Monday, 1 June 2015
Thursday, 7 May 2015
02:08 CB Insight, GHV accelerator, Indian start-ups, Japanese Investors, Mobile commerce, Nasscom, Rebirth Partners, SoftBank, venture capital, World Innovation Lab No comments
Global investors, including early-stage investors, are actively looking to grab a pie of India's growth story because its thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem is seen as one of the most lucrative investment destinations across the world. While US investors have been active in the Indian start-up scene for long, it is now the turn of Japanese investors to commit significant investment and management focus to grab the India opportunity.
According to a recent venture capital (VC) funding report released by CB Insights, India has outpaced China in the number of deals struck by VC funds in the first quarter of 2015. Though, China was still ahead of India in terms of deal value at $2.99 billion, India's funding stood at $1.35 billion. For India, this marks a rise of 225 per cent over the same quarter of the previous year. In this entire funding scene, Japan saw around 28 start-up deals by VCs during the first quarter of 2015.
Making Inroads for Japanese Investors
Gurgaon-based GHV Accelerator is leading the way in enabling Japanese investors to access opportunities in India. GHV Founder & Chief Mentor Vikram Upadhyaya, who has a deep and decade-long connection in Japan, launched the sector agnostic accelerator venture in October 2014. He works regularly with Japanese investors scouting for opportunities here and strives to bridge the gap between the Japanese investors and the Indian start-up ecosystem, making it mutually beneficial for both sides.
Soon GHV announced its partnership with World Innovation Lab (WiL), one of Japan's largest VC funds, to help Indian start-ups not just with growth capital, but also the required resources and connections to go global, particularly in the technology and innovation hotbed like Silicon Valley.
Emphasising on the importance of the partnership with WiL, Upadhyaya says, "WiL is our great partner and a great supporter. Being Japanese, they supported my concept and admired my passion before anyone thought about this concept in India. Well-funded by LPs (Limited Partners) from Japan like Sony, Hitachi, Nissan, JVC & NTT Docomo among others, WiL aims to prepare Indian start-ups for Series A round of funding at a much faster pace and help them grow beyond India – whether it’s Silicon Valley or Japan.”
After China, Japanese investors perceive India to be the new big-bang in the internet and mobile space, and expect more vertical players to emerge in areas like eCommerce, internet and classifieds among others. Expressing his views on the rationale behind partnering GHV, Gen Isayama, Co-founder & CEO, WiL, shares, "India is a large and exciting market that we had to be in, but we waited for the right partner. With GHV Accelerator, there was a match of mission. Our objective is to scale up start-ups, take them global and significantly reduce the time taken from concept to global markets.”
WiL is one such example of intent turning into action. The Tokyo and Palo Alto-based VC fund looks to invest in start-ups with global appeal and disruptive potential, typically investing $5 million to $30 million in early-stage ventures, as well as, growth-stage start-ups through multiple rounds of investments. In addition to the capital, WiL also provides operational expertise and strategic partnerships to accelerate their portfolio companies' global expansion.
To multiply its value proposition, GHV has further collaborated with angel investor and mentors like Google India’s MD Rajan Anandan, Prajakt Raut; and firms like LetsVenture, Nasscom 10,000 Startups, etc. On GHV’s partnership with WiL, Rajat Tandon, Senior Director, NASSCOM 10,000 Startups, says, “Till recently, going global for tech start-ups meant addressing the US markets only. A lot has changed now. Start-ups are slowly recognising the opportunity to be truly global. Partnerships like GHV & WiL will not just help Indian tech start-ups get insights and assistance in tapping the Japanese and the US markets, but open up access to a new pool of investors as well.”
Indo-Japan Investment Corridor
Leading investors or funds echo that Indo-Japan investment corridor is one of the most important corridors for country’s growing economy, but the same remains underserved as far as the investments and interactions in the start-up and venture space is concerned.
Bringing to light the need to address this gap, Rehan Yar Khan, Managing Partner, Orios Venture Partners, says, "The Indo-Japan investment corridor is potentially the most important corridor, as it can be seen historically in automobiles, electronics, and transport & infrastructure space among others. But the same has been extremely under-represented in the new world of consumer internet and software.” Orios’ portfolio companies include names like – Druva, Yumist, PrettySecrets, Ola, Sapience and many others.
Speaking on the same lines, Shailesh Vikram Singh, Executive Director, Seedfund, says, “Though SoftBank, and a few others have been active recently and have forged some venture partnerships in India, the Indo-Japan corridor is still pretty empty. I think it is high time these two great Eastern cultures take a closer look at the current opportunity and build deeper relationships than what has been achieved so far. GHV is laying the foundation of a much-needed bridge here, and we can see the Indo-Japan relationship to move to the next level." The early-stage venture capital fund has invested in companies like Chumbak, CarWale, EduSports, Browntape, Nearify and many others.
Eyeing the Indian Start-up Goldmine
With the current trend of start-up growth expected to continue, India is showcasing great potential to become the second largest start-up system in the world after the US. And Japanese investors, who are labeled as one of the most tech savvy nations in the world, are showing avid interest in India.
When asked about the active participation of Japanese investors in the Indian start-up scenario, Upadhyaya explains that the Japanese have a very small consumer market. Hence, they have always looked at emerging markets like China. And with the high growth of start-ups, Japanese investors find India to be the next logical geographical destination. Indian start-ups must build asset-light models and address pain points pan India, which can be replicated globally.
He adds further, “Over the past few years, I have been in talks with several large investors and companies from Japan, and advising their boards on their India strategy. As the Indian market opportunity emerged clearer, I noticed their intent change to action. While the likes of SoftBank have already made announcements, other Japanese giants are now rapidly making their moves in India.”
The Way Ahead
The interest of Japanese investors in the Indian VC space is on the rise due to factors like growing number of smartphone users, increasing Internet penetration, luring millennial generation, and changing lifestyle of urban middle class, etc. Several Japanese-led firms like Softbank, Tokyo-based Beenos Partners, Singapore-based Rebright Partners and other seed stage investors such as IMJ Investment Partners and M&S Partners are eager to be part of India's growth story.
SoftBank is one of the significant investors in the Indian eCommerce space, with bets in ventures like Housing.com, Ola and Snapdeal among others. Recently, Tokyo and Singapore-based venture capital firm Rebright Partners announced its plans to enter Indian market. Typically seeking investment in early stage ventures, the firm launched a new $20 million fund for Indian start-ups.
Similarly, Japan's Netprice.com Inc, a consumer-internet incubation-cum-investment firm, is also planning to step up its activity in India by investing in a clutch of start-ups in the web and mobile space. There have also been reports that Tokyo-based global start-up incubator-cum-early-stage investor Samurai Incubate is also looking to foray into India, in partnership with domestic incubators.
Wednesday, 6 May 2015
Gurgaon-based GHV Accelerator on Tuesday said it has selected the first startup for its accelerator programme. Launched last month, Gurgaon-based LazyLad is a mobile application that connects customers with nearby and local retailers, who can upload their inventory on the platform, which in turn is organised by the startup. The company works on an asset light model and lets sellers handle own logistics. "Frugality is what impressed me the most in this model," said a, chief mentor at GHV. "India is one of the fastest growing countries in the world. Unlike the western world, India needs such frugal innovations all across sectors, then only we could think of the Googles/Facebooks emanating out of India."
Source : EconomicTimes.
Tuesday, 5 May 2015
02:18 angel investors, GHVAccelerator, Incubator, Indian Angel Network, Scalability, startup ecosystem No comments
What is scalability?
Scalability is the capacity of a company or system or a process within an organisation to manage the increase in demand. That is, a business is said to be scalable when it can be expanded enough to accommodate the growing business needs. Scalability helps a business grow as per its full potential. Scalable conditions provide a room for economic growth within a company.
_Investors invest only in businesses that are scalable. Scalability is important criteria for investors in deciding whether to invest in a particular business or not. Better the scalability, higher the economic value of the business and therefore higher the investor interest.
_Outsource non-core tasks: Transfer some specific tasks that can easily be contracted out to another larger company that is focused on that task. Think of the production of some specific components. Can some other company produce it? If yes, would it make your business more scalable? That paves the way for your organization to focus on the core of your business, as also leveraging the cost and operational efficiencies of someone else that is focused on doing what you outsource.
Tuesday, 14 April 2015
04:58 e-commerce, GHV accelerator, kirana shops, local suppliers, m-commerce, small businesses 1 comment
In recent years, e-commerce has taken the world by storm, changing the way we shopped, forever. Its newer avatar, m-commerce, has further accelerated the pace of growth in this segment, considering smartphone penetration itself is at an all time high.
The situation is no different in India where out of a total population of roughly 1.2 billion, 900 million already have a mobile subscription. However, only 110-120 million of them own a smartphone. But herein lies the potential of m-commerce because smartphone penetration in India has witnessed exponential growth in the last couple of years and the trend is only getting better with time.
With e-commerce and m-commerce, the world suddenly opened up for both – buyers and sellers. Geographical boundaries ceased to exist and we had access to the best of products and brands from across the world, that too from the convenience of our homes.
Similarly, sellers who started leveraging these platforms saw their fortunes change as business went up multifold; more than they would have ever imagined otherwise. They couldn’t ask for anything better, but this is just one part of the story.
Now look at the other side of the coin, while the e-commerce and m-commerce revolution was in full force, the local markets in the neighborhood had to bear the brunt because they were losing business rapidly to online markets. They felt helpless and were left wondering how to sustain themselves in this situation.
While market players like PepperTap, Grofers and Localbanya have already identified and set foot into this market space, albeit only in the grocery segment, they have generated enough traction to draw the interest of investors, with all three having received substantial investment to consolidate the businesses further. That is proof enough of the potential that n-commerce offers.It essentially plans to tap into the offline retail market in India, currently estimated at roughly $340 billion.
Localbanya, a Mumbai based online grocery store, raised an undisclosed amount in its third round of funding from Shrem Strategies in March 2015. Its biggest competitor in Mumbai Bigbasket, which raised $10 million from Ascent Capital way back in 2012, managed to raise another round of funds earlier this year from Singapore based LionRock capital. Moreover, in 2015 itself, PepperTap, a Gurgaon based mobile platform for grocery delivery received an undisclosed amount of seed funding from Sequoia Capital.
This is a good business model.
BUT, here is my question - why not bring in the concept of frugal innovation here? (Of which, I am a huge believer). Why depend on human intervention aka middlemen when technology can deliver? Why have a business model that is capex heavy? Why can’t technology empower ALL the stakeholders in the system?
So, while e-commerce and m-commerce were all about having the world at your feet, they failed to tap the small and sundry players in the local neighborhoods, such as grocery stores, dry cleaners, electricians, tailors, vegetable and fruit vendors, chemists, photocopiers,watch repair shops, car mechanics…the list is endless.
How convenient would it be if other than ordering our favorite gadgets and dresses online, we could tap technology, smartphones in particular (simply due to their easy access), to do these small, yet inconvenient and time consuming chores, and make our lives easier. These chores can feel like a complete waste of time and often we end up procrastinating these menial, but important chores simply because we feel ‘too lazy’ to step out of the comfort of our homes. And what about the carbon footprint we leave, if for every little chore a member of the family will take the car out!! Every single day… Do the math here…
Come to think of it, it’s not an impossible task, now that the basic platform is already available in the form of e-commerce and m-commerce. It’s all about tapping this space and taking it to the other end of the spectrum; think ‘neighborhood’, not ‘hyper-local’.
It would simply require integrating all possible service providers in the local neighborhoods onto the available platforms and enabling customers to get instant access to the ones in their vicinity, when the need arises. So whether you want to order milk, vegetables, grocery, stationery, or get your laptop repaired, laundry dry cleaned, suit altered or microwave repaired, you can accomplish it all with a simple tap on your phone. I guess we can call it ‘n-commerce’ (Neighborhood Commerce). Just apt…
Not only will it make lives easy for customers, it will offer a host of benefits to the local service providers. The obvious gain would be in terms of business volumes seeing a huge surge owing to regular orders from the vicinity, making these businesses a sustainable source of income for the sellers.
Another significant benefit would be that n-commerce would compel these otherwise ignorant players to start keeping stock of things and organise themselves better. Inventory tracking and management will improve, which will help them reduce costs by minimising any dead stock.
Moreover, data analytics would help analyse the trends – customer-wise, product-wise, and season-wise – and then stocking goods accordingly. There’ll be lesser chances of turning away and eventually losing a customer because everytime he/she orders, the seller “Doesn’t have the ‘Pepsi’ or ‘Ponds moisturiser’ in stock.” Above all, they will no longer feel left out of the online race.
The focus will shift to managing costs and improving services with n-commerce driving up competition in the local markets. It’ll be a win-win situation for both, customers as well as sellers.
Going by these recent developments, n-commerce is likely to be the ‘next big thing’ that will disrupt not just the e-commerce and m-commerce market, but also the franchise model in India, and set the cash registers ringing.
The writer of this article is Vikram Upadhyaya. He is the Chief Mentor and Accelerator Evangelist at GHV Accelerator. He is also the Founding Board Member of the Indian Angel Network Incubator and an advisor to projects being undertaken through the Telecom Centres of Excellence (TCOE). The views expressed here are personal.
Wednesday, 8 April 2015
02:33 Accelerator, angel investors, ENERGY HOLDINGS GROUP, FINANCIAL ECONOMICS, FINANCIAL SERVICES, FUNDS, GHV accelerator, INSTITUTIONAL INVESTORS, INVESTING, INVESTMENT, PRIVATE EQUITY, Vikram Upadhyaya No comments
Image Credits : Shutterstock
Monday, 16 March 2015
05:27 GHV accelerator, Proof of Concept, startups, technology, TEST POC, Vikram Upadhyaya No comments
If there is one thing in common amongst leading businesses across the globe, it is the fact that technology is an integral part of their overall business strategy.
I have always emphasised on the need for startups to clear the Concept of T.E.S.T. and POC to improve their chances of succeeding in the market. In my previous articles, I have already elaborated on three aspects of T.E.S.T., i.e., ‘Team’ and ‘Execution’. In continuation, I’ll be covering ‘Technology’ in today’s post.
There is no doubt that technology will drive the future. Be it our homes, workplace, or any other aspect of our day-to-day lives, technology will rule. In fact, it already does, its scope will expand further.
But what is it that has made technology an indispensable part of our lives? The answer is simple… it simplifies everything we need to do.
It is precisely because of this reason that businesses can benefit tremendously by integrating technology into everything they do, be it Operations, Human Resources, Finance and Accounting, Inventory, MIS, Supply Chain Management or Customer Management. Businesses that leverage technology are inherently more scalable than those that do not leverage technology across various functions.
Technology: An integral part of business
If there is one thing in common amongst leading businesses across the globe, it is the fact that technology is an integral part of their overall business strategy. It has enabled them to consistently derive the maximum value from within and deliver it to customers. It has enabled them to scale up and become the reckoning force that they are, across the globe. Consider names of leading companies across any sector and you will see a strong role of technology in their business strategy. Be it Google, Apple, Accenture, Proctor & Gamble, Unilever, Airtel, Vodafone, Microsoft, or Nestle, or even manufacturing companies like Samsung, Bajaj, Honda, etc.
Many entrepreneurs of startups and small businesses, even if aware of the advantages that technology offers, are usually wary of implementing it fearing the cost or inability to allocate people who can make the most of it. But time and again, it is proven that the pros far outweigh the cons and it will add tremendous value to the business in the long run. In fact, startups stand to gain significantly by integrating technology into their operations because their superior performance on various parameters on account of technology itself will act as a barrier for entry for other potential market players.
For a business, technology does much more than making things simpler. Overall, it helps improve the efficiency and effectiveness of an organization multifold across functions, which has a positive impact on its top-line and bottom-line. It ensures better speed and accuracy in operations and enhances the responsiveness towards operational and environment-related challenges.
Gaining a competitive edge
Whether you want to ensure better and faster communication through email, forecast market trends to come up with a winning strategy, track your inventory across multiple warehouses or generate the most complex MIS reports, that can take hours or even days to do manually, technology ensures that you can accomplish all this in a matter of just a few seconds.
Moreover, technology can help cut costs significantly by minimizing the manpower requirement and operational expenses and optimizing productivity. Ultimately, it is a company’s costs and responsiveness tothe dynamic market environment that serve as vital components in getting a competitive edge in the market, and this is where technology can make all the difference.
Technology complements all aspects of a business. While it is not technology alone that gives the business an edge, leveraging it to complement your efforts on all other fronts is what sets you apart and gives you an edge over others in the market. It can help you create a unique identity or value proposition and give you a lead over your competitors. Be it email, VoIP, cloud services, mobile technologies or social media, there are a host of technologies available in the market waiting to be tapped by companies.
The good part is that these technologies are now easily accessible and affordable and some of themcome absolutely free of cost, or at a very affordable cost in the SaaS (Software as a Service) model.
Leveraging the benefits of technology
As is the case with all functions in a business, it is the people within the organization who play a crucial role in leveraging the benefits of technology. Simply adopting technology just because others are doing it will be no good unless people are trained and retrained to use it effectively and optimally to give the business a competitive edge.
However, it is important to note that for a business it is not enough simply to adopt and integrate technology. Since newer and better technologies are emerging faster than ever, making the older ones redundant, it is equally important to identify the relevant ones and implement them sooner than your competitors, to not just ‘get’, but also ‘sustain’ your competitive edge.