Startups

[Startup Bharat] For entrepreneurs in Tier II-III cities, access to funding is a common challenge. Startup Odisha wants to fix that

Read more at yourstory.com

Keen to make Odisha a top startup hub, the government of Odisha launched the Startup Odisha initiative, which aims to promote strategic partnerships, investment, and policy interventions to create a conducive entrepreneurial ecosystem. 

Startup Odisha has now started Fund-Stack to help Odisha-based startups raise funding and investment, and access mentorship

Sanjukta Badhai, Lead, Startup Odisha, reveals that the initiative, which has more than 1,000 registered startups, aims to help startups get better acquainted with investors via the Fund-Stack platform. 

Before joining Startup Odisha in 2021, Sanjukta has worked in various capacities at KIIT-TBI for the last 12 years. As COO at KIITTBI, she was leading incubator operations, fund management, and startup mentoring processes, ensuring quality deliverables. During her tenure, she helped position the incubator as one of the top ones in the country. 

Sanjukta earlier worked with NCERT, New Delhi, and WNS, India office. She is a doctoral candidate at Ravenshaw University, Cuttack, and received her master’s degree and an MPhil in life sciences from Sambalpur University.

In conversation with YourStory, Sanjukta speaks about what Fund-Stack aims to do, how startups can benefit from the programme, and their plans for the future.

Edited excerpts from the interview:

YourStory (YS): Tell us about Fund-Stack. What is the idea behind it?

Sanjukta Badhai (SB): Fund-Stack aims to connect investors with startups looking to raise funds to grow and scale their businesses. 

Startup Odisha has more than 1,000 registered startups and the Fund-Stack platform will provide them with an extraordinary opportunity to get acquainted with the funding ecosystem and get an idea of the steps that they should follow before looking for funds. 

Participating startups will receive curated guidance on pitch perfection, investor readiness, legal compliance documentation, and other necessary due diligence.

The startups will get a chance to connect and interact with 21 investors from 20 angel networks and VCs.

YS: What are the main aims and what challenges do you aim to solve? 

SB: Fund-Stack aims to provide a helping hand to every startup from Odisha that is looking to raise funds and grow. Best-in-class mentoring will also be provided by renowned investment leads, experts, angel investors, and VCs. 

All these sessions will prove beneficial in providing essential knowledge on the funding ecosystem and business growth that will help to shape a startup and increase its chances of success. Investor feedback is crucial for startups to improve their business models and take discussions on their funding requirements forward.

YS: How can startups benefit? 

SB: Fund-Stack provides a platform for several new startups to learn several skills for growing and scaling their businesses.

The sessions will disseminate a wide range of appropriate information on how the funding ecosystem works, and the ways a new startup can attract investors. 

Startup Odisha plans to attract investors to invest in Odisha-based startups. Apart from investment opportunities, such a platform also bring intangible value-add to start-ups by opening up connections for networking and market access, and offering strategic and operational guidance. These are necessary for startups to achieve accelerated growth. 

Startups who can apply must:

  • Be registered with Startup Odisha or Startup India
  • Have a presence/operations in Odisha
  • Have a viable product/ service and get early traction from the market 

We are looking for startups interested to raise private funding in the category of:

  • Seed (up to Rs 25 lakh)
  • Pre-series (Rs 1 crore to Rs 3 crore)
  • Series A (Rs 5 crore to Rs 15 crore) 

YS: What are the criteria for startup selection?

SB: This programme includes 21 knowledge sessions on fundraising with nearly 21 renowned investors from different angel networks and VC firms.

Participating startups are required to attend all sessions to learn the art of pitching and understand the basics of funding from investors. They need to be prepared for the first master pitch before acquiring a connecting platform with the right investors.

YS: What are the key things startups must keep in mind while applying? 

SB: Interested startups must prepare a few necessary submissions: a proper business plan, and a clear description of the idea and its uniqueness (in terms of innovation and commercialisation). They must be ready to undergo due diligence for shared data and prepared to work out their investment structure clearly during knowledge sessions. 

After 21 investor sessions, the top 10 ideas will be selected by Startup Odisha. These will pitch to investors at the final demo day in association with Carve Startup Lab and AIC – Nalanda.

YS: What do you get out of this process? Do you have an equity sharing model? 

SB: This process will not only provide several investment opportunities for new startups to flourish, but also enhance the economic development of the nation. 

Several investors like Indian Angel Network, Unicorn Ventures, Lead Angels, Mumbai Angels, Venture Catalysts, Chennai Angels, Social Alpha, Ekcle Ventures, Modular Capital, Ankur Capital, Orios Ventures, Lets Venture, 100x VC, Bharat Innovation Fund, Inventus Capital India, Ideaspring Capital, Eagle10 Ventures, IvyCap Ventures, Alfa Ventures, and Kolkata Ventures are participating to invest in a progressive and successful startup, with plans and strategies to conquer the market. 

We don’t have an equity sharing model as of now, but the follow-on deals with investors will have their own structured models.

YS: What are your future plans?

SB: The future plans of Fund-Stack and Startup Odisha are aligned, and focus on the development of innovation and entrepreneurship in the state. A Fund of Funds of Rs 100 crore has been notified by the Government of Odisha to strengthen the ecosystem in the state and provide scaleup capital to Odisha-based startups. 

This is expected to attract investment from various angel investors and private venture capital firms for Odisha-based startups.

The state at present offers a monthly grant of Rs 20,000 and Rs 15 lakh for product development and marketing to nascent startups. More than 17 incubators have been set up to support startups. 

Edited by Teja Lele Desai

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