Pre-VC Funds for Indian Startups.
Posted March 30, 2008on:
I am lately meeting a lot of early stage startup founders looking for access to capital, and not much that would involve a typical VC Firm. Most of the time, the need is to build the prototype, ramp up the team and figure out the business model – which is quite early to turn to conventional investors. I thought I’d collate some of the info that I am aware of to help this lot.If you are a startup that is product focused, there are quite a bit of funds that are floating around for those looking for the sub INR 50,00,000 range, and with some lenient terms and equity distribution.
NRDC, the National Research Development Corporation has called for nominations for their Innovation Award and are giving Rs. 5 lakhs for the finalists. This is not a business plan competition but a way to provide seed grants for companies that are prospective. Do take a look at it and apply. They seem quite liberal with their terms and during my interaction came across as an organization that is keen on fulfilling the gap in the very early stages of a company. For More Information.. They do have a strong bias towards Patentable technology.
LRAMP, The Lemelson Research and Mentoring Program, has access and provides funding for companies that are looking to develop and build on their idea. It could be looked upon as a seed loan (has to be returned eventually). They have a board that approves each of the applications, but the loan is interest-free and is upto INR 25,00,000.
TiE Bangalore EAP Program: The EAP (Entrepreneurship Acceleration Program) of TiE bangalore is devised in such a way that the entrepreneur can find access to money and mentors in the same place. Given the limited pool of mentors, the candidates are filtered and selected, but on ventures that are very promising, there are individual angels within the chapter who have funded them. Rarefind, a Proto.in company, was funded in this similar Manner. Redbus.in is also a company which is in their mentorship programme.
The Chennai Fund: The Chennai fund, is afund put together for entrepreneurs looking for seed money upto INR 50,00,000. The chartered members of TiE chennai, including Ramaraj (Co-Founder of Sify), KB Chandrasekar, and the likes have pooled in money and do invest on personal capacities on ventures they find to be of interest. This is applicable only to startups based out of Chennai, as of now.
Banks. There is an information floating around that certain banks, (Citi and ICICI) are providing upto NR 25,00,000 as interest free loan for Small businesses. As long as your company is incorporated you would be able to apply for it. Do try talking to the manager of your local bank and see if it applies to you.
Government Programmes: The Department of Science and Technology (DST) has a programme called TePP, which stands for Technopreneur Promotion Programme, which provides a grant of upto INR 15,00,000.
Competitions. There are an increasing number of competitions that are focused towards the businesses which provide prize money in the $50,000 range – which is essentially seed money with no strings attached. With prize money which is much higher than most “seed funds”, its worth giving it a shot.
Echoing Green, is one such entity which is focused at social initiatives. They provide a prize money of $90,000 to 20 of the finalists. Their current deadlines have passed and they are going through the shortlisting process to announce the finalists for this year, but do keep an eye on them. (Based out of the US, but they look for companies world over)
The BiD Challenge, is another competition for budding entrepreneurs run by an organization out of the Netherlands.
The Department of Science and Technology, along with Intel organize an event named India Innovation Pioneers Challenge which is aimed at students. If you are still in college, that is something you should look at. DST brings in a slew of mentors from across the industry who provide some very valuable insights.
If you are doing anything related to Nano Technology, Nano Challenge, is a competition with 600,000 Euros as prize money.
Most entrepreneurs claim that they are solving a problem that the world is quite nagged by. If you are one of those folks and can prove it, the 21st century competition by the Oxford University is one to look at.
More, as I collate further Info.