Twenty startups – fifteen based in Kerala – wooed a galaxy of seasoned angel investors from all over India, during the 3rd Seeding Kerala event in Kochi last week. They made their pitch at a day-long event organized by the Kerala State Startup Mission (KSUM), partnering India’s largest online investment platform, Let’s Venture and the Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation (KSIDSC).
But somewhat unusually for such investor ‘melas’, the Kochi get together, which one visiting investor called a ‘speed dating session’, had as its centrepiece a two-hour long “master class” where three veteran investors -- Revathy Ashok, Ravi Kaushik and Shivam Shah – explained the art and science of early-stage investing to High Net-worth Individuals (HNIs) and potential investors in the stage.
Potential investors were served a dose of reality by Ms Ashok who anchored the master class: “This is a game of building, not just picking Winners. Be prepared to wait of 5-8 years before you can find an exit.”
But in Kochi yesterday, the over-100 investors did not have exits so much on their minds – but an entry, hopefully profitable, into the state’s young, new startup ecosystem.
Four funds in play:
“It is the first time we are trying to motivate Kerala’s own investors”, explained the state’s IT Secretary M Sivasankar, “Over three investor meets, we have seen sharply increased interest in the investor ecosystem in funding Kerala startups. When we first created 50:50 funds, with the state contributing equal share with investor consortia, we never expected this level of enthusiasm.” Currently, Kerala had four startup funds in play, contributing a corpus of Rs 15 crores each, but investors have committed multiple times this amount taking the four funds to a total of over Rs 1000 crores.
Unicorn India Ventures, Exseed Electron Fund, Indian Angel Network and Speciale Incept Fund are the financial entities the government has selected in response to a tender floated recently. Among the four, Exseed will invest solely in startups based in the fields of space and IT, Mr Sivasankar said. The state will also encourage funds for startups working in the sectors of cancer treatment and disaster management, he added. The state had expertise in fields like Space science – thanks to a large group of experts flowing from ISRO and other Kerala –based aerospace institutions – and this is seeing significant startup traction
KSUM CEO Dr Saji Gopinath said the selection of the four funds would help the state tide over its problem of insufficient funds. Startups anyway required decentralised operations, he added.
Investment horizon 2019
What are the top trends investors should be aware of in 2019? Sanjay Jha, founder of online investment platform, Let's Venture, listed them at the 3rd Startup investor meet organised by the Kerala State Startup Mission in Kochi:
1. Get set for deep techs like AI and machine learning, across most sectors
2. In Financial technology, Insurance and Wealth Management look promising
3. Baby's Day Out! In consumer brands, baby products are an opportunity
4. Social + Commerce is the hot new combo
5.Cloud for SMEs and enterprise, a hardy annual.