Global venture capital (VC) firm Antler, which has made over a dozen bets in India, has launched a fellowship programme in the country that will provide student founders an equity-free grant of $20,000 with no strings attached, Nandini Vishwanath, programme director at Antler India, said in a tweet.
Vishwanath tweeted that the few students who are selected will also pitch to Antler India for eligibility for pre-Seed funding in the range of $175,000-$250,000 at 10% equity at the end of the programme.
Antler India will select 10 student founders for the 16-week programme that will offer workshops, mentorship with top founders, and a peer community for them to lean on during and after the programme.
“We promise to help you handle all the boring parts too - accounting, incorporation, legal advice and more,” she tweeted.
Vishwanath explained in the tweet that Antler India has spoken to more than 6000 founders since its launch last year. One data point that stood out was the number of applications it received from founders who were still in college, dropped out or deferred placements. The VC firm spoke to more than 100 students who wanted to start across streams, despite peer and parental pressure to take on high-paying jobs and lack of access to capital and mentorship.
“In spite of these hurdles, they continue to build out of their dorms, during weekends and late nights... This spirit and the joy of building is infectious. So, we decided to be a part of this mad journey,” she added.
Antler was founded in 2017 by Magnus Grimeland. Last month, it said it raised over $300 million (Rs 2261 crore) for its fund so far.
Antler was launched in India last year with the aim of deploying $100 million in the country over the next three years. It has already invested in 13 startups across sectors such as fintech, software as a service (SaaS), ed-tech, e-commerce, direct to consumer (D2C), and HR-tech.
The investments in India include tech-enabled leadership development platform Peak Performer, interactive coding platform Codedamn, a vertical SaaS startup Bookee, social investment platform Flow Club, and social music platform Humit. The names of the other startups will be disclosed later, it said.
In preparation for its India launch, Antler had hired Rajiv Srivatsa, co-founder of Urban Ladder, to lead its local operations last year.
Earlier in January, FirstPrinciples venture capital founder Nitin Sharma also joined Antler as a partner to co-lead India operations with Srivatsa.