The startup has raised funding from the cofounders of Groww, Razorpay, Polygon, CoinDCX, Shiprocket, BharatPe, Xiaomi, GoKwik and The Moms Co, among others
The platform will conduct monthly 'off-the-record' hyper-curated group meetings, where a trained executive coach will guide founders through various topics under a ‘strict privacy pledge’
Somani told Inc42 that only the founders who have raised $5 Mn in capital or helm companies that have similar revenues or have garnered $10 Mn in previous exits will be allowed to join the executive club
Former AngelList India top boss Utsav Somani-helmed Offline has emerged out of the stealth mode by raising $2 Mn as part of its maiden funding round that saw participation from some of the biggest tech founders in the country.
Offline has raised the funding from the cofounders of Groww, Razorpay, Polygon, CoinDCX, Shiprocket, Ultrahuman, BharatPe, Park+, M2P, Fashinza, Xiaomi, GoKwik, Mosaic Wellness, Dr. Vaidya’s, and The Moms Co, among others.
The round also saw participation from Better Capital, DeVC, Huddle, Riverwalk Ventures and India Silicon Valley. Influencers Tanmay Bhat and Shlok Srivastava also infused funds into the startup.
Offline will deploy the incoming funding to scale up the platform and expand its product offerings soon.
For the uninitiated, the startup aims to cater to the personal and professional upskilling requirements of the country’s top 10% of tech founders and CEOs. It claims to be a private (members-only) community for the biggest names in the Indian startup ecosystem.
“In the past few years, the Indian startup ecosystem has grown manyfold, but we have not been able to provide an exclusive platform to listen to the inner voice of these top founders. What we want to do is put a trained facilitator in a room and offer an outlet for founders to discuss topics with similarly placed folks,” Somani told Inc42.
But, What’s The Exclusive Factor?
The former AngelList executive-led startup aims to offer founders ‘frameworks’ to stay ahead of their learning curve. As part of this, the platform will conduct monthly ‘off-the-record’ hyper-curated group meetings where a trained executive coach will guide founders through various topics under a ‘strict privacy pledge’.
Each monthly session will last 2-3 hours and every member will be placed in a group alongside 6-7 other members. The platform will only cater to startup founders who have made it big.
Somani told Inc42 that “only the founders who have raised $5 Mn in capital or helmed companies that have similar revenues or have garnered $10 Mn in the previous exit will be allowed to join the platform”. Apart from this, the platform has also set a baseline threshold of $50 Mn in revenues for companies whose CEOs want to join Offline.
The annual membership of the platform will cost the applicants to the tune of INR 5 Lakh.
“While we do want to be selective, we want to build a place where people are engaged. We don’t want people to pay our membership fees and ghost the pod meetings. There’s a strict 80% attendance mandatory clause in the membership agreement. So, it will be a very curated experience, and we only want highly engaged members in this place,” Somani said.
Curiously, the idea for the startup germinated in Somani’s mind while he was transitioning out of AngelList India. After attending a few YPO (Young Presidents’ Organisation) and EO (Entrepreneurs’ Organisation) meetings, the communities for second or third-generation entrepreneurs, Somani realised that many attendees actively discussed their pet peeves with fellow participants.
It was this experience that got Somani ‘excited’ and he questioned himself — Why isn’t there a similar platform for Indian tech founders who find themselves stuck after reaching a certain point?
In April 2023, he sat down to iron out the idea, and finally, after five months, he is all set to unveil Offline today in Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru.
Meanwhile, Somani is eyeing a ‘few hundred’ founders to jump on its bandwagon soon. Going forward, he also wants to expand the platform to big-ticket entrepreneurs in Singapore and Dubai.
When Size Doesn’t Matter
So far, Offline has four full-time employees on its rolls, along with six part-time trained facilitators who act as consultants. It is this frugal approach that will help Offline become profitable in the first year itself, as per Somani.
Besides, the company also expects to earn revenues from brand sponsorships and other streams. Without disclosing any further details, Somani adds that the company could also dabble in the financial space as the platform scales up.
For the next couple of years, the startup will focus on ‘delivering a solid experience to its members and building an engaged community’ on its platform.
On challenges faced while building the platform, Somani said that formulating the facilitation playbook for founders and building a good team were the key pieces of the puzzle.
When we asked Somani about his plans to take on competition, he responded with a chuckle and stated that there are no wars to be won in this space right now.