Giving A Push To The Startup Cycle
‘I look for entrepreneurs that are actually solving real problems through products and innovation’
Armed with a B.Tech from IIT Mumbai, Abhijeet Kumar is the co-founder of ah! Ventures, a Mumbai-based early-stage fund-raising platform with 55,000-plus entrepreneurs, 2,000-plus investors, Rs 130-plus crore invested in 35 startups and three profitable exits. Previously he worked with Deloitte Consulting as an Associate Consultant before moving on to found his own company, Pronto Infotech, in the ITeS space. Here, Kumar faced and overcame the challenges that come with setting up an enterprise, and in the last 10 years, has created a successful venture with a multi-crore revenue stream.
Founded in 2010, ah! Ventures has systematically disrupted India’s early stage funding ecosystem through its innovative approach toward startup investing. First of its kind initiatives such as the Club ah! Network & Platform, a full-spectrum startup investment network and platform; ah! Angels, an angel network; ah! Seeders and ah! VC networks, a seed and VC investment networks, respectively, have brought together and integrated the otherwise previously segregated startup funding lifecycle, under one roof. This, coupled with ah! Impact network, an impact investment network for investing in social enterprises; ah! Mentors network, a mentor network to assist startups in their growth and expansion; ah! Marketplace, first and only one-stop shop for accredited startup service providers; ah! Gyan Guru, a startup focused edu-knowledge platform; STARup, a startup summit poised to be the biggest and the best in India, SMARTup, a series of round table knowledge sharing and networking events across multiple cities; High Tables, a platform to raise $1-10 million growth fund; Swag Hunt, a nationwide search for India’s 10 most happening startup companies, has today made ah! Ventures not just one of India’s most respected change leaders, but also a formidable industry force to recon with.
ah! has also launched its mobile app (on iOS and Android app stores) to cater to the ever growing startup ecosystem. They have backed startups such as OckyPocky, FreightBazaar, Intellitaap, Chefow, Corefactors, Aha Taxi and Shirsa Labs this year.
Also, ah! Ventures’ focus is slowly shifting to non-Internet companies as they see higher returns in that sector. The platform hopes to get more foreign investors on board as they are open to more high-risk-high-return investments.
Kumar says that the right time for approaching an investor is when you need money for expansion. Funding should be ideally raised only to expand the business, not for supporting current operations cost. He would like to invest in a company, where the focus is on robust product development with strong processes and customer service in long run. Kumar believes that business model, team and traction are the three major points that determine the future of a startup.
Another interesting thing about ah! Ventures is that their entire team is made up of serial entrepreneurs who have either started successful ventures or really experienced businessman.
Speaking on being included in the BW 40 Under 40, Kumar says, “BW is one of India’s most respected business commentators and recognition from such an elite publication is an honour. I have never seriously looked at or sought awards and accolades and that makes it even more special.”
Kumar also conveyed a message for young business leaders and said, “The only thing I would want young entrepreneurs to do is focus on creating real value for real problems that we face within our own paradigm on a day-to-day basis. I look for entrepreneurs that are actually solving real problems through products and innovation and not just copying business models and products innovated in other markets.
We have a 15- to 20-year window as Indians to create our niche and impact on global markets and we will not do that without significant original thinking, guts and gumption.”