Imagine you are a startup founder looking to raise funds. After a long hard day at work, you have hit the sack. But at 3 AM in the morning, you receive a call. It’s a US number. You pick up the call and the person on the other side says that he is interested in investing in your company. You are jolted out of your sleep. You take the conversation forward and by 10 AM, the same morning, you are funded! Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction, as Sahil Baghla and the Bluegape team found to their pleasant surprise.
Bluegape has raised funding through an online platform LetsVenture.com which brings together investors from across the globe, much like the well-known AngelList. The Delhi-based company received funds of over INR 1.5 Cr from global investors who connected with the founders through the online funding platform.
“This is a very cool story. We raised this round from eight different angels at LetsVenture, which is way different from how usual fundings happen in India. Out of those eight investors we haven’t met five. These angels showed their interest for investing in Bluegape by looking at a profile and a video pitch of bluegape at LetsVenture. After that we had a phone call of one hour with each of the the angel and they decided to invest. Investors have invested from INR 2 Lakhs to INR 40 Lakhs each. We closed the round with one of the investors within 7 hours just because he (US investor) was assured, for he saw that 6 people had already shown trust in the company, on LetsVenture.” ,says Sahil Baghla, Co-Founder & CEO.
Bluegape received the first round of seed funding of INR 10 Lakhs from Times Internet Ltd. (They were incubated in TLabs). They received another round of funding of an undisclosed amount from backers, including Aniket Khera, Rahul Bhatia and an unnamed internet entrepreneur, early last year.
Bluegape is a two-and-a-halfyear-old startup which came out of a dorm room at IIT Kanpur, in August 2011. They started off by selling personalized posters and have since pivoted several times in search of the perfect business model. Finally, they realized that people are creating the products that they love; be it Messi, Avril or Sachin. Why not just grab their rights and give people ready to pick stuff. This is the concept of fan merchandising.
Since then Bluegape has sold fan merchandise for films such as ‘Krrish3’ and ‘Batman’ and several online phenomenons like ‘Guddu and Gang’, ‘IIT Tips’, ‘We and Football’ etc.
Recently, the website gained super traffic and traction due to the launch of the AAP (Aam Aadmi Party) store.
“We’ve observed a 500% increase in the site traffic after the launch of the store. AAP fans are really passionate about it and word-of-mouth is spreading very fast. If the trend continues, AAP fan store and merchandise would be viral very soon,” says Ayush Varshney, CTO and Co-Founder.
About the latest round of funding, Ayush says, “We are trying to develop a supply chain for products which can be printed/customized on demand. This would help us in moving forward towards our vision which states — ‘Starting a fan store is as simple as starting a facebook page’. Right now we have posters, mouse pads, t-shirts, laptop skins, mugs, fridge magnets, coasters and wall clocks in this category.
Funds from this round would be used to create technology to automate the fan store creation process and increase the range of products in this category.”
The funding was completed within two months with investors from US, Ukraine, Singapore and India participating in the round. Generally, the timeline for raising funds in India is five to six months which involves lot of cumbersome procedure. But in this case LetsVenture took care of the financial and legal side of things and the due diligence.
LetsVenture is an online curated platform to connect startups and early stage accredited global investors and makes fund raising easy for startups. It is founded by a team of serial entrepreneurs and investors, including Shanti Mohan, Sanjay Jha and Manish Singhal.
“Bluegape was our first syndicate closure where the investors discovered the startup online and made investment decisions. LetsVenture.com is truly disrupting the angel investing trends in India. We saw the first indications of a positive behaviour in angel investment when a Michigan-based investor discovered the BlueGape profile on LetsVenture.com, reached out at midnight to the startup, had a brief conversation and made the commitment by 10am IST. It was a 12 hour cycle from discovery to closure on commitment, with an angel reaching out to a startup founder – all engagement being virtual and online!” says Manish about the process.
The deal might have just changed the whole investment landscape in India. LetsVenture has already grown to 200 global investors and 250 startups and it would do the country a big service by making the AngelList-style fundings mainstream in India.