Buzzing. Anybody closely associated with the Indian entrepreneurial ecosystem will agree that that’s the best way to describe the early stage startup scene in India today.
There has been a sharp increase of the new breed of high-energy techies and non-techies who turn down high paying jobs to take a shot at starting a business. With the abundant cheap computing from Amazon, Google, etc. and the explosion of smart phones and 3G, the cost and time of turning an idea into a product is a matter of weeks if not months. Add in the sauce of mentoring networks and relatively easier angel capital, there has been an explosion in the number of startups not just in Bangalore and Delhi NCR, but also the better-quality-of-life hubs like Pune, Hyderabad, Cochin and Chennai.
There are very good incubators and accelerators in India today who are jumpstarting entrepreneurs with mentorship and angel investment. There are also a number of large Indian and foreign VCs and PE investors in the Growth phase, who invest in proven business models and turn them large businesses.
Angelprime is focused on startups in the middle, that need seed capital along with serious time and energy to take them to a stage where they are ready for a large venture investment. In addition, given the background and experience of the partners and their relationships to the Silicon Valley ecosystem, Angelprime would be a natural destination for the startups targeting global markets like the US, Europe, Asia and Africa.
So what is Angelprime? In short, we are a Seed-stage fund that believes in getting deeply involved with the companies we invest in. We don’t invest in more than 3-4 companies a year. This is because we believe that by getting deeply involved, the chances of the companies’ success are much higher. While the founders of the companies very much make all the decisions, by spending significant time with the companies and understanding the context in which the founders operate in, we end up being very good sounding boards and mentors. Since all of us have been serial entrepreneurs, we understand that entrepreneurship is a long and lonely journey and having multiple minds spend sleepless nights on your business dramatically increases the chances of its success.
Energy. Ideas. Leadership. Did we mention energy? That's Sanjay Swamy in a nutshell for you. Best known for his leadership role at mChek, the path breaking startup in secure payments, Sanjay has trodden the tough and demanding path of an entrepreneur all through his career.
After completing his bachelor's degree in engineering, Sanjay headed to Paris where he learned to cuss fluently in French, while getting a Master's degree, one of which proved to be more invaluable than the other over time. A stint at Xerox PARC in Palo Alto provided a moment of epiphany and it's fair to say that things have never been to same since. Bitten by the desire to create, Sanjay embarked on a journey to build world beating teams and products that took him through startups like Ketera and Portal Software, mChek and Zipdial, which he co-founded in 2010.
An active member of the community, Sanjay is a Rotarian and a charter member of TiE. Sanjay also played a prominent role on the UIDAI project under the leadership of Mr. Nandan Nilekani. He is a frequent speaker and evangelist in the entrepreneurship and payments circuits in the country. His life-changing app for 'how to win an argument with your wife' sadly continues remain in slide-ware and unready for field his hometown, Bangalore with wife, Tulsi, and son.
IIT engineer. Stanford computer scientist. Harvard MBA. Entrepreneur. Business leader. Though there are many ways to begin to describe Shripati, he's best known by friends and colleagues for being astute with a razor sharp intellect and yet charmingly unassuming and accessible, with a zen-like devotion to data driven decision-making.
Shripati has combined a passion to build great teams and an extraordinary desire to excel along with a keen eye for spotting the tales that numbers tell through his career - be it as a lead for one of Cisco's most successful switching product lines or as the business head for Cisco's education initiative or as a co-founder of Snapfish, the world's largest photo site, acquired by Hewlett Packard, or at Transarc, which was acquired by IBM, not to mention the stint working alongside Mr. Nandan Nilekani on the UIDAI project.
Having spent substantial parts of working career in the United States and India addressing worldwide markets, Shripati brings a global management perspective. His passion for Indian business was lit when he interned for Boston Consulting Group in India after business school, and has grown through investments in and mentoring of Indian online startups over the last decade.
Shripati enjoys the great outdoors and has hitch-hiked through Europe and trekked the wind swept mountains of the Himalayas and the Andes. A firm believer in healthy living, Shripati diligently practises yoga and meditation, and has the phone number of every organic shop in Bangalore on his speed dial. He lives in Bangalore with his wife, Sowmya and two children.
It's one thing to be an entrepreneur. It's another thing to pull it off multiple times. Bala has been there and done that. While fortune favors the brave, Bala's success is also due to an uncanny knack for spotting trends, an endless reservoir of energy and passion to ideate, strategize and execute and a charismatic, down to earth working style that has won friends and helped him assemble the best teams in business.
Among other things, Bala has built three companies, the latest of which was Snapfish, bought by Hewlett Packard in 2005. As General Manager and MD for Snapfish International, he led its growth into becoming the world's largest online photo site with 100M+ users, and expansion into 20+ countries in Europe and Asia Pacific. Later, he worked with Mr. Nandan Nilekani, Chairman - UIDAI, and played a seminal and leading role in defining the application strategy and developer ecosystem on the UIDAI project, considered widely as the most complex project of its kind anywhere in the world.
To describe Bala as just a successful entrepreneur is to leave an interesting story half said. His insatiable appetite to see the world has taken him on personal adventures across 75 countries in the world and driven him to acquire fluent spoken Spanish and French and a surprisingly effective grasp of German, Portuguese and Italian, endearing him to many a waiter at restaurants all over the world. He has climbed the Kilimanjaro, trekked the Andes, Alps and the Himalayas, motor-biked across the African continent, up the highest motorable road in the world at Leh, ridden boats, camels and ramshackle trains - in the quest for experiencing those indescribable moments which have made him what he is. He shares his love for the world and adventure with his wife, Dana and their three kids.
Prior to Snapfish, Bala co-founded Wyatt River Software, which was acquired by what is now SafeNet and started his career as one of the early engineers who built Digital Link, which went public in 1993. In 2006, he was recognized by University of California - Santa Cruz with its highest honor for alumni as a "Distinguished Alumnus". He obtained his bachelor's degree from Indian Institute of Technology, Madras.
At the end of the day, Bala considers himself as just another guy who likes to drink life from a fire-hose, and believes that there is always a new world waiting to be conquered.
The lifecycle of a typical startup today in India has 3 stages:
Is angelprime for you?
Angelprime typically operates in the Scale Hacking phase of startup. We make rare exceptions and work with Discovery stage startups but only if the entrepreneurs have very specific domain knowledge in a particular area, see a huge opportunity and have a passion and stamina to execute the pivots needed to find the product market fit.
If you’re an entrepreneur, you should approach Angelprime if you meet all of the following criteria:
You’ve been working on an idea, built an early version of the product, have some traction, but not sure what to do next.
You have atleast one co-founder in place, if not the entire team. We do make exceptions to this rule in case of extraordinary co-founders with deep domain knowledge.
Your business has a big market potential. The potential revenue you can generate out of this business in 3-4 years could be millions of dollars or more, if you get the right investment.
You don’t just need money but also somebody deeply involved in your business helping you on a weekly basis.
You can potentially expand your market into other countries.
You have a burning passion and are willing to work 7 days a week, 16 hours a day on your startup.
How to apply?
Please email a brief description about the founder background with appropriate Linkedin profiles and a brief description of the product to email@example.com
By Shripati Acharya & Bala Parthasarathy
Photos are the most emotional products we use every day and the most important activity done with photos is sharing. Just as the sharing of physical prints was popular, the sharing of photos on the internet naturally became a big success. This is what we did at Snapfish in 1999. Instagram reinvented photo sharing on the mobile phone by blending the social network and photos seamlessly on the iPhone, building a user base of 30 million in two years, unheard of in the photo industry. As a small start-up they ran faster and were more agile.
It is in such new, hyper-growth markets that startups thrive. Succeeding in these areas is like navigating a fast-flowing mountain stream - you need to be in a lightweight canoe, which can change course quickly, rather than in a large ship.
Instagram took just 18 months to build scale in its business; the time to create a product online has dramatically shrunk along with the cost. Consumer adoption of new products online is also extremely high today. These factors, coupled with a number of big companies with deep pockets, are leading to these short cycles from launch to exit for a technology entrepreneur.
The value that a Facebook pays for Instagram is derived from the value they expect to derive. This is true for all start-ups; the revenue potential they offer to a potential acquirer is what denotes their intrinsic value. The value of a photo sharing service that can be accessed on a mobile phone by 500 million users of Facebook is what defines the price paid for Instagram.
If we had to pick the three trends that will impact technology entrepreneurship in the near term, it will be the speed of creating new online products at very low cost, viral marketing and the rise of a new breed of global entrepreneurs - the young, high-energy crowd we interact with in Bangalore or Mumbai is no different in attitude from that in San Francisco.
We are going through an unprecedented era in technology where the cost of both creating and marketing most types of online or mobile products is very low. As angel and venture investors provide capital to entrepreneurs, larger companies have no real advantage. The fact that they have large marketing departments or existing sales channels or even legacy customers can actually be a huge burden in making them move slower. Not to mention the politics, channel conflicts and just more stakeholders in every decision.
On the other hand, venture funded startups can focus on customer adoption first before generating revenues. This is typically very hard to do in larger companies focused on quarterly revenues and profits. In our days, the company to beat was Kodak. This we eventually did - Snapfish has 100 million users now and Kodak is nearly bankrupt.
We strongly believe that small startups can beat giants in most areas, by running faster and being more agile. AngelPrime focuses on startups that use technology and the internet to disrupt huge existing markets. We believe there are phenomenal opportunities today to create very successful enterprises in India and are primarily focussed on opportunities in India and nearby markets. We first look for amazing entrepreneurs. Ideas are almost secondary. We then co-ideate with them, prototype, validate and then quickly launch companies.
(As told to Archana Rai. The authors are co-founders of photo sharing service Snapfish, acquired by Hewlett-Packard in 2005. Their new venture Angelprime incubates start-ups.)
We are looking to hire you if:
you have 4-6 years experience
you have the ability to create interactive web content
you have built rich & responsive end-end web application
it's very natural for you to code in an object oriented, clean & optimized way in PHP
you are drawn towards open source and problem solving
brownie points for exposure to Drupal, HTML5 & MySQL
Sigma Technology Park
Building Alpha, Ground Floor
SH 35, Whitefield,
Bengaluru, Karnataka - 560066, India
Mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org