Thursday, 8 February 2018

Essential Start-up Tips

“Ideas are easy. Implementation is hard”. This phrase is true for modern-day start-ups as they juggle various facets of a challenging business environment. From ideas to execution, the strength of a start-up lies in paying attention to finer details. While there are hundreds of start-ups that have made their mark today, there are a million others who have, sadly, bitten the dust. What separates a successful start-up from the not-so-ones. Here are some of pearls of wisdom that you can follow when it comes to launching your next venture.

1)      Failing to plan = Planning to fail
You’ve got to put together a solid business plan. Addressing the problem statement, target customers, revenue model, cashflow management, and performance matrix, aligned very well with the time-bound business objectives can get you further along in your journey.

2)      The early bird catches the worm
Launch your business quickly and address the problem statement right away. Waiting for a perfect product may drain too much time and resources. Instead, extract the right amount of value from your product and present it to your customers. Market timing is critical here.

3)      Teamwork is the secret sauce to success
Regardless of which business you are into, putting together a kick-ass team is mandatory. From founders to customer service, from sales to domain experts, these are your backbone. Getting them right is critical to your business. Putting aside personal interests especially among the founders for the larger goals and open communication between team members can pave the way for a favorable outcome.

4)      Know thy customer and know them well
Not every customer is going to be ideal for your business. Understanding the effort involved in acquiring and then servicing a customer is important. You cannot have too many customers paying you too little. This leads to a higher acquisition and servicing cost to the company. Going after small customers who pay within your comfort zone is far better than large customers who may be bad paymasters.

5)      Stay lean
Accomplish more with less. Whether your well-funded or bootstrapped, services or product company, as a start-up, learn to curb unnecessary expenses. Let go of that fancy office space, or that extra spend on parties and outings. Avoid those expensive conferences or events, instead stick to a budget and keep a tight check on your spend.

6)      In God we trust, everything else needs to be measured
Performance metrics across all business functions are sacrosanct. Prioritize strategic and tactical goals for founders and team members. Ensure that you evaluate your company’s performance against your short, medium and long-term goals, make adjustments as necessary and optimize your resources to meet those set targets.

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Budget Wishlist for the Start-Up Sector

By Mr. Ishan Singh, 
          CEO & MD RevStart
          Member, Mumbai Angels Network

As an entrepreneur turned angel investor, who runs RevStart, where we offer co-working, incubation and acceleration services, I meet startups and entrepreneurs daily. Startups in India have varied needs that need to be addressed by the government with an open mind & financial eye.

Mr. Modi had ignited a billion minds with Start-up India and Make in India. With large number of unemployed youth, this is the need of the hour. The current government has done a lot to help the startup ecosystem, however the Modi government's mantra of minimum government and maximum governance seems contradictory when one looks at the Angel tax or the recent news where the Income Tax department has asked ecommerce sites to reclassify discounts as capital expenditure.

For any budding entrepreneur, access to capital is the most critical factor to success. The government needs to have a broad-based program to ease the flow of equity capital and credit to entrepreneurs and start-ups.

A good idea would be to look at incentives being given in other countries – most programs involve grants, access to credit and tax credits to investors.

The Israeli prime minister had recently visited India and I hope the government learns from Israeli programs that promote entrepreneurship. It would be interesting for readers to know that in Israel, the Angels Law is an incentive to invest in start-ups by deducting the investment amount, up to NIS 5 million (approximately $1.5 million), out of their taxable income, produced from any source for up to 3 years. Now compare that to our Angel Tax! Israel also has an excellent grants and tax incentive program to promote entrepreneurship, spur R&D, tourism and even a special fund called the ‘Nitzan Fund’ to incentivise agri-research.

The US government too, has several programs that encourage business to create and retain jobs, make capital investments, promote development in rural areas and promote innovation. The US Small Business Administration has been established to fund entrepreneurs and small business where private banks may not be inclined to. There are also a host of other grants, like the Small Business Innovative Research Grant program that provides $2.5 billion of annual grants.

The Indian government has done great work with the Atal Innovation Mission and Atal Tinkering labs which have focussed on grants to educational institutions, however, to accelerate commercialization, they need to partner with private for-profit incubators and accelerators.

My budget wish list includes the following 3 major reforms that will ease the flow of capital to start-ups, these are :

1.    Tax Incentives

Countries like Israel, China and the UK provide incentives for money to be invested in start-ups by making some or all the invested capital tax deductible to a certain limit.
Along the same lines, the government can encourage broader equity participation by removing capital gains on exercising ESOP’s.
The Angel tax must go or should only be applicable to start-ups over a certain valuation (say $10 million) - investing in start-ups is not like real estate where there is a circle rate!

2.    Allow Equity Crowdfunding

I am sure all of us have heard of Kickstarter which since 2009 has seen 14 million people contribute $3.5 billion to 130,000 projects. However, equity crowdfunding is banned in India. In a press release issued on August 30, 2016, SEBI found that: “ The electronic platforms are allegedly facilitating investment in the form of private placement with companies, as the offer is open to all the investors registered with the platform amounting to a contravention of the provisions of Securities Contract (Regulation) Act, 1956 (SCRA) and the Companies Act, 2013.”

We can learn by the example of the US or Italy, which was one of the first jurisdictions to pass a comprehensive regulation on equity crowdfunding. Italy specifically allows for crowdfunding to support the development of “innovative start-up companies”.

SEBI has issued draft guidelines in April 2017 and I hope that is passed into law this budget.

3.    Establish a Small Business Bank

Any entrepreneur will tell you that it is impossible to get credit for working capital. If you are working without a salary, you can’t get a personal loan. If an entrepreneur turns to a microfinance organization, the real interest rates can be as high as 24%. On the other side of the spectrum, venture debt providers look for large ticket sizes.

The problem is - Who is giving a small start-up 25 lakhs for working capital today? That is the unserved market.

The government has announced a loan program, but unlike the US where the loan process takes a week, the implementation is a challenge. It would be great if the government looked at the US, which has established the SBA. The Small Business Administration ( SBA ) is a United States government agency that provides support to entrepreneurs and small businesses by making loans through banks, credit unions and other lenders who partner with the SBA. They have an excellent microloan program where loans less than $25,000 require no collateral and they offer credit guarantee for loans up to $5 million.

I can go on and write a long wish list of demands that various startups and entrepreneurs want. If the government can waive off 100,000 crores of farmers’ loans, why not contribute 10,000 cr to an SBA type program? If the government is listening, just implementing the broad points above will go a long way in providing capital to fuel a billion dreams!

** Disclaimer: Views expressed are in personal capacity, not the official stance of Mumbai Angels Network

What Angel Investors Value Most When Choosing What to Fund

Regardless of all the attention and recognition venture capitalist gets, its far from the most common source of startup funding. Angel Investors - affluent investors who invest small amounts of capital, make their investment decisions quickly, and rarely require a board seat as a condition of investment. This makes them an attractive funding option for startups that don't need large investments and want to retain more control over their an earlier stage than VCs do — fund more than 16 times as many companies as VCs do, “and their share is growing.”

Yet for how substantial the market is, there's relatively little data on the decision making process of those who invest in early stage startups. As a result, we're stuck with the question of how investors choose which startups to fund. It's hard to predict whether a novel idea will succeed, and these fledgling firms typically have no financial track record or tangible assets.


“Whenever an angel investor receives a business plan, he would always read the resume section first”. Not because the people part of the new venture is the most important, but because without the right team, none of the other parts really matters.Three-quarters of survey respondents said the management team of a startup was their biggest consideration for investing. “This suggests that a startup’s human capital is uniquely important to potential investors.”


Many choose not to invest in specific businesses due to their inability to grasp their technology efficiently. "The easier we make it for angel investors to discover, evaluate and participate in science and technology startups, the more we'll see money going into these worthy companies and the benefits to humanity accrue,"


49% percent ranked potential ROI as their top motivator for making an investment decision. While some investors are indeed looking for financial compensation, not all are primarily interested in just the money. Some want a different kind of return: The ability to solve the world's biggest challenges through the businesses they fund. Nearly one-third of angels will choose to invest in a company based on its connection to important social issues.

Perhaps the best angel investment you could make is choosing the right company to work for. The value of the options associated with a successful company will swamp the return on any angel investment you are likely to make, even if you do happen to have a success.

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Spoofin raises funding from Mumbai Angels Network

Spoofin is a video-based social network that allows it’s users to create and share hilarious parody videos. The app allows users to interact and manipulate video content by way of an intuitive creator’s studio, equipped with video editing, voice-over and audio imposing capabilities. The launch of their MVP in the international markets is scheduled early 2018.

Jatin Aneja,Deal Lead, Mumbai Angels Network & Partner at Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas

"Spoofin” is a strong product that presents an exciting opportunity to create a new and original social media network/community where the user can create, consume and share comic video content in an entirely fresh perspective. As a Deal Lead of Spoofin, I see this as an interesting investment opportunity with exponential returns upon gaining scale in a thriving yet uncluttered market. I would be helping & mentoring the company to grow.

Siddhant Sahni, Co-Founder, Spoofin

“The Mumbai Angels Network has been an instrumental part of our seed round journey. The network is teaming with investors who actively mentor and participate in the  progress of the startups, which was exactly what we were looking for. The introductions and networking opportunities afforded to us have been foundational to the successful close of our round"

About Mumbai Angels Network: 

Mumbai Angels Network ( is India’s leading angel investing & mentoring network with 250+ members across four active chapters - Mumbai, Pune, Delhi and Bangalore. Their portfolio comprises of 90+ ventures across multiple sectors focused primarily on seed and early stage companies.

Thursday, 18 January 2018

Calcutta Angels Network & Mumbai Angels network are now partners!

Calcutta Angels Network(CAN) and Mumbai Angels Network (MAN) announced a partnership today where both Angel Networks  will  be working together as a single team to bring the best, curated deals to their member base, faster deal closures with their combined strength, standardized deal closure framework and active management of the investment portfolio.

“Our partnership with Mumbai Angels Network will ensure our members get access to the best-in-class startups from across the country. We are also looking forward to extending the full membership experience that being a part of a larger network offers, including investing best practices, learning sessions, active portfolio management and active pitching of our invested portfolio to the next level investors. We are excited to partner with MAN in this first of its kind partnership in the country” said Calcutta Angels Network

“We are excited to partner with Calcutta Angels in Eastern India. With our nationwide reach of 4 chapters (Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore and Pune) Mumbai Angels Network has the first access to the best start-ups in the country. With our innovative, process driven investing, we are able to steer the entire investment process smoothly right from curating deals, deal negotiations, deal documentations to actively managing the invested portfolio and working closely with the next level investors for exits. We are honoured to be associated with Calcutta Angels as a partner to bring the same rigour and innovation in angel investing to their member-base” Nandini Mansinghka, Chairperson, Mumbai Angels Network.

About Mumbai Angels Network: 
Mumbai Angels Network ( is India’s leading angel investing & mentoring network with 250+ members across four active chapters - Mumbai, Pune, Delhi, and Bangalore. Their portfolio comprises of 90+ ventures across multiple sectors focused primarily on seed and early stage companies.

About Calcutta Angels Network: 
Calcutta Angels Network ( started out in 2013 and prides itself for being the first angel investment network in eastern India. With a membership strength of 75 they have investments in 21 startups from across India. Their investments are stage and sector agnostic.

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

WeDoSky, Drone Data Science, solutions raises funds from Mumbai Angels Network

WeDoSky, Drone Data Science, solutions raises funds from Mumbai Angels Network
Higher in resolution than Google Earth/Maps and updated as often as daily, WeDoSky’s Drone Data Science solutions help answer the 'What' and the 'Where' for a geographical area that needs to be monitored.
WeDoSky™ is a data science company focused on generating actionable business insights using drone imagery, to assist various industries like mining, construction, energy & solar. The data extraction and analysis is done using their proprietary software ‘visualAI’™. This is also offered as a standalone SaaS platform for Drone-enabled businesses across the globe. According to PricewaterhouseCoopers, Drone data for business intelligence is a $127 bn opportunity

 WeDoSky™ counts titans like Adani Enterprises, Tata Power, Azure Power, and ACC Cement amongst its many clients. The company was established in August 2014 when the founder, Jaspreet, thought of commercializing his passion in robotics and drone building. Noting the tremendous need for drone-based data in multiple industries, the team developed the software for improved project management. Reports laud the company’s solutions to be 72x faster than conventional survey technologies as it has a million+ data points with ground resolutions much higher than anything else currently available in the market.

WeDoSky™ has now raised its first round of investment from Mumbai Angels Network, after bootstrapping for over 2 years. The funds will be used for the global expansion of ‘visualAI’™ and to integrate solutions for agriculture, infrastructure, and insurance industries after successfully assisting leading organizations in India.

Jaspreet Makkar, Founder, WeDoSky™ has been featured in "Forbes 30 under 30" under Enterprise Technology category.
Ishan Singh, Deal Lead, Mumbai Angels Network said I was impressed when I met Jaspreet in Jan 2017 and the business potential of the model was evident. After tracking his progress over the past few months, I am glad to lead the investment in this high potential company in a high growth industry. I further look forward to
welcoming the team at RevStart, the Co-Working, Incubation and Acceleration centre where I’d be able to personally oversee their growth, mentor them to achieve key milestones, along with helping the startup better market and promote its undertakings. With a strong team in place, I am positive that WeDoSky is set it to scale heights."
Jaspreet Makkar, Founder, WeDoSky, said “We are excited to be associating with leaders like Ishan Singh and Mumbai Angels Network to catapult WeDoSky's growth.. We are glad to be providing services that can eradicate inefficiency from growing sectors of Data Science and Drone imagery. We are charged to be the front-runners in initiating a change from experience driven decision making to data driven decisions“.
About Mumbai Angels Venture Mentors:
Mumbai Angels Network ( is one of India’s largest angel  investing & mentoring networks with 250+ members across four active chapters - Mumbai, Pune, Delhi and Bangalore. Their portfolio comprises of 90+ ventures across multiple sectors focused primarily on seed and early stage companies.

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Ishan Singh, Member, Mumbai Angels Network in conversation with Sachin Karnik, President Mumbai Angels Network

Sachin Karnik :

1) Hello Ishan, Thanks for taking the time out for this Interview. You have been a Mumbai Angels Network Member for a long time and known to be a practical, tough yet reasonable , hands-on Deal Lead.Your questions during the showcase indicate the studiousness with which you approach a domain.  How has your journey been so far ?

Ishan Singh:
Hi! Sachin, Good to meet you in this forum.  I have been in this eco system for 20 years and today is as exciting as the time 20 years ago when I started my first business in 1997 in New York.

Let me share a story with you- in 1995 in my MBA entrepreneurship class I got on of the lowest grades in- partially as my profession thought ecommerce was not sustainable, but also as he righty pointed out that I had not thought through the cost of logistics and delivery. This is still the issue, so many entrepreneurs do not factor in while starting a business. 

I started a Fin tech consulting firm in New York in 1998 – that same year I invested $100,000 from profits in an online ticketing and event management firm set up by someone who worked for me and I assumed the role of interim CEO to help them raise $1m at $5m post money valuation.  Unfortunately, that company flatlined due to internal management issues that came up once the market tanked in 2000.  This was a very powerful lesson for me.

More recently, since 2015, of the 9 angel investmentsI have made, 7 are doing well and these are the ones where I was took interest in what was going on - with what the founders were doing, they key client wins, tactics being used to grow the business, plan Vs. Actual etc.This has taught me that there is a need to work closely with first time founders. 

That is why they come to seasoned investors/ business people like me to be investors & mentors. We look at the forest, not the trees and that is the value add we bring to the table.

Sachin Karnik :

2) I am sure the readers will be curious to know about the Turn-Around and growth Strategies you have recommended to Start-ups you have been a Deal Lead and Board Rep for.

Ishan Singh:

Well, hopefully we don’t need to come to a turnaround stage!

It is most important that a start-uprealises what problem they are solving and is it a problem that needs to be solved- will people pay for it- one needs to be able to demonstrate traction and revenue for that idea/ business. 

People often forget the goal at this stage of the business - it is to demonstrate that the business model is viable so that they can raise another round for expansion later.  So, focus is very important.  

Sachin Karnik :

3) Has the experience of working so closely with the Founders been enriching and rewarding for you?

Ishan Singh:

Yes, I has I love the enthusiasm and passion entrepreneurs bring to the table. Working with several at the same time allows me to leverage key learning from one to the other and this helps problem solve better – for examples best practices in social media marketing

Sachin Karnik :

4) Did interaction with other MA members help especially when Founders feel having too many Angel Investors on Cap Table is a tough act to manage?

Ishan Singh:

Sachin, the way MA invests, there is only one or two people on the board, so from the founder’s perspective he has the whole network to help, but he/ she is only interacting with one or two people daily.   So, it is not tough to manage

Sachin Karnik :

5) What kind of Start-ups or sectors will catch your attention and Investment dollars in 2018. Would you like to share a sneak preview of your investment thesis for 2018?

Ishan Singh:

My primary investment thesis remains the same. – I am looking for someone honest, sincere, and intelligent who is willing to work hard and is solving a problem.   I firmly believe, especially in the Indian context, execution is the key.

I do believe in Thematic investing- for example the investment in WE DO Sky which is a data sciencecompanyusingdrone’s is a great example of a sector with a great future.  

This year, I want to look atsustainability and use of sustainable materials in everyday use- constriction and fashion and at low cost medical devices for rural / home markets.

Sachin Karnik :

6) Any word of advice for fellow Angel Investors and Founders?

Ishan Singh:

Dream big, but keep it simple.  Keep it real and walk before you run.