The Venture That Is Unicorn India (Part 1)

In a subcontinent of VCs galore, one strives to stand out like the fantastical equestrian it has named itself after. This is Unicorn India Ventures and they are actively looking for startups to fund.

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In the words of Bhaskar Majumdar, managing partner of Unicorn India Ventures:

1. Tell us 5 things we don’t know about Unicorn India Ventures

One of the founders, Anil Joshi was former president of Mumbai Angels.

Anil has been directly involved in over 60 deals, over a 100 if you count all deals.

I, Bhaskar Majumdar (aka the other founder) have invested in 6 ventures in media tech, energy broking, a beauty social network, and an edtech startup.

I, (Bhaskar) successfully exited my first venture involving a US systems integrator giving multiple returns to the investor.

2. How many years have you and Anil been active investors?

Anil – for 10 years
Bhaskar – for 15 years;10 as an entrepreneur and 5 as an investor

Anil and I (Bhaskar) met, saw that everything from our skills and personality to experience were complementary, saw the startup India scene picking up steam so we decided to launch Unicorn India Ventures in 2015.

3. Areas/sectors of interest to invest in?

We as a fund are looking at hardware projects with cloud-based back-end.

Appealing categories are: Consumer Internet; hardware related cloud platforms; SaaS businesses; media tech; fintech

Unicorn has announced six investments so far – Roder, VanityCube, Inc42, Pharmarack, Grab-on-Rent, NeuroEquilibrium.

4. Size of fund?

Rupees 100 crores

5. Notable startups invested in and/or mentored?

VanityCube: An on demand beauty at your doorstep service.

Inc42: A media company in the startup ecosystem.

Pharmarack: B2B SaaS tech platform for pharma companies, distributors and retailers to automate their supply chains.

NeuroEquilibrium: developer of diagnostic systems for patients suffering from vertigo, dizziness and imbalance.

GrabonRent: rental platform for both consumers and corporates.

6. What startups have you been pleasantly surprised by?

That has to be VanityCube.

We have been surprised by turnaround and scale achieved by these guys. They operate in a crowded market of home salons and saw over fifteen players mushrooming up with a span of six months.

Despite all the mad rush to be acquired by a bigger guy, VanityCube kept aside the lure of exit and built the business with passion and quality.

Our kudos to the founders for being focused on the business and customers and not on the market.

7. And startups not so pleasantly surprised by?

That would be any startup whose business model is highly dependent on cash burn for customer acquisition.

8. What’s the next big trend you think will hit the Indian startup ecosystem?

It’s already happening. We are extremely bullish on fintech – in areas like loans disbursement, solution discovery, cyber security, robo-advisory and digital payments.

9. What one big thing must Indian startups do to become sustainable?

Have a distinct path to profitability. And that means no negative unit economics, no over dependence on investor money.

Also, please pick a market large enough to grow beyond a niche.

10. The best way to exit a startup is:

a. To be acquired
b. IPO

Our present thinking is we would stay invested in our B2B portfolio as long as the companies grow and eventually achieve a trade sale*.

On our B2C portfolio, we would look to secondary sales** at the right time.

*Trade sale: When an investor exists a startup by selling his stake to a 3rd party usually another company operating in the same vertical.

**Secondary sale: when investor exits by selling his stake to another fund or PE thereby getting an immediate exit from the startup.

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