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Rediff.com  » Business » Band of Angels to fund new start-ups

Band of Angels to fund new start-ups

July 27, 2005 02:27 IST
A bunch of professionals-turned-entrepreneurs have quietly joined hands to float the Band of Angels, a loose association that is looking to fund new ventures at the earliest stage, the stage when they are merely a good idea waiting to be operationalised and no one willing to put money into them.

The formation of this loose association is designed to provide the vital early stage funding – or, angel investment – which has been the missing link so far in the country's funding ecosystem.

The earliest structured investment at present is available from venture capitalists who put money only in ventures that have taken off to an extent and typically put in large sums of at least $5-10 million.

Thus, when an entrepreneur embarks upon his journey, he has to beg or borrow the initial capital – typically between Rs 50 lakh and Rs 1 crore – from family or friends.

The Band of Angels will hold a meeting every fortnight to screen proposals from aspiring entrepreneurs.

However, everyone of its members need not find the proposals worth investing in. Only those who do will write out the cheques, in their individual capacity.

What's more, their role doesn't end there. They have to use their experience to play friend, philosopher and guide to the budding entrepreneurs.

The Band has already attracted a slew of big names, many of them from IT, but some also from fields as diverse as law and medicine.

These include BPO evangelist Raman Roy, Xansa's and Indian Venture Capital Association's chairman Saurabh Srivastava, Digital Globalsoft's CEO Som Mittal, Mphsasis BFL's CEO Jerry Rao, Flextronics Software Systems' managing director Arun Kumar, Jobsahead's co-founder Alok Mittal, Naukri.com's co-founder Sanjiv Bhikchandani, Escorts Hospitals' head Naresh Trehan, Cyber Media's Pradeep Gupta, Lawyer Rajeev Luthra, India Abroad's founder Gopal Raju, and US-based entrepreneur Sanjay Bhargava.

"India now has a community that has set up companies and taken them public, or worked in crucial strategic positions as professionals, and now has time on its hands. We are trying to create a climate and structure of angel investments," Srivastava, the driving force behind the Band, told Business Standard.

The association will soon have 25-30 members, each of who will be required to make a contribution of Rs 50,000 to Rs 1 lakh towards the running of the Band's secretariat, to be managed by Infinity Venture Fund's principal, Rishi Sahai, and a firm commitment to invest in a venture, whichever appeals to them.

The Band's structure will be such that it will not need a registration with the Securities and Exchange Board of India the way venture capital funds do.

Srivastava is not expecting a high rate of success. Typically, only 20 per cent of the ventures funded by angel investors survive and only 10 per cent do well. However, the ones that do well yield enormous returns, often 30-50 times the investment.

Naturally, the applicants will be scrutinised carefully. To be picked, they must be operating in a large space providing scope for growth, differentiated, have a model not easy to copy, have a good team taking care of various aspects such as technology, sales and delivery, a good track and the right references.

But how will aspiring entrepreneurs find the Angels. "The smart ones will find us. Those who can't, wouldn't deserve to be funded," says Srivastava.

Suveen K Sinha in New Delhi
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