Keeping Up With The Wave Of Investment
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As an entrepreneur and established businesswoman, Shanti Mohan offers her up-close brush with her journey as an angel investor. She is at present the co-founder and chief executive officer of LetsVenture, a Bengaluru-based technology platform that aims to bring together investors and entrepreneurs.
She started her entrepreneurial journey by founding Bengaluru-based embedded systems company Ionic Microsystems. After having raised angel and Series A, she had an exit, post which she joined Hewlett Packard (HP) for driving product management roles in India and the US for a couple of years.
Mohan, while talking to Entrepreneur India, drew parallel to her return to India, after that she started understanding the crowdfunding phenomenon that was becoming globally more accepted.
“While the intent was to build a CF platform for nonprofits, the idea pivoted to building an online marketplace for the startup ecosystem,” she said.
With this, Mohan established her second startup LetsVenture in 2013, together with Sanjay Jha, co-founder, and chief technology officer, with the simplistic vision of making the process of discovery and connect easy and transparent for both founders and investors.
The ‘aha’ moment took place for the entrepreneur while she interacted with her industry peers, she realized that founders were struggling to connect with investors, or even raising a small cheque was a very tedious process.
Mohan further shed spotlight on her success stories and stated, “LetsVenture being a technology-first company, we realized that as a platform or marketplace, our investor side was gaining traction and to better service these ‘customers’ we needed to build out mini-products for them. We launched Lead Syndicates in2016 for lead angels to build out their portfolios with more structure and backing that helped founders streamline their cap table while raising funds from a large number of angel investors.”
With the evolving ecosystem, come challenges.
“My team and I realized that family offices were also facing a lack of transparency, information asymmetry, and no proper due diligence that provided guidelines to invest. Hence, we launched LetsVenture Plus, a platform that lets HNIs and UHNIs invest in early-stage and growth-stage startups as well as take positions in equity and debt funds in the private market. It is projected that India will reach 100 unicorns by 2025,” she added.
Over the past seven years, she noticed the managing equity in a startup is an arduous task for all stakeholders of data inconsistency, low audit trails, increased cost and time, and complexity due to legal compliance and accounting requirements. Hence she launched My Startup Equity.
Mohan recalled that LetsVenture was proud to have marquee investors such as Anupam Mittal, RajanAnandan, Ratan Tata, Mohandas Pai, Nandan Nilekani, and Sharad Sharma in the initial days of its establishment.
The angel fundraising platform is also backed by Accel andChiratae Ventures.
When asked about the impact of her establishment on the customers served, Mohan promptly told that the seven-year-old startup has a portfolio worth $2 billion. In which, startups have raised $201 million across 332 rounds.
“The company has seen two-times growth in 2020 when it comes to early-stage investments even despite the effect of COVID-19. We did 105 deals in 2020 as compared to 55 deals in 2019. We have seen many marquee startups like Trell, Agnikul, Classplus, Yulu, Khatabook, Airmeet, Sugar Cosmetics, etc on the platform and subsequently raising money from Elevation, Sequoia, Accel, Nexus, Fireside ventures, and others for their next round,” she commented.
She considered 2020 as a challenging year for the entire startup community. While they witnessed a dip when it came to funding, she has said to have realized that India’s investor sentiment was still strong, which helped the whole funding scenario bounce back strongly after a brief pause.
The second-time founder further shared, “My team and I, continued developing new partnerships, such as with N+1 Capital, to provide debt funding based on the revenue generated by the company. In addition to this, we also guided our portfolio companies at every level, ensuring that companies sail through the difficult times seamlessly.”
Going forward, Mohan maintains that they will also evolve with the evolving ecosystem.
“My team and I are looking forward to launching our very own LetsVenture Woman’s Angel Network, which is the first of its kind, being launched in the country today. With this, we aim to bring women investors on board who could look at investing and adding value to the journey of early-stage startups as angels,” she concluded.