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With a new Bengaluru office and new partner, Anthill Ventures looks to invest in startups in four key areas

Harshith Mallya
6th Feb 2018
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A global investment firm, Anthill evaluates startups for scalability quotient by measuring them across a rating of 108 parameters, and then helps them go through a ‘speed scaling’ process.  

Anthill Ventures, a leading investment and ‘speed scaling’ platforms for startups, has presence in nine global hubs across the world including offices in Singapore, USA and India. 

The firm recently announced that it had set up a new office in Bengaluru and the appointment of a new partner, Bharani Setlur.

YourStory recently spoke to Prasad Vanga, Founder & CEO, Anthill Ventures, who gave us an overview of how Anthill invests in startups and how they went from making ‘safer, more mainstream’ investments when they launched to now exploring investments in deep technologies. Here is their story.

Story so far

The Anthill core team consists of seven partners- Rajeev Menon, Lakshmi Nambiar, Sailesh Sigatapu, Mahesh Balani, Devang Mehta and Prasad Vanga. The firm has so far invested in 22 startups. Prasad noted that in the first year of their operations, Anthill focussed on mainstream sectors like e-commerce, marketplace enablers etc., now looking at more mature deep tech.

From left to right- Prasad Vanga, Rajeev Menon, Lakshmi Nambiar, Sailesh Sigatapu, and Mahesh Balani.

The firm currently has an overall team strength of 15 employees across the world. Their overall investment thesis revolves around finding right partners globally among funds, family offices and accelerators and then co-investing along with them in highly scalable business ideas that have growth opportunities in Asia and beyond. Prasad explained that while almost half of Anthill’s investments have been global, they always look at startups that could do well in India or Asia and look to provide them market access to the Indian market.

As an early-stage investor, Anthill typically invests in the pre-Series A stage, where cheque sizes can range from a few hundred thousand dollars to $6 million. Prasad explained that Anthill typically invests $100,000 and syndicates the rest from their network, which includes family offices and other funds.

Then, after a year, and depending on the progress and other factors, they typically invest $500,000 and syndicate the remaining funds from their partners, like in the previous stage.

With their new office in Bengaluru Anthill aims to build strong startup industry connects and partnerships with investors and the ecosystem. Prasad, CEO, Anthill Ventures, said,

Bharani brings in strong startup, product and operational experience to Anthill. He will be setting up our Bengaluru office to expand our presence in the startup hub of India. We will expand access to the network of funders, mentors and industry experts globally to help startups build scalable solutions.
Bharani Setlur

Bharani studied at the National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad and started his career as a concept designer with Picopeta Simputers on the Simputer project. He has 14 years of experience building and scaling startups. Prior to Anthill, he held the position of Chief Business Officer at Belong.co and Babajob, Associate Director at MuSigma, and Chief Executive Officer at Webfluenz. As Partner at Anthill Ventures, Bharani will be pursuing investment and market opportunities in products, technologies, science and design, with a focus on growing partnerships, platforms and strategic networks. Bharani said,

Anthill has built an interesting portfolio of investments, as well as a speed scaling platform with fresh approaches to working with entrepreneurs, networks, corporations and investors. As a partner with the fund, I will continue to focus on disruptive products and platforms at the intersection of technology, design and science.  

Anthill’s speed scaling platform aims to help startups cross the chasm and go from a pre-Series A stage venture to Series A and B in a time period of one to two years. Through a network of Speed Scalers, Anthill aims to provide guidance in terms of business strategy, sales and distribution channels, infrastructure and marketing assistance.

Image credit- Anthill

Also, in the initial stages, Anthill evaluates startups for scalability quotient by measuring them across a rating of 108 parameters.

Sector focus

Prasad noted that Anthill would keep running horizontal accelerators in four broad areas and keep looking out for deep-tech startups. The four broad areas are-

  1. Urban infrastructure
  2. Finance
  3. Health
  4. Media and entertainment

Diving deeper into some of these areas, Prasad explained that they are looking to invest in electric vehicles and battery technology when it comes to urban infrastructure, and behavioural biometrics in fintech space is another big interest area.

Anthill will also be launching a media and entertainment accelerator along with a prominent film production house, and looking at investing in disruptive technologies in this space like augmented and virtual reality. He said, “We are in talks with a startup that is trying to recreate green room effects(used in movie production) using phone camera.” 

Coffee plantations are disease-prone and plantation cloning could be a possible solution to make crops more resistant. Prasad noted that Anthill is working with a researcher working in this space. Talking about science, one of their other key focus areas, he said, 

We are very gung-ho about advances in science. For us, technology is not just hardware and software. We found a company in Switzerland that has created a nano-material that replaces cement. It will have huge usage value in a country like India.

Website- Anthill Ventures

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