A believer in Sticking By The Founders

Dr. Ritesh Malik has invested in more than 80-plus companies

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When it comes to investment, size does not matter for this investor. “The amount of capital I used to invest in 2014 / 15 was menial due to lack of funds, but I made it a point to be on cap tables of founders whom I liked and who were working on challenges which I believed in. I call the concept burnt capital. I always tell people who invest into startups that if the money comes back it's good, if it doesn't, no harm. This is my learning capital. My first investment was in a hardware entrepreneur from Kerala 'Rohildev', he built a startup called Fin Robotics, I had invested some INR 18 lakh at a valuation of INR 1 crore and held 18 per cent equity in the company. Unfortunately things didn't go well and they had to shut down Fin.The founder has again started up with something called Nimo Planet, VR headset hardware startup and I am a part of it. The idea is that we back founders wholly and build long term relationships which are beyond investment,” said Dr. Ritesh Malik, founder at Innov8, founder and trustee at Plaksha University. 

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“I started angel investing at a very early stage in my life. Honestly, when I started I had no intent of ever making money from my investments in startups.Being backed by founders who have been there and done on your side is amazing! Innov8 is a testament to this. Our first round was led by some brilliant founders like Vijay Shekhar Sharma of PayTM, Vishal Gondal of GOQii, Bryan Frist of Yoshi and some 50-plus more entrepreneurs,” said Malik, talking about his investment journey.

Being Sector agnostic, TAM, equation with the founder, the product and the genesis of the idea form the basis of the investor’s investment thesis. “I have done around some 80-plus investments.” 

Giving an insight into his investment outlook for 2022, he said, “In 2022, I have decided to invest more funds. I will be spending more time learning, reading and executing my own startup than investing. I am very very clear with one thing — I want to back founders and making money is a by-product.I would increase the number of investments in the early stage model maybe one every 10 days ~ 40 startups a year, average capital at $50,000. Let’s see what the future holds for us.”

Having true believers on your side, with whom you can share your deep insecurities, life goals and personal ambitions is super important, says the investor about his style of helping other startups  grow. “When I enter into a company, I ensure I am involved as a sounding board just to help founders navigate through critical steps rather than being hands on. I don’t care for updates, I usually don’t reach out to founders after investing, we tend to do founder events annually and meet in person whenever possible. I feel as such founders are so hard pressed on so many issues, managing angels should be one less of a headache.” 

Some of my portfolio include Josh Talks, Asimov Robotics, Pepper Content, PeeSafe, Leverage Edu, Khabri, Inito, Infeedo, Agnikul, Wifi Dabba, Uppekka, Trulymadly, Sheroes, Sarva Yoga, Pumpumpum, Paz, Edurev, Evabot, Bima Inc. etc. Most of these investments are seed stage, and my average entry valuation would be around  $1 million.  

Some of the noteworthy startups are Safe Securities (John Chambers), Sarva Yoga, Sheroes, Sattviko, Josh Talks, PeeSafe, Dukaan.IO, SectorQube, Inc42, Greenberry Organics, QDesk (JLL), Leverage Edu (Blume/Tomorrow Capital), CivilCops, Pesto (Matrix), OrangeWood (YC), Inito (YC), Pumpkart, StylDotMe, TapChief (Unacademy), Asimov Robotics, Addodoc (Sheroes), Ketto, Nimo, Stage, Mashinga, Wigzo, Uppekka, Pepper (Lightspeed), Wifidabba (YC), Khabri (YC), Agnikul Satellites, Infeedo (YC), TSB, Trulymadly, Thinkpot, Kawa Space, Bima Inc (YC), Sublist are some of the startups as a part of his investment portfolio. 

Factsheet:

  •   Portfolio size - 80 

  •  Average ticket size/sweet spot - INR 10-37.5 lakh for seed stage, INR 3 - 5 crore for post series A and INR 5- 10 crore for post Series C / pre-IPO

  • Total no. of exits - As this is my own capital, I tend to stick with the startup as long as the founder likes me to, I'm not at all looking for liquidity from my portfolio any time soon. Though there have been a lot of opportunities to exit, I only do when there is a significant M&A event. I think I have taken an exit from 8-plus startups