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The Pandemic Paved the Way for Us, Leading to IPO: Ankit Mehta of ideaForge Raising funds by going public is not a viable option for everyone. But, one of the players who had an impressive Dalal debut was the native drone manufacturer ideaForge. The 2007-founded startup was listed at a 94 per cent premium on BSE

By Paromita Gupta

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Punita Sabharwal, Deputy Editor, Entrepreneur India and Ankit Mehta, co-founder and CEO, ideaForge

Despite the low laying season of capital infusion, the year 2023 was a good one with regards to companies getting listed on the BSE and NSE. The second half of the year was particularly a promising with a good 50+ Indian companies getting listed in the year. While the number is higher than that of 2022 (40 IPOs), the total fund raised was short by 17 per cent.

Raising funds by going public is not a viable option for everyone. But, one of the players who had an impressive Dalal debut was the native drone manufacturer ideaForge. The 2007-founded startup was listed at a 94 per cent premium on BSE.

"When we started ideaForge, we had a vision of what kind of environment and worldview we wanted to create. And I think seeing drones getting adopted in daily lives of real people that is the most exciting outcome for us," shared Ankit Mehta, co-founder and CEO, ideaForge during a fireside chat at Entrepreneur India's E Live x India Investment Forum 2023 in Mumbai.

Mehta along with his co-founders may have registered the company in 2007 but had begun giving wings to their idea in 2004, "We built our first drone as a student at IIT Bombay." The prototype has gone done as a part of Indian pop culture with its appearance in the 2009 film '3 Idiots'.

"First, we were ignored and then were denied access to the air space on the private side. Progressively over the years, we were regulated quite heavily. But with the pandemic, everything changed. We saw that there was a need for an overall reduction in human contact. And that need essentially translated into opening the air space for drones," he shared.

ideaForge is one of the 333 UAV startups in the country. According to Statista, it has been estimated that by 2030, India's drone market will reach nearly 2.5 trillion Indian rupees.

So, when did he decide it was time to go public? "The choice was very clear. We had a sustainable profitable business. We had to essentially plan what we wanted to be and where we had to play by 2030. And to do that, we need to make the investments today, which need to have adequate capital. Once that was determined, we felt that public markets, given our profitability, would be a desirable place to gain access to the capital."

Mehta shares that while they had an option to raise private capital and no investor push, for the growth objective of the business, they ended up going public, "Once you decide to take the journey, you don't ask any and everybody who wants to liquidate partially."

So, what advice would you like to give to aspiring entrepreneurs? "Depending on the time and sector you are in, times will be difficult and it will be smooth sailing for a period. But if you are in for the long run, you do encounter times which are challenging, and at that time, the most important thing that gets tested is your belief in the idea. So, doing it for the reasons you will not bail at the first sign of difficulty is something important in the long journey," Mehta shares. He holds a focused and aligned team to be a massive contributor to the success.

He concludes that as an entrepreneur, ultimately the end objective should be to generate profits, "The idea should not be a research project, but to do it as a business."

Paromita Gupta

Features Writer with Entrepreneur India

Covering news and trends in AI and Metaverse segments. An avid book reader running her personal blog on the side. You may reach me at paromita@entrepreneurindia.com. 
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