Published: 01st June 2020
Venture Catalysts is helping start-ups restore faith in entrepreneurship. Here's how
Anuj Golech, co-founder of Venture Catalysts speaks about their investment in start-ups during these difficult times and how start-ups can play an important role in the next five years
After the COVID-19 outbreak hit the world, many businesses and start-ups are either on the brink of shutting down or have already gone belly up. However, Venture Catalysts, one of the top incubators for start-ups, recently invested in seven start-ups located across India. This has restored some faith in many entrepreneurs. We speak with Anuj Golecha, Co-founder of Venture Catalysts, who has bigger plans up his sleeve to push India to become a multi-trillion dollar economy in the next five to seven years. Excerpts from an interview:
1. Can you tell us about Venture Catalysts?
Venture Catalysts was co-founded in Mumbai in 2016 with an idea to expand entrepreneurship in Tier II and III cities. Until then, the network of entrepreneurs and investors was limited to metro cities like Bengaluru, Delhi and Mumbai. Coming from the background of business and having an experience of 15 years into the start-up ecosystem, my co-founders and I wanted to democratise entrepreneurship in those cities where opportunities are fewer. Currently, we are present in 22 cities including Coimbatore, Lucknow, Ahmedabad, Raipur, Kochi, Cuttack, Kolkata, Surat and many others. Till now, we have invested in more than 93 start-ups which are at different levels of development.
2. What is the process that you follow when you shortlist start-ups?
On average and during the lockdown, at least 650 start-ups have applied to seek investments. Every month, we invest in four start-ups. Our in-house team goes through the different ideas proposed by entrepreneurs, evaluates them and invests accordingly. In the current situation, we are following the online path for evaluation. We have started hosting six different people for presentation, diversifying it region wise. Apart from this, we keep it open for other investors to come forward and help these entrepreneurs. Post investment, we ensure to support these companies for 15 months.
Anuj Golecha, Co-founder, Venture Catalysts
3. How is Venture Catalysts different from other incubators or investors?
We are national-level players in terms of incubation. By the end of June 2020, our presence in India would have extended to 40 cities. We are building an investors network across these regions to give them maximum support at the idea stage and right valuation. We also have a company called Incubate Hub located in Bengaluru which is helping our portfolio companies generate funds from corporates. They are working with over 75 companies. Any incubator and investor must be able to provide continuous financial support to the start-up and active support to the portfolio companies in terms of business growth. It also showcases the mortality ratio of the start-ups. There is less than one per cent mortality across the 93-odd companies we have invested in in the last four and a half years.
4. You have invested in seven more start-ups recently. Was it to restore faith among entrepreneurs in the current times?
Last year, we invested in 63 start-ups and in the past four months, we have invested in 16 different start-ups. As far as seed-stage investment is concerned, the interest level of investors remains intact. The number of investors, even during COVID-19, has increased considerably. It is the best time to implement your ideas practically during this period of recession. We will soon be closing another three start-ups based out of Bengaluru which are into different sectors - Gaming, Deep Technology, Fintech and Personal Finance.
5. What are your future plans?
We intend to be a 10,000-active-investors community by 2024. Therefore, we are expanding in different regions and markets. If we are able to achieve this target, we believe that by 2024, we must be able to invest in eight to ten start-ups per month instead of just four start-ups that we are investing in now. A nine unicorn, which is a separate fund system at Venture Catalysts, will be used to accelerate and invest in 300 start-ups. And I believe that if India wants to become a multi-trillion dollar economy, then start-ups are going to play an important role in the next five to seven years. They will generate business and create employment for thousands of youngsters.