Early-stage venture capital firm Antler is looking at building a portfolio of 100 start-ups in the next two-and-a-half years in the country, working with these new businesses through the first 12 months of their operations and help them build in India for the world.
Speaking with PTI, Antler India Partner Rajiv Srivatsa said Antler was set up with the vision of being an institution that impacts the first 12 months of the founder’s journey, and stay along as the start-up becomes a unicorn or even a decacorn.
“We still have a portfolio of only 12-13 companies (in India), the idea is to do this with 100 companies over the next two-and-a-half years…the idea is to create a truly global venture capital firm that helps the founders in the first 12 months institutionally,” he said.
Founded in Singapore in 2017, Antler has invested in over 300 companies globally across 30 different industries. Of these companies, 40 per cent have at least one female co-founder, and the founders represent 70 nationalities. The firm has offices across five continents, covering most major entrepreneurial hubs, including London, Berlin, Stockholm, New York, Singapore and Sydney.
Srivatsa explained that most venture capitalists usually come into the mix after the product has been launched and after the founder has some kind of traction. Before a product is launched by a start-up or by a founder, very few institutions, a lot of individuals (angel investors), incubators and accelerators are there.
“Antler’s sweetspot is to significantly impact the first 12 months of the founders journey, to be a true partner in that first 12 months.
“Because in the first 12 months, they don’t have too much capital, they don’t have too much traction, they don’t even know sometimes who their co-founder is, they have no product as they’re still building the product,” Srivatsa said.
He added that Antler, in addition to access to institutional capital, helps founders find the right set of people to work with and get early traction on the product.
Srivatsa noted that Antler will particularly serve founders ‘building in India, for the world’, as it believes this will be one of the biggest trends to watch.
Also, given that each member of Antler India’s team is an ex-founder and creator, this helps bring in a truly ‘founder-first’ ethos.
Antler India has held two programmes this year, wherein it received 4,500 applications from start-ups. Of these, about 40 founders were chosen with whom the Antler team spent to understand these organisations. From these, Antler picked 13 start-ups.
“So, we work with these founders after putting in the Antler cheque and work with them for the next six months to sort of stabilise, get them to their first product launch and also to help them raise their seed capital with a VC.
“We don’t take a sector view, we take a thematic view like we love founders building in India for the world…we are very gung-ho about decentralisation which includes blockchain, crypto, Web 3.0, NFTs,” he added.
Talking about its fund in India, Srivatsa said Antler is raising a local USD 50 million fund, as well as getting a pool of USD 50 million global fund.
“So, we will have USD 100 million to invest in India in three years 2021, 2022 and 2023. The purpose of this USD 100 million is USD 30-40 million (will be given) as the first cheques in the first 12 months, and keep the other USD 50 million for follow-ons, as the companies raise a seed round and the next round…our cheque sizes will always plus minus USD 200,000” he said.
He added that the first close of the USD 100 million is expected to be announced in the fourth quarter and the final close is being targeted for early next year.