Emergence of New Age Angel Investors!
Shanti Mohan, Co-founder & CEO LetsVenture

Founded in 2013 LetsVenture is today organizing India’s private market by making the process of fundraising easy, efficient, and transparent for both startups and investors and bringing value-added products to the market. In the last 7 years, startups have raised INR 2,800+ crore across 527+ rounds and the marketplace has 29 Syndicates, 10000+ Angel Investors from 60 countries, and 100 Micro VC Funds. LetsVenture is backed by Accel, Chiratae Ventures, Nandan Nilekani, Ratan Tata, Rishad Premji, Mohandas Pai, Sharad Sharma, Anupam Mittal. LetsVenture partnered with MeitY Startup established as an initiative of the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) and also launched LV Fuel, an investment syndicate of founders exclusively from LetsVenture’s portfolio companies. LetsVenture also launched its Women in Network (WIN) initiative in March 2021, which aims to bring more women, investors, to the angel investing table, thereby pushing for a larger change for women in leadership in the startup ecosystem.

What has propelled the rise of these new-age angel investors?

Previously, the startup ecosystem largely saw domination by seasoned investors and younger founders. What's exciting now is that younger investors in the age group of 25-30 are also joining the ranks of these angels. The reasons for this accelerated growth come down to several factors in the startup landscape such as - Zomato’s IPO, clubbed with the accelerated pace of ESOP buybacks which have created a new set of founders and investors. LetsVenture as a platform witnessed a 75% jump in new angel investors with no prior experience indicating increased interest in startup investing among new-age angel investors.

The other active profile is second-generation family businesses - they are globally connected, and use private market investing not just to generate wealth but also to update themselves on emerging technology and changing customer preferences.

What is the typical mindset of an angel investor when they choose to invest in a particular company?

Angel investing is about access to the right opportunity - this access is created mostly by our domain expertise, and the networks to which we belong. However, the primary motivation for new entrants to the investing space is meeting passionate entrepreneurs, as well as contributing to entrepreneurship, besides taking the non-linear path to wealth creation.

I started my investing journey because I believed I could contribute meaningfully to early-stage businesses, mentor entrepreneurs, and be a partner in their journey. Entrepreneurship by definition is a difficult journey with many unknowns reducing the probability of success- hence an investor should view it as a high-risk asset. 

When you start angel investing, you step into a micro-world of investors, advisors, venture capitalists, banks, accountants, lawyers, universities, and entrepreneurs all networked together in a somewhat hidden economy. The world of angel investing is rich with stories of great successes and unfortunate failures but it is also full of creative ideas, wonderful business adventures, and very interesting people. 

Do new-age angel investors follow different investing patterns as compared to old-school investors?

I would say that any angel investor, whether new age or existing ones, searches for a good team that has relevant experience in the sector of their startup. There should be a large market opportunity, and the startup must possess the scalability to convert the potential. Investors take care to evaluate exit opportunities as they need to make a financial return on their investment.

Overall angel investing has grown significantly over the last year or so. What is the growth the LetsVenture platform has seen over the last year?

With the maturing ecosystem, angel investments have increased significantly, in India. LetsVenture as a platform in 2021, witnessed a 23% spike in startups looking for funds and a 30% rise in angel investors applying to the platform to invest in startups. LetsVenture also recorded a 120% jump in the number of deals closed, with 225+ transactions done in CY2021.
Your thoughts on India as the next angel investing hub? 

With India having about 62,000+ startups, there is no doubt it is the next angel investing hub. The spurt in the growth of startups is mainly because of advancements in research and development (R&D) and business process management. A vibrant angel investor community is critical to keep the entrepreneurial momentum going, and for India to sustain its position as one of the leading start-up hubs of the world.

Why are investors betting big on early-stage startups? 

I would say there are two reasons for this. One is that rapid investment in early-stage startups has been coming at the backdrop of mature startups becoming soonicorns or unicorns in India, while some are going the new-age IPO route. The other thing I’ve seen is that angel investors are buying larger stakes in a particular startup before the valuation of the startup. This kind of early investing works because it reduces the investor risk in case of a fumble. Also, most angel investors would love to back a second-time founder or even first-time founders who have worked previously with a unicorn. 

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