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9Unicorns Raises INR 100 Cr; Haldiram's Participates The fund plans to write the first external cheque in over 100 early-stage startups in deeptech, B2B SaaS, media, FMCG, fintech, insuretech, healthtech, edutech, travel, and logistics, among other sectors

By Prabhjeet Bhatla

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Mumbai-based accelerator fund of Venture Catalysts, 9Unicorns, has announced on Monday the second close of its fund at INR 200 crore during the pandemic on the back of growing interest among domestic and global investors to invest in early-stage Indian startups.

The platform has successfully managed its second close within six months of the first close at INR 100 crore in August last year.

The second close witnessed participation from some global and Indian industrialists and businesses, including Noida-headquartered sweets and snacks manufacturer Haldiram's that has overtaken several multinational companies including Hindustan Unilever and Nestle in the packaged food segment.

"Our investment in 9Unicorns weaves well with our ideology of active contribution to the coming of age startup universe in India. With this collaboration we look forward to partnering actively with the 9Unicorns team to bring to bear our experiences and mentoring the innovative digitally run 9unicorns investees," shared Kamal Agrawal, executive director, Haldiram's, while talking about its investment in 9Unicorns.

Touted as India's Y Combinator, the accelerator has also raised its total corpus to INR 500 crore by exercising a green-shoe option amidst a challenging economic environment. It allows any venture capital or private equity fund to raise money over its initial target corpus following massive interest received from the limited partners (LPs)/investors.

"Last year was indeed a great year for the startup ecosystem that witnessed the creation of 11 unicorns. As a fund, we aim to back early-stage companies that have the potential to become billion-dollar companies in the future. I anticipate the number of unicorns in India will grow fourfold, from 44 today in the next few years that provide several investors with an opportunity to be a supporting agent and ensure multiple X returns from this emerging asset class," stated Dr. Apoorva Ranjan Sharma, president, and co-founder, Venture Catalysts, on the second close.

The firm is looking to raise the entire amount of INR 500 crore over the next few months from multiple sources, including corporations, family offices, and institutions globally. The fund plans to write the first external cheque in over 100 early-stage startups in deeptech, B2B SaaS, media, FMCG, fintech, insuretech, healthtech, edutech, travel, and logistics, among other sectors.

"We made our second close of another INR 100 crore just within six months of the first close, a feat difficult to achieve, that too during the pandemic. We will be closing the rest of the fund soon to boost further the entrepreneur network in India, especially those in the non-metros," Sharma further added.

Last year, it invested in over 32 startups, including Toch, Janani, and Qin1 which have already advanced to raise bigger rounds.

Besides, the accelerator fund has also launched a programme to disrupt the traditional venture capital (VC) structure. Termed "Catalysts Program', the initiative is designed to build an open community of founders, CXOs, and the ecosystem drivers to recognize, fund, and mentor early-stage startups. The program will function along with the 9Unicorns Fund and aims to build a network of over 1000 catalysts across the globe.

As an accelerator fund, 9Unicorns invests around $100,000 for 5-7 per cent equity per startup at the idea stage.

As of December 2020, it has syndicated over INR 240 crore with co-investors such as Sequoia Surge, Titan Capital, SOSV, Lightspeed, Matrix Partners, and Nexus Ventures, among others.

9Unicorns is backed by several global VCs and LPs from across ten countries, family offices of large organizations such as The OPG Group, The MBG Group, Parakh Foods, Qualcon International, UB Cotton, along-with top executives from SAP, Linkedin, Quest Global, AB InDev, Fujitsu besides several unicorn and decacorn founders.

Prabhjeet Bhatla

Former Staff

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