Bengaluru: Startups in boom town beckon big guns

Perhaps this is what attracts investors to Bengaluru. And for those who already have a city connect, investing in startups comes naturally.
Image used for representational purpose only
Image used for representational purpose only

BENGALURU: It’s no secret that Bengaluru is the country’s startup capital. With a 25 per cent share of the total startups across the country, the city is home to a vibrant tech ecosystem, but also has its fair share of non-tech entrepreneurs looking to make their company the next Unicorn.

Perhaps this is what attracts investors to Bengaluru. And for those who already have a city connect, investing in startups comes naturally.

Investors from the city, more popular on screen than in boardrooms, include actor Dino Morea, and VJ Nikhil Chinapa, both of whom invested in a city-based startup Vebbler, a photo-sharing app. Bengaluru girl actor Deepika Padukone, through her firm KA Enterprises, is the latest in a series of investors from the state, who are not from the tech industry. On Monday, she announced an investment in Drums Food, that sells Epigamia yoghurt. However, this is not her first investment or venture into entrepreneurship.

Noted singer Shankar Mahadevan, while originally from Chennai, launched an online singing academy based in Bengaluru way back in 2010.  Actor Hrithik Roshan also invested around Rs 6 crore in city-based fitness startup last year. Tennis star Mahesh Bhupathi has invested in Sports365, a sports-based e-commerce startup headquartered in the city. Director Shekhar Kapur and music maestro AR Rahman, in 2012, launched a social media platform in the city called Qyuki. Actor Saumya Tandon in 2016, invested in auto-rickshaw aggregator, Jugnoo, based in HSR Layout.

So what is it that drives investors to the city? While an IT background is preferred, it is not necessary. The sheer number of startups looking for investors makes it a very exciting market to invest in, for those who have the money. According to NASSCOM, Bengaluru ranks among the top three cities globally for launch of tech startups. 

“A high density of entrepreneurs and investors attracts budding entrepreneurs,” NASSCOM said in a 2018 report titled ‘Indian Tech Startup Ecosystem-Approaching Escape Velocity by NASSCOM and Zinnov’.

“We see 3000 startups visit us every year for funding. 1,200 startups come up in the city every year and there are a total of around 7000 startups,” said Aarin Capital co-founder TV Mohandas Pai. “There is a very large tech community, there are new innovation and new companies,” it is very exciting, he said.  But it is not only tech that rules the market. NASSCOM figures peg consumer-focused startups as generating the highest share of investment amounts last year. Specifically, travel and marketplace based startups grabbed 24% of the investments in startups in Bengaluru in 2018, the report says.

This perhaps is what drives the ‘celebrity’ investors. “They hear and they see, they read news articles on these companies and want to invest in it hoping for big returns. There are so many stories of millions being made from Unicorns (A privately held startup company valued at over $1 billion), they also want to participate, hopeful of getting returns,” said Kris Gopalakrishnan, Chairman Axilor Ventures, an early-stage startup accelerator and venture fund.  And if you have a keen business acumen to match your desire to invest, it is not a risky proposition after all.

Some prominent investors from state

VJ Nikhil Chinappa, actor Dino Morea, actor Deepika Padukone, actor Suniel Shetty, actor Shilpa Shetty Kundra, singer Shankar Mahadevan

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