Mumbai-based early stage startup accelerator Ant Farm has raised an undisclosed amount in Series A funding from Bay Capital and Hausela Capital Partners. The funds will be used to reinforce the current portfolio and grow upcoming businesses in the travel space. It will also be used to build new early stage ventures in the health & fitness, hyper-local and mobile categories.
“With more and more startups in India entering the billion-dollar club, Ant Farm is poised to explore business opportunities in the dotcom and mobile space in high impact markets and create products which are disruptive,” said Rishi Khiani, managing director and CEO, Ant Farm.
Ant Farm had previously raised an angel round from Bennett Coleman & Co. Limited’s CEO Ravi Dhariwal and serial entrepreneur Sanjay Kalra.
Set up in November 2012, Ant Farm is a hybrid startup platform that brings together people, helps in ideation or scaling up an existing idea and sees through its execution. The accelerator claims that it has built profitable business units with Stylista.com, a fashion label, and Fork Media, a native advertising platform.
Stylista recently collaborated with fashion e-tailer Myntra (acquired by Flipkart) and Flipkart.com to facilitate better access to affordable designer wear for new-age shoppers. Fork Media claims to have a reach of over 80 million users and it recently acquired ClickZoot.
Ant Farm’s most recent venture, Arrive.com, is a travel discovery platform that is close to rolling out a mobile app for the East Asian market.
“Over the last year, we have already made successful forays in the fashion, advertising and travel industry verticals. We are now gearing up to disrupt the multi-billion dollar health and fitness space,” said Khiani.
Former Times Internet (TIL) CEO Rishi Khiani had left TIL after leading the digital business of the country’s largest media house Bennett Coleman & Co. Ltd for three years. Prior to TIL, he was the chief operating officer (COO) at Web18. He joined the organisation after selling his company UrbanEye to the Network18 group.
Ant Farm’s framework has been built to accelerate early-stage company building with an intensive hands-on approach backed by a team with knowledge of building leading consumer verticals. Khiani had roped in former colleague Upen Rai for the new venture. While Khiani is CEO and MD of Ant Farm, Upen Rai, a former director at Times Internet Ltd, had joined the venture as COO and executive director. Rai, who quit TIL last month along with Sandeep Amar (head of marketing at Indiatimes), was previously the COO of the group’s lifestyle-related entertainment TV channel Zoom.
Bay Capital is an independent investment management firm, while Hausela Capital Partners backs firms in the digital technology space. This is Hausela’s first investment in the technology space in India. In the country, it has also backed Estee Advisors which provides risk-optimised returns in the Indian capital markets.
(Edited by Joby Puthuparampil Johnson)