Venture Capital Funds of the Women, by the Women, for the Women. Interview with Ankita Vashistha - Founder of India's and Asia's first venture capital fund that promotes women entrepreneurship
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With today's angel investment, venture capital, and debt funding taking unconventional routes and resulting in actually converting entrepreneurship into action in addition to conventional funding, the investors' thinking needs appreciation for mentoring and effecting a scaling-up of a startup's growth. Now, with real entrepreneurial mentors being the criteria, Entrepreneur India interacted with Ankita Vasishtha from the point of view of mentorship of women-led ventures.
Ankita is Founder and Chief Executive Officer of India's (and Asia's) first venture capital fund that invests in and promotes women entrepreneurship, along with technology and innovation. This initiative called SAHA FUND has overseen investments in India, Asia, UK and the US.
The intention behind this specialized fund is to promote and scale up successful businesses that have women leaders, or women employees or women consumers as the focus; across healthcare, brands, Artificial Intelligence (AI), financial services, analytics and cybersecurity.
Apart from the above, Ankita is also a voracious advocate for gender equality at the workplace in emerging economies. Check out below her insights on investments, mentoring, entrepreneurship, and SAHA Fund:
Investing in Innovation by Women
With SAHA Fund, women entrepreneurs are given an opportunity to innovate. This scheme promotes and invests in technology and innovation.
"We look to invest in companies that are led by women leaders, employees or focussed on women centric products and services. The idea was to address the gap of women entrepreneurs in the ecosystem," states Vasishtha.
Also, with a sprout in the number of women angel investors and venture capitalists, Saha Fund should serve as a shot-in-the-arm for the new-gen women investors and entrepreneurs. Women leaders, employees, and women-centric products and services have benefitted from Ankita's SAHA Fund.
"The idea was to address the gap of women entrepreneurs in the ecosystem," she re-iterates..
The motivational factor behind investments and mentoring
With today's investors having mostly taken up the mantle of mentors, more than ever, this trend should lead to the incubation of new ventures that actually have a good working and scalable model but fall short with respect to finding able-minded mentors.
Vasishtha's SAHA Fund serves exactly the above purpose.
"I am an entrepreneur and investor myself and it is my passion to work with startup teams from the ground level and really help them scale their business. Funding is just one aspect of successful and active investing, we partner with companies to help them build their team, business development, product, client connect, networking and geographical outreach," she informs.
Ankita also works in tandem with multiple domain experts, industry leaders, and a custom investment team that advises and chairs ventures to help them grow.
Also, like the new-gen mentors today, she looks at ventures that could solve genuine issues plaguing the masses. "I look at the company's team, idea, post revenue, clients, and geographies. Companies should have a path to profitability and a long term vision. I am currently looking at companies across healthcare, AI. IoT, finch, cybersecurity, and smart infra," adds Vasishtha.
What can ventures to do obtain funding from SAHA?
Ankita advises startups and early-stage ventures to, develop a unique idea to solve a real market problem, and to have a great team with relevant experience to implement solutions effectively and take the company forward.
"One must be 100% convicted of their own idea before they can get investors convinced about," she recommends.
Need for women to take up VC Investments and mentoring of ventures as full-fledged careers in 2018 and beyond
With the general chorus, amongst industry leaders echoing the need for more women investors (angel, VC, and debt), Ankita believes that women should take up science, engineering, and math streams right from the school level to enables them transcend into the working ecosystem, and thereby eventually lead big investment banks, VC firms, and private equity houses.
"This will bring about a balance both from the investor side and startups side," she signs-off.