Startup incubator Venture Catalysts, on Monday (September 1), announced the first close of its accelerator fund 9Unicorns at INR 100 Cr ($14 Mn). Built along the lines of Silicon Valley’s startup accelerator Y Combinator, 9Unicorns will invest in over 100 early-stage startups with the goal of writing the first external cheque for these nascent companies. The fund is targeting a total corpus of INR 300 Cr. 9Unicorns was launched by Venture Catalysts in August last year.
In the past, Venture Catalysts has backed startups such as BharatPe, Beardo, PeeSafe and Fynd. The first close of its accelerator fund saw participation from various businessmen, while in the long run, the fund is looking to raise the rest of the target corpus amount from various sources such as corporations, family offices and institutions.
Apoorva Ranjan Sharma, one of the founding members at Venture Catalysts, who was also an angel investor in SoftBank-backed OYO Rooms said, “There’s no better time to bet on Indian entrepreneurs than today. We are witnessing a surge in startups who are focused on solving Indian and global problems born out of various parts of India. I anticipate the number of unicorns in India will grow 4x, from 36 today to over 140 in the near future.”
9Unicorns intends to offer $100,000 for 5-7% equity per startup, along with a three-month mentorship program. Startups shortlisted for the following round would be eligible for an additional investment of $500,000 to $2 Mn from a clutch of VC funds and others in the Venture Catalysts network. The fund claims to provide startups access to a wide network of successful category leading founders, CXOs of large corporations, seasoned angel investors and partners of global VC funds. Every portfolio company receives acceleration support for 3 months and post-investment support of 18 months.
Besides 9Unicorn, several global VC firms have also been looking to invest in seed, early and growth stage Indian startups. These include Sequoia Capital, Accel and Lightspeed India, among several others. Moreover, Indian startup founders have also forayed into venture capital investments in recent times. These include Snapdeal founders Kunal Bahl and Rohit Bansal, who set up an investment vehicle called Titan Capital last year. In July, OYO founder and CEO Ritesh Agarwal set up an investment firm in Singapore called Aroa Ventures to invest in early stage startups working across consumer, technology and leisure infrastructure sectors.