Spacetech Startup Agnikul Raises $11 Mn In Series A Round Led By Mayfield India
The startup plans to utilize this capital for proceeding towards launch on all fronts including ground testing, building robust technology, fabrication, team expansion and making progress on all fronts towards launch
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
You're reading Entrepreneur India, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.
Chennai-based spacetech startup Agnikul on Thursday announced raising $11 million in a Series A funding round led by Mayfield India, making it the largest funding round for a private Indian space technology company in India. Existing investors pi Ventures, Speciale Invest, and Artha Venture Fund also invested in this round. The round also saw participation from BEENEXT, Globevestor, LionRock Capital, and prominent angel investors - Anand Mahindra, Naval Ravikant, Balaji Srinivasan, Nithin Kamath, Abhishek Singhania, Aarthi Ramamurthy, and Sriram Krishnan, Anicut Angel Fund, LetsVenture among others.
As a part of the round, Mayfield India's managing partner Vikram Godse will be joining the board of the company.
"In these difficult times for humanity as a whole, we are thankful to be able to find excitement, as our investors continue to reaffirm their confidence in our strategy of democratizing small satellite launches. We are thankful to have ISRO's guidance and happy that the Government is enabling private space tech ventures. With this support from the Government and investors, we look forward to an exciting next step for our company and in the process, simplifying access to space," said Srinath Ravichandran, co-founder, and chief executive officer, Agnikul.
The funds will be deployed to strengthen and build robust technology infrastructure, expand ground testing and build a world-class team to help Agnikul become India's first private player to launch satellites in space.
"In the next two years, we want to perfect getting to orbit. This is a large effort by itself and we are keeping our focus on just this for now. We are proud to be building from India and we will continue to strategize on efficient realization techniques such as 3d printing to build world-class space technology in India," shared Moin SPM, co-founder and chief operating officer, Agnikul.
Founded in 2017 by Srinath Ravichandran, Moin SPM, and IIT Madras Prof. SR Chakravarthy, Agnikul is building India's first private small satellite launch vehicle - Agnibaan, a rocket that enables plug-and-play configuration and is capable of carrying up to 100 kilograms of payload to low Earth orbits. This on-demand rocket can be fully customized to the customer's needs at an affordable cost. Agnikul's diverse team of rocket scientists, engineers, and investors is working on the vision of making space accessible and affordable. The IIT Madras incubated startup is looking to complete its first mission sometime next year.
"Agnikul is democratizing access to space for the small satellite market, which is largely underserved globally. For these customers, this is a game-changer as they now have zero wait time and can control their own mission, all at an affordable cost. The team's customer-centric approach combined with their ability to constantly innovate will help them stay ahead of the competition and build a global success story. We are excited to back Srinath and Moin on their journey to space," commented Vikram Godse, managing partner, Mayfield India.
Earlier this year, Agnikul successfully test-fired the world's first 3D printed rocket engine - Agnilet. This higher stage semi-cryogenic rocket engine is unique because it is completely 3D printed in one run as a single component. Agnikul is the only company in the world that has designed a semi-cryo rocket that can be built fully using 3D printing technology, the company shared.
"Agnikul is one of the unique companies to come out of India. Their mission of democratizing access to space on the back of fundamentally disruptive technology is awe-inspiring. We at pi are fortunate to be associated with them. It aligns with our vision of backing disruptive companies solving global problems via tech innovations very well. With this round, they are well on their way to achieving their mission. All the very best to them," remarked Manish Singhal, founding partner, pi Ventures.
In December 2020, Agnikul became the first space start-up to sign an agreement with the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) under the newly announced IN-SPACe initiative to have access to the space agency's expertise and its facilities to build Agnibaan.
"We invest in companies that are redefining the future of deep tech and spacetech, and are excited to continue on this journey with Agnikul by participating in this funding round. This funding is a strong validation for the opportunity in global private space and the potential to build deep-tech companies from India for the world. With this investment, Speciale will continue to fuel Agnikul's efforts to further push India's self-reliance in this space," noted Vishesh Rajaram, managing partner, Speciale Invest.
"We are excited to continually back Srinath, Moin, and the team at Agnikul. Their team is leveraging innovation and technology to serve a growing global market. They are also developing cost-effective solutions that open space technology to emerging markets. We believe the future of space is one in which all countries and markets will be able to participate, thus providing solutions that improve lives significantly; and Agnikul will be one of the pioneers in this endeavor. This funding round supports our belief in the potential of Agnikul and its team, and we wish them continued success," added Vinod Keni, growth partner, Artha Venture Fund.
In the past, Agnikul had raised $3.1 million in a pre-Series A funding from institutional investors - pi Ventures, Hari Kumar (LionRock Capital), Artha Venture Fund, LetsVenture, Globevestor, CIIE, and Speciale Invest in March 2020 and the seed round of funding from Speciale Invest in 2019.