BOLD is a design driven early stage investment firm that wants to help build companies that are changing the way business is done in Asia. The early stage investment firm has been started by entrepreneurs who're interested in the intersection of data, design and distribution. Kris Nair and Karthik Sridhar are the Venture Partners. Kris, who is also building Fusedcow, has been working with startups for over a decade as a founder, team member and investor while Karthik is building Dataculture.io and is a data analytics expert. And Soaib Grewal, the Managing Partner has a domain expertise in design and business.
The idea for BOLD has been in the works for a while and has now formally manifested with their first investment in Hipcask, a consumer app that helps people discover wines, whiskies and beers. Hipcask is also dabbling into deliveries and is piloting the service in Mumbai. One of the TechSparks companies, Hipcask has been founded by Aneesh Bhasin, a wine connoisseur and lifestyle photographer. BOLD made the bridge investment in January and Hipcask also has other angel investors on board. At a broader level, BOLD is interested in both, consumer technology and enterprise plays.
"We were impressed by Aneesh's domain expertise, and more over his vision for how technology could impact the beverage industry in India and other emerging markets," says Soaib. The investment has been made on a few premises: a) Founder market fit b) a solid product (the app understands tastes of a person and gives 'likeability scores' c) large market (which hasn't been tapped in India). Read more here.
Hipcask is available on the Android and iOS and is just getting started. It has about a thousand downloads with a rating of 4.3 on Android and we gave the app a spin. You sign up and Hipcask asks a few questions to make a graph of your palette on the basis of which the app makes suggestions.
Apart from suggestions, Hipcask has a strong content play and regularly comes out with blogs, infographics and videos that are informational and fun which is obvious considering the sector they play in. The 'get' option on the bottom right when you're onto a screen displaying information about a particular wine or beer lets you order a bottle (only for some parts of Mumbai right now). The Android app is simple to use and I could easily navigate through most of the things without a glitch.
Going forward, Hipcask ahs a wide range of directions it can take but for now, they're polishing the product and taking it to more and more users. "We're also organizing small events like wine tasting and launches which will help in building a strong community around our product," Aneesh told me over a meeting in Mumbai last month.
Apart from the first investment, BOLD has announced the design fellowship program staying true to their design driven approach. It is a program that connects upcoming designers with early stage startups. "We will pair 2 super talented designers with our early stage companies, to help them solve their design challenges. Giving them the chance to experience what it means to work at a fast paced early stage company," says Soaib.
BOLD is already working with a few other companies and will be announcing investments later in the cycle. The team is open to working with entrepreneurs and helping them with design, data and distribution.