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Harvard graduate’s crowdfunding platform gets seed investment of $500,000

Tarush Bhalla
29th Apr 2016
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On Thursday, crowdfunding fintech platform Impact Guru, which is incubated by Harvard Innovation Lab, announced raising a seed round of $500,000 from Singapore-based venture capital fund RB Investments and private investment platform Fundnel. The funding will be used by Impact Guru to diversify its product portfolio, expand its core team, and ramp up its marketing activities to increase engagement.

Impact Guru Co-Founders: Khushboo Jain and Piyush Jain
Impact Guru Co-founders: Khushboo Jain and Piyush Jain

This also marks the venture's strategic tie-up with investment platform Fundnel to target South East Asian markets, attracting more philanthropic and investment capital from Non Resident Indians. This also allows Fundnel to get better inroads into the Indian ecosystem. The two entities will engage in the exchange and collaboration of relevant know-how in crowdfunding, technology and deal syndication.

Since inception, Fundnel has helped investors invest in 10 deals worth over $8 million.

Founded by 2014, and starting off as an online crowdfunding platform for non-profits, Impact Guru has been an active participant for donation funding during the Chennai floods last year, and various marathons and social awareness activities.

With the current seed funding, the platform plans to add ‘reward crowdfunding’ and investments for social enterprises to its offerings, making it a full-stack investment platform. When combined, the total funds raised by Fundnel and Impact Guru add up to $8.5 million or Rs 56 crore in the last one year.

Some of the notable partnerships for Impact Guru includes Oxfam, SOS Children's Village, Habitat for Humanity, Wockhardt, Dalberg and Asha Impact. In the CSR segment, the firm ties up with all Tata Group of companies and Godrej for their causes.

Its advisory board includes names like Sam Raymond, lead crowdfunding strategist at World Bank (Innovation and Entrepreneurship Unit); Calvin Zhang, Managing Director, JPMorgan Asia Pacific; Anthony Oundjian, Managing Director and Partner, Boston Consulting Group and Dr. Huzaifa Khorakiwala, CEO of Wockhardt Foundation.

Piyush Jain, Co-founder and CEO, said,

Through this added push, we plan to raise Rs 50 crore in donations and investments in the next two years. We are of the belief that through a full stack crowdfunding solution like ours, we can make Impact Guru a platform of choice for individuals, nonprofits, social enterprises, or startups for all their fundraising needs, be it small or large.

Piyush’s wife Khushboo is the other co-founder. Through this funding, Impact Guru also announces two additions to its advisory board: Ramana Nanda, Harvard Business School Professor, and Gaurav Gupta, Regional Director for Asia, Dalberg.

Harshavardhan Bothra, Director at RB Investments, said,

“Impact Guru is well-aligned with our investment philosophy of investing in companies with founders who are tackling a complex multifaceted problem through a disruptive approach that provides a rapidly scalable business opportunity. Crowdfunding and fintech are at a very early stage of evolution in India and Southeast Asia.”

In the past, RB investments, which invests primarily in seed or growth-stage rounds, has also invested in Indian companies like Swiggy, Proptiger, Faasos and Ziffi.

The scenario

A study commissioned by World Bank says that the global crowdfunding market could reach between $90 and 96 billion by 2025, roughly 1.8 times the size of the global venture capital industry today.

However, there are a number of challenges in the Indian crowdfunding scenario, including the fact that it is not very investor-friendly and lacking in transparency. However, with rising platforms like Wishberry, Bengaluru-based FuelADream and Ketto, the mindset seems to be changing. Currently, SEBI is also in the process of establishing regulations on crowdfunding.

But having big brands under its hat and having expanded to a full-stack crowdfunding platform, it will be interesting to see how many investments Impact Guru will be able to grab in the coming year.

Website: www.impactguru.com

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