The Indian startup ecosystem has surely matured in the last decade but the playbook is still developing as we continue to navigate through various trends, cycles, and champion many firsts.
India’s largest conclave for startup investors and founders LetsIgnite 2022 came just in time as we collectively grasp an understanding of the market downturn and what it could mean for budding Indian startups to those looking to prosper on the bourses.
If you missed our annual conference, you’ve missed the chance to connect and network with over 300 startup investors and founders and a jovial hosting by the IT capital’s own comedian Kritarth Srinivasan.
The event kicked off with a session on Mindfulness to help the audience be at their best versions, followed by a fireside chat with Rohit MA, Managing Partner, Capier Investments, who shed light on what scaling up can mean for startups and how culture is deeply connected with the scaling up process.
The day-long conference also saw startup and industry leaders coming together to discuss the opportunities amid the crisis and funding alternatives.
Here are the key highlights from our flagship annual conference LetsIgnite.
Every founder’s solution for efficiency
LetsVenture launched Scalix, a SaaS marketplace exclusively for founders to solve the operational inefficiencies that impact a founder’s ability to focus on their core business, in association with its partners, including State Partner Government of Karnataka, Platinum Plus partner IDFC First, launch partners DBS and HSBC, and knowledge partner BCG.
It will be a go-to platform for founders to get assistance related to hiring, legal, banking, and technology among others. It will provide a hassle-free conversational experience for founders who are constantly on the move.
Dr. Ashwathnarayan C N, Minister for Higher Education; IT & BT, Science & Technology; Skill Development, Entrepreneurship & Livelihood, said,
“Like how we in the government have strived for 'single window clearance', Scalix is striving for a 'Single Window for Startup.’ "
He added that technology now has become the core foundation of learning and the government is trying to be futuristic and trying to improvise to keep up with the space. “Innovation cannot be limited to labs," he added.
Shanti Mohan, Co-founder and CEO of LetsVenture, emphasized Scalix and LetsVenture visions for the future and said,
“LetsVenture has always been a founder's first marketplace. Creating and delivering value to founders is at the core of how we design our products and services. Having worked with so many founders, what we saw was that there was a common set of challenges every founder faced, and the same questions kept coming up in most conversations - be it at starting up, or after starting up. Founder NPS lies at the core of our business flywheel and we believe that LetsVenture is naturally best positioned to deliver this. Scalix is the product that will deliver this vision.”
A Compass for the startup ecosystem
LetsVenture has pioneered a credible and India’s largest marketplace for early-stage startup funding for almost a decade now. We have not only raised over $110 million for 500+ startups with a portfolio value of over $8Bn but also developed a growing network of more than 12,000 investors from 60 countries.
With our ears to the ground sensing trends in the private market investment before it hits the news stands, LetsVenture is proud to leverage the intelligence and officially launch Compass, our weekly subscription product mirroring the exciting but tumultuous world of private market investing through incisive and in-depth, data-led stories, reports, and analysis.
With this product, LetsVenture is looking to deliver detailed market stories to our readers’ inboxes. Launching Compass, Shanti Mohan said,
“We at LetsVenture realized the importance of the venture capital data and that is how the idea of Compass was conceptualized. We are not a media company but a funding platform trying to build a product and thus the core essence is different.”
IDFC First Bank to provide wings for the startup ecosystem
We also announced our partnership with IDFC FIRST Bank to explore synergies and support to the startup ecosystem by offering curated products and solutions to startup investors and founders. The partnership makes IDFC FIRST Bank a preferred banker to all startups on LetsVenture’s Scalix platform.
As IDFC establishes itself as not just banking partners but also credible business partners in India's startup ecosystem, the partnership with LetsVenture will further help in our mission of making starting up easier and more efficient for founders.
Bhavesh K Jatania, Head Startup Banking, IDFC First Bank, said,
"Startups are the backbone of India’s knowledge economy and we reckon they will play a pivotal role in driving our economic growth to the aspirational $5 trillion mark."
Funding winter or a ‘cleansing period’?
After the funding boom in the last couple of years that has significantly reduced amid the market downturn and inflation, word on the startup street today is caution. However, Tarana Lalwani, Partner at Innoven, believes this to be a “cleansing period” rather than a funding winter.
During a panel discussion on Alternate forms of funding options for founders, Tarana said, "There’s a lot of dry powder for early stage startups, though I don’t believe there is a funding winter yet. It's a good cleansing period, rather. So the opportunity for good startups to be funded is there."
Shark Anupam Mittal’s take on investment
Anupam Mittal, Founder & CEO, People Group, spilled the beans on his preference of investing in the private market rather than public companies. He said, “The reason why I invest in startups is because public markets don’t work for me. I thought about what my strengths are. I have startups reaching out to me and I knew this is where I had to be.”
“Platforms like LetsVenture have changed the paradigm in India when it comes to this asset class. Everybody should have exposure to asset classes that have been boxed away and are only accessible to UHNI, and LetsVenture is solving for this by democratising private markets,” he added.
Meity and LetsVenture for startups
LetsVenture also announced a joint investment of up to $100K along with MeitY Startup Hub under the SAMRIDH Scheme to enhance the landscape of investment in early-stage startups.
“LetsVenture as a brand has always been driven by the philosophy of helping the investor and founder community to build and invest in India’s startup ecosystem together. LetsVenture being partners and enablers to the Indian private market ecosystem, today at LetsIgnite, we have taken one step ahead when it comes to helping the startup ecosystem, investors, and founders. With this, we believe that we can invest together, build, and solve a larger problem of the ecosystem while providing complete end-to-end features of a marketplace,” Shanti said.
Early Stage Startup Awards
LetsVenture also hosted the first ever edition of Early Stage Startup Awards to recognise the efforts of founders at every stage in their entrepreneurial journey.
From a pool of more than 230 nominations, the winners were shortlisted by the eminent jury panel members that included Sushant Shetty, Head of Channel Liabilities, DBS Bank, Shanti Mohan, Co-founder & CEO, LetsVenture, Vikas Choudhury, Partner, Pivot Ventures, Ritu Marya, Editor-in-chief, Entrepreneur magazine, and Shishir Modi, Co-founder & Chief Business Officer,Niki.ai.
Here are the winners of the Early-stage startup awards:
- Local to Global Hero: Eunimart, an AI enabled end-to-end omnichannel trade and commerce management platform that enables small and medium enterprises (SME) to sell across 100 countries through local ecommerce marketplaces.
- Category Creator: BluSmart, a Gurugram-based startup offering electric ride-hailing mobility service.
- Paid it Forward: Avinash Raghava for building Together Fund, a founder-led VC working with early-stage startups to help transform them into global companies through funding, mentorship, operational guidance, and network.
- Campus Founder of the Year: Edrives, a Bengaluru-based last mile delivery solution provider.
- Debutant of the Year: Toplyne, a SaaS platform in the PLG space with marquee customers like Canva, BrowserStack, and Invideo.
- Bootstrapped Success of the Year: KT Professional, India's first keratin protein focused hair care company providing solutions for hair repair to salons across India.
- Social Impact Startup: Edugorilla Community, a tech-enabled platform for the vernacular state competitive examination of Bharat.
- Innovator of the Year: Indrawater, a Mumbai-based water recycling startup that has built and deployed decentralized electrically driven systems for treating wastewater at the point of source from industrial, domestic, and commercial establishments.
Handpicked startup pitches
The event ended with live startup pitches which is unique to LetsIgnite. The following startups presented their pitches before the investors:
- Extraaedge: A B2B vertical SaaS software company powering over 250 education brands to get product-market fit by helping them increase, manage, and predict their sales.
- Vah Vah!: A seed stage vocational ed-tech startup that offers a live, online training platform. It provides courses designed to start a career or run a micro-business.
- AltMobility: A full-stack EV leasing platform that offers mobility-as-a-service for commercial vehicle users.
- Care.Fi: A new-age HealthFin startup providing smart financing and commerce solutions to hospitals, doctors, and allied suppliers.
- Cub McPaws: A content-commerce ecosystem built for today’s digital native children. It is a cloud-based, safe, ad-free, GDPR compliant social network built exclusively for children.
- KT Professional: A keratin protein-focused brand with an entire product profile dedicated to keratin-based hair solutions.