Ryerson Futures Inc (RFI), a Toronto-based technology startup incubator, is planning to launch a seed fund worth $5 million in India, a top executive of the firm told VCCircle. The fund will seek to invest between $50,000 and $500,000 each in 12-15 startups every year.
“The fund is still work in progress. As of now, it is just Ryerson and a high net-worth individual (HNI) from Mumbai in a 50:50 joint venture,” said Ajay Ramasubramaniam, director of business development (India) at Ryerson Futures. “We will be in a better position to talk more about the fund in the next couple of months.”
Ryerson, in partnership with Bombay Stock Exchange Institute in Mumbai, recently launched a startup accelerator called Zone Startups in India. According to Ramasubramaniam, while the seed fund prefers investing in its own incubatee firms, it will also look at outside opportunities, in the form of syndicate deals.
Zone Startups accelerator
Started in February this year, Zone Startups has already on-boarded 36 startups across data analytics, e-commerce, education, hardware technology, human computing interface, mobile payments, healthcare and enabling platforms. Its incubatees include AasaanPay, Blynk, Cubicle, DrawTime, LinkMySport and RetailNav.
“Since we are not a cohort-based programme, we look to work with a broad base of startups, as this will give us a larger funnel to channel potential investments. In our model, we accept startups into the accelerator on a rolling basis. So, there is a constant intake, and we get to work with a diverse set of teams. At the current rate, we expect to work with over 60 or more startups annually,” he added.
Ryerson manages a venture fund and provides seed financing, advisory and business services, as well as customer connections to select startups in exchange for an equity stake. RFI also works with corporate clients to assemble teams of entrepreneurial innovators to research, prototype, or pilot solutions to industry problems. Ryerson's flagship programme is called Digital Media Zone (DMZ) in Toronto. Operational since 2009, it has incubated over 150 startups to date.
(Edited by Joby Puthuparampil Johnson)