The experience of Footprints Childcare, a non-tech startup in a tech dominated world
Browsing through the archives of funded startups, it is noticeable that Tech startups have been at the forefront, when compared to non-tech startups. Sectors such as Consumer Internet, Mobile & SaaS etc being the most prominent amongst these, for startups.
Does this imply non-tech startups do not stand a fighting chance when placed alongside their tech counterparts? Or would it mean they need to disguise themselves as tech startups? Here is an example from LetsVenture’s book where-in a startup, classified under the label of non-tech managed to raise funds successfully, and closed their round within a few weeks of being a featured syndicate on the platform.
Here is, Co-founder of Footprints Childcare, Purvesh Sharma’s, account on how they managed to find their feet and raise funds successfully via LetsVenture.
Footprints Childcare is changing the way early childhood care and education functions in India by recognizing the gaps within professionalism, accountability and research based curriculum in the prevalent system and they are filling these gaps via their institution. They are bringing technology to education, yet find themselves under the tag of non-tech, as their final service is of a non tech nature.
Footprints Childcare was launched in 2013. by IIT-IIM alumni and entrepreneurs Raj Singhal , Purvesh Sharma, and Ashish Aggarwal. They were later joined by Amita Bhardwaj, who became their Curriculum Director.
When Footprints Childcare initiated their fundraising process, they approached several angel groups but found that despite the population of Mobile and Tech startups on LetsVenture, it was the best platform for them as LetsVenture made them a featured syndicate, thus helping them gain visibility, quickening their fundraising process.
“We had no prior knowledge of fundraising, before Footprints. Although we did have prior startup experience, we had not raised funds yet. We began our seed funding ourselves, through our network of batchmates between 2013 – 14. Then a friend introduced us to LetsVenture and we got on the platform in 2015.
When were looking at begining the fundraise, we prioritized and distributed the tasks each one of us from the team would have to undertake and focus on. We are a team of 4 people primarily. Raj Singhal, is our CEO who would focus on raising the investments, while Amita Bhardwaj, who is the domain expert managed the curriculum and the delivery of services to the students and parents. Ashish Aggarwal, undertook, monitoring the support functions and administrative responsibilities while I concentrated on the business development.” says Purvesh.
We are a delivery led organization and are viewed as providing consumer services. We had to divide our hierarchy of activities based on the same factors. Thus, if I were to outline these activities, I would say, our main priorities were as follows,
- Delivery: Including customer support & feedback etc. Parent satisfaction is our primary parameter that needs to be delivered and achieved and we set up a Net Promoter Score that accounts for and tracks this. It is analyzed and then worked upon.
- Admissions: Reaching out to people was our second agenda point in the activities
- Raising funds, would then become much easier once we had ironed out and managed the first two.
Talking about his experience with Investors Purvesh says, “As a non tech startup iteration and execution took longer for us and most investors we spoke to were interested in Tech and Mobile startups because of the evident exponential growth. We obviously could not promise the same growth exponentially and received a lot more No’s over positive responses. Although what set us apart was that we were organic and stable and we could show them, based on our track record that we had established, that we will be able to deliver returns 10 times more within the next 5-6years.
We obviously cannot compare ourselves to Tech startups on the same level but Investors invested in us because of our Team, Idea and product, from a consumer service standpoint.
The question that most investors asked us was focused around our differentiation within our sector. As this sector is unorganised and is a space where it is hard to scale. We showed them our track record and our extensive use of technology which was even better than a few organizations in the US and UK. We also knew we could scale slowly and steadily without compromising on quality. We had done our research before we began and recognized the gaps of professionalism, accountability and research based curriculum within the prevalent system and filled them. This made Footprints Childcare unique”
Speaking to the investors involved in Footprints Childcare fundraise about footprints;
Vinay Bansal, Director at Step Ahead Ventures Pvt Ltd said, “Our Investment Philosophy is to back the right team in a growing sector. I liked the way Footprints Childcare has grown till date, primarily the investments team is doing in creating a model that is scalable and growth oriented. Footprints Childcare team is doing something they are passionate about, and providing a core consumer service, that is needed by every other household today. It is a business that is fundamentally strong and unlike lot of new tech ventures whose basics are questionable.”
Kshitij Jain, Founder of mobile enterprise application startup Mobolt said, “Child Day Care is a $50 billion dollar mature business in US. I believe India will follow the same trend as more and more women join the workforce. That makes for a perfect timing for a core consumer services businesses like Footprints Childcare in emerging economy like India. Footprints Childcare proven leadership team is just the right team, at right place, doing the right thing with perfect ingredients of passion, professionalism & technology to scale & deliver.”
FUNDRAISING & PLATFORM INSIGHTS:
“The scenario is improving fast in India although investor maturity is still a bit low compared to the US. It is easier to raise funds from customers for non-tech startups. Although platforms such as LetsVenture are filling this gap and with time, the platform, investors and entrepreneurs will mature. LetsVenture is fast, transparent and gives access to lots of investors at one go. Basically LetsVenture has brought Entrepreneurs and Investors on the same platform and removed middlemen, delays and hurdles; Thus facilitating fund raise and saving crucial time and effort for both Entrepreneurs and Investors. As soon as we were listed as Featured Syndicate a lot more investors showed interest. Even the people in our network that we were already speaking to were more interested. We were able to close the round successfully within few weeks of featuring our syndicate.”
Key Learning & advice:
- Don’t give up: When you’re talking to investors you are bound to hear a lot of No’s as compared to the number of positive responses. If you talk to 150 investors, maybe about 20 would give positive responses and the rest will be No’s. But with each conversation you learn, grow and evolve.
- Build your business for yourself: The investors are important to your business but ultimately you need to build your business for yourself and not the investors as the stakes are higher for the entrepreneur. If you are passionate and invested in your own business, the investors will see this reflected in your deck and pitch automatically. No matter what happens, you shouldn’t get swayed. If you are in doubt, remind yourself to do what you are doing right now despite the odds and continue from there; Lastly
- Have fun: This is very important for an entrepreneur. Enjoy the process and don’t worry about the ultimate outcome. The journey itself is enjoyable and has a lot to offer. Do not let investor responses either positive or negative get to you, just enjoy it and learn from it, when you enjoy the process you learn more. It is also important to find the inspiration within yourself and learn from a hands on experience. No one else is as passionate about or committed to your business as you are.
Footprints Childcare website : http://www.