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Debt Funding to Propel the Ecosystem Founded in 2019, Stride Ventures, a venture debt firm has emerged as one of the largest and most active of its kind in India.

By Prince Kariappa

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Apoorva Sharma, Managing Partner at Stride.

Founded in 2019, Stride Ventures, a venture debt firm has emerged as one of the largest and most active of its kind in India.

Stride's Managing Partner, Apoorva Sharma's journey as an investor began in 2015 when she realized the immense potential for debt solutions in the startup ecosystem.

"I started providing these solutions, understanding that entrepreneurs needed more than just capital—they needed partners who understood their business deeply. Stride Ventures' approach, combining venture debt with strategic financial solutions, has set us apart in the market," opines Apoorva,

According to Apporva, Stride Ventures is the only international venture debt player from India and has expanded its offerings to create a comprehensive financial ecosystem that supports startups at various stages.

Regarding the firm's approach to investments. Apoorva affirms that it centers on innovation and accessibility of alternate finance for startups, aiming to protect founder ownership.

"By providing venture debt under an entrepreneur-first approach, we bridge funding gaps, extend runways, and accelerate growth. This approach has transformed startups' ability to scale and attract further investments," adds Apoorva.

Stride's focus is on backing category leaders with strong business models and substantial capital from marquee investors, avoiding sectors with regulatory overhang like crypto and real money gaming.

Apoorva explains, "Our investment strategies prioritize governance and secure investor interests, yielding recurrent, tangible, and foreseeable returns akin to fixed-income investments. This approach has garnered significant enthusiasm from various investor classes, including domestic investment offices and family treasuries.

With a diverse sector-agnostic portfolio including over 12 unicorns, Stride is supporting more than 150 portfolio companies. Apoorva mentions that it aspires to be the first billion-dollar venture debt fund, and through its portfolio, the firm has created approximately 40,000 direct and indirect jobs, supported over 30 female founders, and invested in 30+ ClimateTech and impact-oriented businesses. Stride has deployed INR 8,000 Crore to startups and MSMEs.

Indian venture debt is on the rise, having crossed the US$1 Billion mark in 2023, and is poised for significant evolution in 2024. Tailored solutions are emerging for R&D and capex-heavy sectors like EVs, according to Apoorva.

"We have exciting milestones ahead, with fully returned INR funds showing strong performance and a focus on USD strategies for international growth. Indian VC investments doubled to US$2 Billion in early 2024, signaling a positive trend for the market," opines Apoorva.

One of Stride's premier examples is Lohum, an eco-friendly battery material company specializing in Lithium-Ion Battery recycling. Lohum recently announced a groundbreaking partnership with the UAE government, for the UAE's first EV battery recycling plant, after participating in the 'Stride Select' event in UAE aimed at creating investment synergies.

Similarly, Perfios has expanded its reach to almost 18 countries. As a global SaaS company, Perfios serves the banking, financial services, and insurance (BFSI) industry. "Such investments not only promise high returns but also enhance the digital capabilities of businesses across various industries. This not only benefits Perfios but also adds a feather to India's cap," adds Apoorva.

Facts:

  • Portfolio size: 150+
  • Unicorns: 13
  • Number of funds: 5
  • Total Amount Sanctioned: US$650 Million
Prince Kariappa

Features Content Writer

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