In this blog post, Rohit Sharma, pursuing M.A. in business law from NUJS, Kolkata, analyses the role of angel investors and lists the ten most popular angel investors in India.
A startup company or Startup is a company in its nascent stage that is just starting to develop. Startups are generally small and originally financed and operated by a small group of founders or just one individual. Startups aim at creating their market by offering products or services that are not currently being offered elsewhere in the market or that it is being offered but of an inferior quality. At the time of induction of a Startup, the expenses tend to exceed revenues as a large chunk of capital is locked down in developing, testing and marketing of the novel idea. At this stage the Startups are in dire need of funding, they try a combination of sources like – business loans from banks or credit unions, or by grants from nonprofit organizations and state governments. The angel investment market has dramatically improved and developed significantly in a number of countries worldwide, particularly over the past 5-10 years. Most innovative tech startups which were born in the past decade have spread their roots and have grown into to large profit making businesses. In countries like India, the government has played an instrumental role in making policies to encourage a greater number of angel investors, in order to encourage their investment. These efforts include supply-side measures such as tax incentives and the creation of co-investment funds.
One common destination of profitable and innovative business ideas are Universities as they hold high potential for start-ups. However, inexperienced students often lack business sense as the innovators focus more on research rather than commercially success and hence more often than not are unable to succeed in securing angel or venture capital which lead to eventual death of the venture even before it takes off. This is also a glaring example that explains the potential disconnect between innovation policies, which tend to focus on R&D rather than commercialization, and entrepreneurship policies which focus on the translation of innovation into firms.
All Startups go through following stages-
- Pre-Startup: This phase is characterised by the discovery of a potentially scalable idea, substantial enough target market.
- Startup: This phase is characterised defining the business model and expanding the customer base in a sustainable model.
- Growth: This phase is characterised by maximising benefits and reducing the impediments to the business.
As per the standard textbook definition, an angel investor is the first source of external funding when funding from the founder, friends, and family get depleted. An angel can also be defined as “a person who provides capital, in the form of debt or equity, from his personal funds to a private business owned and operated by someone else who is neither a friend nor a family member.” Angel investors can be categorically differentiated from informal lenders like friends and family who have no prior entrepreneurial experience hence differ majorly in their investment approach.
Though the profile of angel investors may be diverse, they are generally high net worth individuals who invest in entrepreneurial ventures as part of an overall portfolio.
Angel investors are generally motivated to invest in new ventures, in addition to making money, either to get involved with private companies or to promote a hobby job or to help the community. In recent past Startups have had tough time procuring funding from angel investors because of their strong preference for anonymity, this on many occasions has been the reason for early mortality of large numbers of startups.
Angel investing is a relatively new trend in India, where a class of investors who are not part of traditional wealthy families but first generation entrepreneurs are investing their self-acquired wealth in Startups.Following is a list of top ten Angel Investors in India.
Importance of Angel Investors
Angel investors are also a preferred source of equity over Venture Capital (VC) as they support a wider range of innovations in caparison of VC. Moreover, angel investors do not shy away from investing in a broad range of sectors and do not overlook local startups too. This way angel investors have a broader investment coverage both regarding not only industry but also geography. Even though angel investing is taken up by experienced business owners and entrepreneurs, it differs greatly from being a financial investor or building a company in a particular sector. It requires a combination of both skill sets as well as specific technical skills regarding conducting due diligence and determining company valuations.
A congenial entrepreneurial ecosystem is instrumental for successful angel investing to flourish. Startups do not operate in a vacuum. It can only breathe in a healthy entrepreneurial ecosystem in which many stakeholders play a critical role, including entrepreneurs, investors, large companies, universities, governments, services providers, etc. Governments can help by making sure the appropriate legal and financial framework conditions are in place, and policies are encouraging for new businesses to start up and operate profitably.
Rajan Anandan has been an active angel investor in India, Sri Lanka, and the US. He has invested in many Indian start-ups including Capillary, Druva, Webengage, Wiziq, etechies.in, Authorstream, Justeat. Innovizetech, Aurality, Peelworks, and Buytheprice. By profession, he is the Managing Director of Google India.
Rajan was the Managing Director of Microsoft India, before Google. His leadership and guidance helped Microsoft become the highest performing subsidiary for Microsoft. Prior to working in Microsoft, he was Vice President of Dell Inc.
His passion for technology coupled with his vast experience in spearheading major technology businesses has helped him leverage his expertise to help start-ups build large, exciting businesses. He tends to invest in early stage technology companies and has invested in the internet, mobile and software startups and e-commerce startups in India. Not only this he, is also the Co-founder and Chairman Blue Ocean Ventures, the first Venture Fund and has funded close to 45 startups.
As an investor, he tends to be involved with his portfolio firms and typically helps in making strategic decisions and identifying new business markets. Anandan also opens the doors to potential clients and advisors.
Major investments include Phantom Hands, Capillary Technologies, Sourceeasy, 24/7 Techies, TargetingMantra, Instamojo, CultureAlley, Mobilewalla, Druva, Sapience, Frrole, MyShaadi.in, Jigsee (acquired by Vuclip), Goonj, TaxSpanner.com, eTechies, Exclusively.in (acquired by Myntra), Digilogues, Videa Capital (acquired by Allegro), Hungry Zone (acquired by JustEat), Peel-Works, Kwench, Athorstream (acquired by WizIQ), skoolshop.com, WizIQ.com, authorGEN (acquired by Educomp), BuyThePrice (acquired by Tradus).
Anupam Gopal Mittal
Anupam Mittal is popularly known for bringing a revolution in arranged marriage market through his offering shaadi.com. He has a portfolio of over 50 startups. He is known for backing ideas that have a significant market potential and backs of from those that do not indicate sustainability and scalability. He also has an inclination in investment for clean technology, consumer internet, and mobile, healthcare. He is a preferred angel investor because he is known for not interfering in the work of founders.
He is also the founder and CEO of People Group, which includes the matchmaking portal Shaadi, property search website Makaan.com and mobile media company Mauj Mobile.
For his work, he was honored by Business Week as one of India’s 50 Most Powerful People. He has funded successful startups like Makaan.com, Mauj Mobile, Ola Cabs, Fab Hotels, LetsVenture, Truebil, Ketto and Prop Tiger.
Sanjay Mehta is a very active angel investor who has been a serial entrepreneur turned angel investor. He is known for his investments in diverse sectors from educations, health, media, online, medical, travel, FnB, retails. He is from a technology background and hence enjoys working with mobile start-ups, analytics, social & cloud. Having such a diverse background and knowledge has helped him leverage his experience in understanding various nuances of starting and running a startup. He is extremely passionate about encouraging new entrepreneurs and meeting. He has presently invested in 23 companies as an angel investor.
He is known for showing interest in early-stage ventures that specializes in big data, marketing automation, productivity enhancement, location services, quick services restaurants and medical devices and has so far refrained from investing in e-commerce platforms. His portfolio has startups like OYO Rooms, PrettySecrets, Klip.in, Talview, Unbxd, OrangeScape, Consure Medical, FabAlley, EcoSense Sustainable Solutions, Poncho.in.
Co-founder Tracxn, Abhishek Goyal is popularly known as the startup tracker. He has done his BTechfrom Indian Institute of Technology-Kanpur. His multi-faceted talents include him being is a man of many parts—techie, entrepreneur, venture capitalist and start-up tracker.
He set up Tracxn Technologies Pvt. Ltd with co-founder Neha Singh as a data analytics firm to track start-ups around the world. This start-up data analytics provider has recently launched an Internet platform aimed at helping early investors in mature start-ups sell their shares by connecting them to venture capital (VC) firms and other institutional investors.
His startup is presently being used by over 100 venture funds, including Andreessen Horowitz, Google Capital, Sequoia Capital, even some companies such as Dropbox.
After holding prestigious senior management positions with leading technology companies with the most recent one being the CEO of Yahoo! India R&D where he was responsible for product engineering for all emerging markets and for several global products including image search, search monetization, and HotJobs. Sharad Sharma has ventured into the sphere of angel investing after co-founded Teltier, now part of Cisco. He is currently the CEO of BrandSigma Inc. He has more than 22 years of global experience in the Internet, enterprise software, and infrastructure markets and has a portfolio of startups like MyPoolin, Wishberry, LetsVenture, Ciafo, Frrole, Apartment Adda, i7 Networks which specialize in these sectors.
He started on this path in 2006, years before such transactions became fashionable.
His preferred sectors of investment are– Disruptive tech, cloud, digital, software infrastructure. While investing in startups, he prefers investing in his sectors of preference.
He is a hands-off investor and is available for advice, hand-hold and open doors.
His major investments till date have been Mobilewalla, HashCube, Druva Software, Kwench, Unbxd, Vayavya Labs, Aurus Network, Birds Eye Systems, i7 Networks, Peel-Works, TaxSpanner, Ezetap, Stayzilla, TechFetch.com, Silvan Innovation Labs, iKen Solutions.
Anand Ladsariya is the CEO and promoter director of Everest Flavours Ltd., a private company which manufactures and exports o Menthol, Peppermint Oil, flavors and fragrances.
He Graduated as a topper of his class and also won a gold medal from Bombay University and Post Graduate MBA from IIM, Ahmedabad. He is also involved in various social activities. Previously he was Chairman of CHEMEXCIL, an export promotion organization established by Ministry of Commerce, Govt. of India, for the promotion of exports.
Ladsariya at present has a portfolio of over 35 angel investments, including investment in startups like Framebench, FindURClass, ConfirmTKT.com and currently actively invests through Indian Angel Network and Mumbai Angels. His investments are generally tech-oriented. Ladsariya’s angel investment portfolio also includes businesses in the US, Singapore, and Germany. As an investor, he is accessible to promoters but also non-interfering.
Major investments are Exclusive.In, Aurality, DEXL, Speakwell, Framebench, TONBO, Mobiquest, Algorhythm, Trikal, Svasti Microfinance, Talent Bridge, GreenDust (earlier Reverse Logistics), Orio Hotels, Appsbaily.
Sunil Kalra started investing in 2002. He is an investor known for his adaptability to venture into new sectors with no or little prior experience. His initial investment w in the real estate sector, and currently, his portfolio has expanded into startups varying from education, healthcare, and e-commerce. His approach is agnostic andAirwoot, Orange Scape, Crayon, Culture Alley, Wooplr, and My Shaadi.in have all been funded by him.
He is known for his is choosy investment choices. Though he has fairly less background in tech startups, he is interested in venturing into them due to their sustainable growth model. Additionally, he is also a member of the Indian Angel Network, and a founding member of the University of Petroleum and Energy Studies in Dehradun, Uttarakhand.
Rajesh is the Founder of Super Angels of India.He has a vast experience in entertainment, media, and communication sector which also includes his last association with Reliance Entertainment Private Limited as president for seven years.
He has also built Indiatimes.com from a start-up venture. During his 14 years stint with BCCL, he created successful businesses across several new areas, including publishing, Radio, TV, retailing, internet, e-commerce, travel and mobile VAS. He is based in Mumbai.
TV Mohandas Pai
Mr.T.V. Mohandas Pai has brought his decades of operational and leadership experience in his startup investing ventures.Mr. Mohandas is the Chairman of Manipal Global Education, he is also an ardent supporter of the Akshaya Patra Foundation and is one of the members of the board of trustees of Akshaya Patra. In the past, he has served as a Member of the Board of Infosys from May 2000– July 2011. He has won several accolades in the form of ‘CFO of the Year’ in 2001 by IMA India, the ‘Best CFO in India’ award from Finance Asia in 2002, and ‘Best chief financial officer in India’ in the Best Managed Companies poll conducted by AsiaMoney in 2004. From 2012 when he started investing, he has funded startups likeSAHA fund, Zoomcar, Zimmber, Uniken, YourStory, Kaaryah and FairCent. Currently, Mr.Pai is focusing on developing a funding ecosystem, which consists of more than ten funds to fulfil capital requirements for an entrepreneur.
RehanYar Khan is an Indian venture capitalist and founder and operator of Orios Venture Partners., a Mumbai-based venture fund for technology startups. Orios is the largest domestically raised venture capital fund in India. Khan has been recognized as one of India’s leading early-stage technology investors.
Before moving into venture capital investing, Khan was an active entrepreneur, heading the development of three companies: Fresh Floritech, VSG Services, and Flora2000. He has been the angel investor for Druvawhich provides data protection for computer networks.Since then hKhan has led 19 startup investments including leading investments in OlaCabsJigsee (acquired by VuClip), Sapience, Ziffi, PrettySecrets, Zapstitch and other companies. Not only this, in order to encourage angel investing he became part of Indian Angel Network’s Mumbai Chapter.
What Angel Investors Seek while Investing
When an angel investor especially one with a profile like the angel investors mentioned in the above list look for new ventures to invest his funds his chief concern is – Can he afford to lose the money if the startup sinks? This is the first thing that a Startup seeking funds needs to affirm the investor, that their reputation won’t be in jeopardy if the startup fails to work. In return, the startups have to be mindful of the time the investor can devote to offer advice, and how much time he/she can fruitfully commit. In addition to this, the question also arises about the quantum of capital the investor is willing to invest and in return of what consideration. For startups, it is necessary that the investor that the investor is supportive of their venture and is willing to offer time and advice. Getting funding from angel investors isn’t easy, but it can be done if the startups take the right approach and are a good match with their interests. And the benefits can go beyond the money for your business, but their expertise in both in business operations and your industry niche.
Angel investors collectively invest millions of rupees in startup and entrepreneurial ventures yearly, they are usually the first outsiders to supply startups the much-needed equity to kick start the startup business. Angel investing goes beyond the desire to make money for investors, it has more to do with the passion to uplift budding entrepreneurs and pursuing one’s own passion by being an angel to the venture one wants to help succeed. Angel investing has a lot to do with the grit and the knack for taking a risk and less about being a mere money lender to business. Angel investors have been sparse in number and hard to find as they prefer to keep themselves discrete. Financial institutions have always been hesitant about lending startups, small, young firms due to the perceived riskiness of future prospects and lack of guarantee in the form of collateral. This scenario has considerably altered due to a surge in angel investing by young entrepreneurs who have acquired considerable equity and now want to venture in new, contemporary ideas.
The lack of an entrepreneurial culture in many economies has been witnessed as a critical barrier to entrepreneurship. Without entrepreneurs, there will not be any start-ups. Changing culture is difficult and requires a long-term effort, but the scenario is slowly changing for the benefit of startups as more risk-bearing angel investors are showing an inclination towards contemporary business ideas which do bear a high risk of failure with them. Passion has always been the mean driving force for angel investors over time. Emerging and growing economy like that in India is an ideal environment for startups and angel investors to flourish due to the huge consumer base. Startups play an important role in promoting local business and talent; it has recently become an importance and in-severable limb of the entrepreneurial ecosystem.
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