There are many things happening with early stage investing in India -- lots of startups coming up, and growing interest of angels and early stage investors, but funding remains a problem; there is a dearth of investment with strategic help, and the rise of accelerators and investors.
It can all be pretty mind boggling at times. But for an entrepreneur, the bottom line is to find an investor who brings more than money on the table, respects the equity and works almost like a team member. Now, that is a tough combination.
We earlier wrote about how much equity should be diluted at an early stage and what are the benchmarks. But at the end of the day, it comes down to negotiation and the rapport between the two parties. I was in Mumbai a couple of weeks ago and was pleased to meet Kanchan Kumar and get introduced to how the TiE-IQ Bootcamp functions. In its third batch now, the Bootcamp is a volunteer run accelerator where 8-10 startups are picked every six months and are taken through 60 days of rigorous exercise.
The mentors are all entrepreneurs themselves and the whole program is very hands on where the entrepreneurs are taken through the nitty-gritty of building a venture. Kanchan has more than two decades of experience behind him and runs Emportant, manages and overlooks the program. He is joined by a host of mentors and fellow entrepreneurs in Mumbai, including Anand Jain of WizRocket, Kulin Shah and Pravin Jadhav of FreeCharge (previously with WishBerg), Avlesh Singh of WebEngage, Zishaan Hayath of Toppr, Nischal Shetty of JustUnfollow and many more.
Each mentor works with two startups and they make it a point not to take in more than 8-10 startups. Most of the startups have been Mumbai based till now and the aim of the whole exercise is to bring the startups up to speed and help them learn from the collective knowledge.
The previous batch at the bootcamp saw some promising companies like BugClipper and RippleHire, and the current batch also holds similar promise. The batch is very young with a few products have not even been launched, yet this step plays an important role of exposing the youngsters to the realities of the startup world.
Here is what the present batch looks like:
MondoBoard: Mondoboard is developing an app to find a partner in your locality to play your favorite sport with.
CVLift: Tell CVLift which job you are applying, and it tells you what to put in your resume to make it stand out. It connects to your LinkedIn account and also tells you about the skills you need but don't possess.
QuestionPaperLibrary.com: If you are the type who starts preparing just a few days before the exam, you need QuestionPaperLibrary. You get access to all the past question papers, how often they have been asked, related questions and answers.
Dishoomit: A crowdsourced dish discovery app for iOS & Android.
QPeka: Qpeka is democratising the publishing industry. It provides a platform for established and emerging writers/poets to publish.
ObiNo.in: ObiNo is a mobile, fun and free(mium) way to lose weight. It's your personal weight loss coach in your mobile with you 24/7.
TheAlumniPortal.com: The Alumni Portal is an end-to-end alumni management tool for educational institutes.
All these startups have founders from varied backgrounds and are tackling some interesting problems. They'll be learning some very crucial things and aspects that a technology company should focus on the most -- not focusing just on technology but the bigger picture of business, finding the right market to go after, optimizing revenue model, etc.
For a setup like the TiE-IQ Bootcamp, it can become difficult to manage and realize on expectations, but the model has jelled together well till now. It also shows the willingness of the more experienced entrepreneurs to come together to give back and grow the ecosystem as a whole.