The event kicked off with a welcome note delivered by Co-Founder and CPO of LetsVenture, Sanjay Jha, who spoke about building a fundraising platform of the future and the next steps for LetsVenture products. Co-founder and CEO Shanti Mohan came on stage next to set the mood and talk about the Investment Sentiment in the Indian startup ecosystem.
A key take-away from her talk: Angel investing in India has not slowed down as one would expect. Rather, it has evolved; for the better, for both investors and startups. She stressed “although the investment market isn’t bullish, it is definitely optimistic in 2017.”
Shanti ended with an announcement of the new partnership between LetsVenture and Facebook, for the SheLeadsTech India initiative. A power move focused on further enabling India’s startup ecosystem.
Panel: India – the epicenter of disruption
Moderated by Ravi Gururaj, founder of QikPod, this panel hosted Gaurav Gupta of Government of Karnataka and Nikhil Agarwal of Government of AP. Both speakers focused on startup-friendly policies of their respective states, while also encouraging startups and investors to approach the government directly for any and all help needed to solve their problems.
Representatives of both governments were quick to acknowledge that their respective states were pro-startups and pro-investors with new policy making approaches to nurture growth. It really was a jugalbandi of two people extolling the helpful policies and infrastructure for startups and investors.
Panel: 2017 Investment Playbook
This panel was moderated by Mihir Dalal of Mint, who was successful in pulling information on the investment outlook and the playbook that investors would be better off following in 2017, by asking the relevant questions to the panel members, Mohan Kumar, Mark Silgardo, and George Ugras. The three esteemed panelists, who belonged to different venture capitalist firms, opined that 2017 is the best year for venture investments, thanks to the lessons learned in the past couple of years about investment. The buzzwords for the year seemed to be #fintech, #agritech, #healthcare, #AI, #cognitive ventures, and rising opportunities and startups in IOT technologies.
Fireside chat: The Untapped Potential of ‘Bharat’
Sanjay Jain of EkStep and Sharad Sharma of iSpirt spoke candidly about India Stack, the three different levels of India that startups and tech companies need to focus on.
India 1: the elite, trained, English-speaking millions
India 2: the small merchants, maids, farmers who aspire to be India 1 someday
India 3: the bottom of the pyramid who are in need of low interest credit, which will change their lives.
India Stack is the technological backbone for presence-less, paperless, and cashless economy. Easier access to formal credit is the answer to transforming India, while local language and frontier technology will make a huge difference in the coming years, opined both Sharad and Sanjay.
Fireside chat: Demystifying Frontier Tech
Karthee Madasamy and Sateesh Andra actually demystified frontier tech, and explained how relevant, cutting edge, and disruptive (in a good way) it is in the global context. Frontier tech has the potential to change the world as we know it because it is fundamentally different and unique than anything anyone has seen before, opined both of the esteemed investors. They also stressed on the importance of investors finding the right frontier tech startup to invest in, after doing their due diligence, of course.
And another cherry on the top, we were trending on Twitter at #2 right above Bahubali 2. Check out https://twitter.com/letsventurein to catch up on all the action from other ecosystem players. Or search #LetsIgnite2017 for the top tweets.
Panel: Investing for Growth vs Investing for Exits
This is akin to the old chicken vs egg story. However, the panelists – Sarbvir Singh, Priya Mohan, Manav Garg, and Anirudh Damani, moderated by Bala Girisaballa, were quick to point out that both of these need to be kept in mind while investing. On the other side of the coin, the founders should focus on building value for the company before looking at monetization. See, there’s no clear answer for this chicken and egg conundrum.
Panel: How VCs give Angels Exits
Moderated by Anil Advani, this panel consisted of Abheek Anand, Subrata Mitra, Rutvik Joshi, and Siddharth Ladsariya, all of them VCs at esteemed firms. The panelists joked lightheartedly that they haven’t seen an exit in a long time! However, on a serious note, they enlightened the attending audience about when an exit is given to an angel in a deal. That VCs provide an exit to angels, oftentimes at a discount in the valuation. That, a “good angel,” i.e., an angel strategic to the growth of the company who works for the company’s interest, is usually not let go. Further, if a company is doing very well, angels may not want to exit.
Panel: The rise of Angel Networks
What is an Angel Network? Where does an Angel Network fall in the investment market? These questions as well several pertinent ones were answered by this panel that saw Rakshit Kejriwal, Paula Mariwala, Sam Mehta, Apurva Salarpuria, and Sreekanth Perepu, who all belong to different angel networks, explain them. Angel Networks actually translate to (individual) networks of individual angels in the network, which can be of huge value for startups. Apart from obvious network connects, angel networks bring forth diversity of perspectives from members of various backgrounds, which ultimately help the startup grow and evolve.
Fireside chat: Creating value from Mergers and Acquisitions
Klaas Oskam, Srinivasan K, and Vivek Subramanyam enlightened the audience about how mergers and acquisitions (M&A) can be beneficial for both startups as well as the investors. M&As can create value for companies, especially when they have reached a stage where they are capital positive. However, ensuring that the key people continue to stay and that there are supporting structures built in to sustain it, are very important, opined the panelists.
Panel: Exits through Secondary Buy-outs and IPOs
The last panel of day 1 of LetsIgnite 2017 boasted of Mohandas Pai, Girish Joshi, Nao Murakami, and Hareesh Ramanna, moderated by Syna Dehnugara of CNBC TV-18. The panelists went into the SEBI norms, how they’re different from the regulations in the West, how it is far easier there as opposed to here in India to do an IPO. The panelists also discussed in length about SEBI’s ITP, the listing platform for startups, which provides flexibility for startups in terms of compliance and disclosure processes, while also giving tax benefits and learning to them. The esteemed panelists also spoke about how this is an opportunity for regulators to proactively educate startups and enable them to list their company, as is done in the US.
This marked the close of Day 1 of LetsIgnite 2017, leaving the attendees with a thirst for more insight into angel investing, the role VCs play in the investment market, and of course, the startups that actually put in the effort to build innovative products and services, in whatever vertical.Click here to read what happened on Day 2 of LetsIgnite 2017