BITS Pilani and IIMA grads launch $1M fund to invest in student startups

Bengaluru-based gradCapital aims to support and invest in startups founded by college students and will invest $25,000 in 20 startups in a year.
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IIM-A and BITS Pilani graduates Abhishek Sethi and Prateek Behera have launched gradCapital, a $1 million fund, to support and invest in startups founded by college students. A press note shared by the fund said it will invest $25,000 in 20 startups in a year. Bengaluru-based gradCapital said it has opened the application process for its first cohort of startups.

Abhishek Sethi, Co-founder at gradCapital, said, “We genuinely believe in academic spaces. Think historically, major societal transformations have emerged from university campuses. The LGBTQ+ movement, the microprocessor that runs our phones, or immunotherapy for Cancer - all have their roots in just one college campus.

"Students have been at the origins of these radical ideas. Our vision is to cultivate these academic spaces. Entrepreneurship is a way to bring such strong ideas to life and create value for society and we are betting on such ideas. With this mission, we help students build the companies of the future.” 

Image source: Pixabay

The student-focussed VC fund has been primarily designed to help college graduates grow their exciting ideas into businesses. gradCapital is also being supported by CIIE.CO - The Innovation Continuum, based out of IIM Ahmedabad.

In order to identify startups, gradCapital has hired associates from across the country and decentralised its operations. It has also partnered with student communities across campuses to scout for the best hustling talent out there.

The fund will host an eight-week intensive programme for companies founded and run by college students. This programme will provide a layout conducive to the context of students to make sure they are all set to raise their subsequent funding round.

Apart from building a strong and sustainable structure for their company, these young entrepreneurs will also get countless tools, crucial knowledge, a network of peers, mentors, investors, and funding of $25,000. 

Prateek Behera, Co-founder at gradCapital, said, 

There is tremendous value waiting to be unlocked by students from Science, Commerce, Arts, and Engineering colleges. VCs do not take these bets because it doesn’t fit their risk profile. These companies often are missed by larger VCs due to a gap in the understanding of emerging technologies, millennial consumers or new kinds of economies.”

The programme will provide weekly keynotes, 1:1 mentorship, office hours with experts and, in the end, an investor-focused demo day. They aim to bring out the next generation of unicorns started by founders out of colleges. gradCapital plans to invest in 100 startups in the next three years.

The statement added gradCapital's objective isn’t merely to find some companies and give them a lift. While conceptualising the idea, Abhishek and Prateek successfully ran a pilot to test their hypothesis. They ended up with a thriving cohort of eight companies, including KiranaKart, Humit, Codedamn, Valerio Electric, and Neuralastic.

Edited by Megha Reddy

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