Being the director of real estate firm Lakshachandi Realty, Rohit Chokhani received proposals from various wealth managers and institutions to invest in alternate asset classes (which were fundamentally private equity investments focused on growth funding).
Making some large investments and co-investing in a startup awakened in Rohit the desire to help entrepreneurs, and it didn't take long for him to start a venture to help investee companies with management, financial management, and connections.
Founded in May 2015, White Unicorn Ventures has seed funded about 15 companies including Routofy, JustRide, ShaadiSaga, HostelHousing, Unstockify, Prime Squares, and Doodle Walls.
Specialising in seed funding and early-stage support for startups, the investment firm will invest at least $2 million in the current fiscal year.
We want to play a critical role in building and nurturing the startup ecosystem by helping young entrepreneurs in their early steps, expansion, bridge funding, as well as providing incubation co-sharing start up real estate space,” says Rohit.
Scrutinising the business
White Unicorn Ventures follows a diligent pre-screening process before signing deals with startups. The scouting process covers incubation centres and educational institutions like IIMs, IITs, business schools, and engineering institutions across the country. The “Grass Roots Unicorn Program” in partnership with universities’ e-cells ensures the availability of funds for entrepreneurs whenever required.
White Unicorn Ventures’ investment strategy takes into account various factors like team size, idea, market overview, profitability, and competitive analysis. Out of the 100 weekly proposals received, the firm meets with only two startups.
We look at a well-qualified team of entrepreneurs, with a zest to learn, work hard, and scale up being the first criterion. Market timing and scalability is of utmost importance for any startup to scale up and we have a keen interest in this aspect,” says Rohit.
By the end of this year, the firm will launch a venture fund of $20 million, and has signed participation agreements with a few overseas small investment funds. Half of the $20-million fund will be spent on cross-border deals with at least $5 million going into real estate/construction/smart cities companies. The ticket size would be around $100,000–225,000.
The venture is looking at investing in sectors such as real estate, IoT, logistics, foodtech, SaaS, healthcare, travel, and fintech, with a range of $100,000 to $500,000 per company.
White Unicorn Growth Centre
A few months ago, the White Unicorn Growth Centre was launched in Santacruz, Mumbai. A hybrid incubation co-working space, it can accommodate approximately six companies, each with a workforce of four to 10 employees.
The startups can avail services like online marketing, OOH media, PR agency, secretarial services, chartered accountancy services, legal services, treasury management, and seed funding. The centre provides a fully equipped workspace with 24X7 access, facilities such as round-the-clock security, Wi-Fi, UPS backup, open office environment, laser printer, scanner, coffee and tea, recreation area, terrace garden, video conferencing, and conference room.
White Unicorn Ventures will open two more growth centres in Powai and Andheri in Mumbai.
Unicorn X Prize
Inspired by PM Narendra Modi’s flagship initiative ‘Start-up India, Stand up India’, White Unicorn Ventures started conducting the Unicorn X Prize contest to reward the best startup idea. Startups from sectors such as Alternate Construction Tech for Housing for All, Skill Development for BPL, E-Governance, Software as a Service, Sustainable Mass Rapid Transport Systems for Smart Cities, and Electronic Medical Records can win prize money of Rs 10 lakh.
The winner will have direct access to all facilities and funding, and one expert from each industry, a DIPP Member, and a Prominent Young Member of Parliament.
The idea will be to look at pain points of citizens using innovative Make in India solutions. We have tied up with IIT-Bombay and giving out prize money to the best ‘Social Track’ winner in their upcoming Eureka B-plan competition which is part of the Entrepreneurship Summit,” says Rohit.
White Unicorn Ventures is planning to set up another quantum of fund specific to Series-A funding. The expansion plans even include the launch of a startup campus and smart infrastructure accelerator.
Emerging micro VC funds
The growing interest in early-stage investment has given a fillip to the number of new micro venture capital funds. As reported by the Economic Times, Manishh Anand, Chairman of Bengaluru-based consulting firm Kroc Flint & Candler has launched Utilis Capital Advisors, a Rs 100-crore fund. The fund will invest Rs 70 lakh–1.4 crore in each startup.
The report also stated that there are currently 12 micro VC funds operating in India. Moreover, a handful of investors have quit large venture capital firms to start early-stage funds. A former managing partner at Ventureast launched Endiya Partners, which raised Rs 100 crore in its first round in January this year.
Mukul Singhal and Rohit Jain also quit SAIF Partners and launched a micro venture capital firm. In June this year, sponsors of healthcare private equity firm Quadria Capital, Amit Varma and Abrar Mir, launched Rs 65-crore ($10 million) healthcare-focused venture capital fund HealthQuad. In the next 12 to 18 months, HealthQuad will be investing in 8–10 healthtech startups across healthcare delivery services and products.
Website: White Unicorn Ventures