We are building the HBS Angels platform to enable entrepreneurs to launch their businesses while receiving sufficient support and guidance from our angel investors. We have a network of angel investors based in multiple cities, including Bangalore, Delhi and Mumbai, and we are actively evaluating business plans from across the country. Our core team, however, is based in Bangalore, which has so far been lacking an organized angel network.
Visit HBS Angels website by clicking here.
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