May 14, 2021
Lessons Haber a RaaS start up, learnt through fund raising:
Co-founder and CEO at Haber
VP Accel Ventures
Though Vipin Raghavan started Haber a Robotics-As-A-Service (RaaS) in 2015 with his own funds he soon needed money to scale up. “we started with a team of five engineers (software, mechanical and electronic) to design eLIXA – the robot. Our services were aiming at various processes in the paper, dairy and mining industry so we needed to expand and have a multidisciplinary team.”
Which they did with a seed round with an Asian VC. But growth cannot be fuelled without money. “We had about 25 customers but needed further investments in a sales team and to scale up. We targeted $4 Mil for our Series A but ended up with $ 6 Mil from Accel Ventures”. Quite a happy place to be in and as Raghavan now readies himself for a Series B round ($ 20 Mil) he shares what he learnt along the way with seed and Series A fundraising.
“What we learnt was that you need to expand your network. We went to events, met other entrepreneurs, VCs and generally got to know people in the business. I must’ve met more than 20 investors for our Series A round. Out of that only four returned with offers. We went with Accel ventures since they had a presence in the US and we want to expand there.
But for the Series B round Raghavan is wiser. Here are his tips:
- Study your investor’s ‘investment thesis’. What are the areas they are looking to invest in? Your business should align with that.
- Build a funnel through this study. Categorize them into Most likely, Moderate and least likely to invest in your business.
- Next when you make a presentation to them remember that the attention span is short. Even if you have a scheduled 45 mins to tell your story, remember it’s the first and the last 90 seconds that matter. You have to pull them in, in those first 90 secs. Be crisp, be to the point. Don’t tell a complicated story.
- You need to figure out how to get them to invest more time on you. You can ask them to talk to your customers regarding your service, or employees which will ratify your numbers as well as get them to gain better insights into your business. The more time they spend on your business, the more they will get impressed.
The View From the Investor’s Side:
Pratik Agarwal, VP Accel Ventures invested in the Series A round shares his perspective. “We see about 500 presentations a year and invest in about three. And payback. But it is these five that make up for the other 50 investments”
With such high stakes, it’s imperative that investors be very picky. According to Agarwal, “the most important thing is the timing of your business. If what you have made has been done 10 years ago by someone else then it’s redundant isn’t it? Or it may be that there may be a sudden change in market conditions that demand it makes it relevant. So why now is a very important question.” The other thing founders must get right is what is the pain point you are solving now and what are your insights into this?
Then comes the proof of your solution. Assuming you are solving a problem then your customer base should be growing. There should be repeat customers. This will convince us that there is a market for your product or service.
The team is also equally important. Why should your company be the right person to solve a problem? Do the founders have the key skill sets? The desire, ambition to build a large company? If we see the right mix then the candidate stands a chance to get funded.”
Bear these in mind when you ready yourself for funding.
NEWS: Start Up World This Week
Serum Institute buys stake in PolicyBazaar
Private-equity fund True North on Friday said it has sold part of its holding in insurtech startup PolicyBazaar to five independent buyers, including vaccine producer Serum Institute of India (SII). The four others are Ashoka India Equity Investment Trust Plc, Triumph Global Holdings Pte Limited, IIFL Special Opportunities Fund Series 8, and India Acorn Fund Ltd.
Last October, True North Fund conducted the first tranche of its stake sale in the company. Post this new transaction, True North will continue to be invested in PolicyBazaar. The fund did not give financial details of the stake sale or the total stake it will continue to hold. (source Hindustan Times)
Small is Big – Novel Microdevices to receive funding from CARB-X
CARB-X is awarding Novel Microdevices, Inc. of Baltimore, Maryland, USA, up to $3.6 million in non-dilutive funding, and, subject to available funding, up to an additional $10.2 million if certain project milestones are met, to develop a new rapid molecular test to diagnose sexually-transmitted bacterial infections, including Chlamydia trachomatis and Neisseria gonorrhoeae. Novel’s new device would diagnose infections in about 25 minutes from a vaginal swab or urine sample, and detect antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Novel’s rapid point-of-care diagnostic is designed for portability, weighing only four pounds. It is battery powered, making it particularly suited to low resource healthcare settings and low-and middle-income countries (LMICs
More Power to Women Entrepreneurs
The Mann Deshi Foundation that works towards making women entrepreneurs financially literate and provide them with business training, has partnered with GIZ in an initiative called Her&Now (Empowering Women Entrepreneurs), with multiple support programmes for women entrepreneurs. GIZ is a Germany headquartered development aid agency that is implementing the Her&Now project in India, on behalf of Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and in partnership with the Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship, Government of India.
Sharing further information, Chetna Sinha, Founder President of Mann Deshi Foundation, said, “We work for grassroots women at the local level, while the GIZ works at the international level. With the support of the Indian Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship, this is like a confluence of three rivers and I am sure that this ‘Triveni Sangam’ will create history in the field of women entrepreneurship in the country.”
Through this program, Mann Deshi will help 100 women entrepreneurs to grow their businesses. The women run varied businesses that range from food products manufacturing, providing services such as clothing store, blacksmith, cold-pressed oil, catering, ladies shop, leather belt making, bag making, poultry farm, phenyl-hand wash making, and so on. The women will be assisted in terms of identifying and retaining customers, preparing legal documents, increasing use of digital media, digital finance tools, manpower building, etc.”
WazirX launches an innovative NFT marketplace for Indian artists”
In a major breakthrough, WazirX has launched one of India’s first marketplace for Non-Fungible Tokens (NFT). The development has paved the way for seamless exchange of digital assets and intellectual properties including art pieces, audio files, videos, programs, and even tweets apart from other digital goods and services. Following the launch, Indian creators can now place their digital assets for auction over the blockchain-based NFT marketplace and earn royalty thereafter.
WazirX will not charge its customers for creating and listing NFTs on the platform. However, since NFT builds on blockchains that allow smart contracts, a gas fee is paid to the miners in respective currencies. This cost is against the computer power used to verify the transactions. WazirX is currently working towards nullifying this cost to make NFT minting cost-effective for artists and creators.
Recently, Twitter founder Jack Dorsey sold his first tweet for $2.9 million in an NFT-based transaction. The same holds for artists, distributors, and other stakeholders who wish to drive digital sales while keeping their copyrights intact.
WazirX ‘s NFT initiative is being spearheaded by Canada based entrepreneur, Sandesh B Suvarna with film actor/producer Vishakha Singh as an advisor. The two have a history of working on SAAS products in the celebrity fan engagement space.