Kerala startups solving unique problems: Angel Investor

(L-R) Sabeena Shaji A, Deputy Vice President, Federal Bank and Seema Chaturvedi, Founder & Managing Partner, AWE Funds spoke about 'Opportunities in She Economy' moderated by S. R. Nair, Founder, Mentor Guru at the Seeding Kerala 2020 summit held in Kochi today.

Startups focused on finding solutions for solving the common man’s problem have more prospects for sustainability and economic growth

Kerala has a very vibrant eco-system for startups that is not just restricted to Kochi or Thiruvananthapuram and is rapidly moving to other smaller cities in the state, a leading angel investor told the two-day Seeding Kerala 2020 that began here today.

Mr. Anil Joshi, Managing Partner of Unicorn India Venture who has been investing in various startups from Kerala, said, “I am very happy to share that most of the startups in Kerala are based on solving unique problems”.

Startups focused on finding solutions for solving the common man’s problem have more prospects for sustainability and economic growth, he added.

Day one of the fifth edition of Seeding Kerala 2020, organized by Kerala Startup Mission (KSUM) saw investors looking for innovative ideas from startups.

At the session titled ‘Where will I put my money in 2020 and beyond,’ speakers pointed out the importance of having startups with intermingling and unique problem-solving ability.

One of the panelists emphasized on having not only unique but complementary products. Mahesh Murthy, Founder & Director, Exseed Space, said, “We look for startups that can be paired. We mostly invest in space tech and we look for revenues from the early days. One of the best ways is to grow along with similar-interest companies.”

Complementary companies are essential for growth as they bring in business opportunity for each other, said Padmaja Ruparel, Co-founder, Indian Angel Network and Founding Partner, IAN Fund. “We invest in companies that are focused on sectors which are built on the need of the country. Having said that, for optimizing the growth parameter, one needs to look at companies that can be pitched together. We have a company that works on waste management. Similarly, we also have invested in a company that focuses on leather products made of waste. So, it is very interesting to see how they could work together.”

Padmaja stated, “We do take risk and bets on our investment but mostly it is on the promoter more than the idea in itself.”

On the inaugural day, the summit focused on investor awareness, investment opportunities and strategies, co-investment opportunities and associated risks.

There was also a discussion on ‘My First Seed Round – Mistakes I Made and Lessons Learnt’. Curated by angel investor Robin Alex Panicker, the speakers spoke about taking funding and the challenges. 

Deena Jacob, Co-founder, Open Financial Technologies, said, “It is important to see from whom you take the money and whether the investor believes in your idea, trusts your ability and your philosophy. The thought process needs to align for future growth.”

Abhi K, CEO, Carestack and Arjun Satheesh, Head of operation, underlined the importance of communicating every decision with the investor. “We have had our fallout, but every decision is discussed and informed,” stated Mr. Satheesh.

Other panelists who spoke included Shihab Muhammed, CEO, Survey Sparrow and Rajan Singh, Founder, Concept Owl.

The day also witnessed a riveting discussion on ‘Opportunities in She Economy’, where the speakers discussed about the challenges faced by women entrepreneurs and the gender disparity.

Seema Chaturvedi, Founder & Managing Partner, AWE Funds, said, “Less than three per cent of venture funding goes to women business. It reflects on the serious gender disparity. There are around 15-20 per cent enterprises established by women, yet we do not see as many investors.”

The summit also witnessed as many as 24 investors and 21 startups engaged in a one-on-one interaction at the Investor Café.

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