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BW Businessworld

Giving A Push To The Startup Cycle

‘I look for entrepreneurs that are actually solving real problems through products and innovation’

Photo Credit : Umesh Goswami


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.”