India Gets Its Own Student Startup VC – gradCapital

Graduates from BITS & IIMA launch a $1mn fund to support and invest in startups founded by college students

Bengaluru based gradCapital announces the launch of its pan-India student-focused VC, designed to help college graduates grow their exciting ideas into businesses. gradCapital will invest $25,000 in each of the 20 start-ups they select over the next year. gradCapital is also being supported by CIIE.CO - The Innovation Continuum, based out of IIM Ahmedabad.

gradCapital will host an eight-week, intensive program for companies founded and run by college students. The program will provide a layout conducive to the context of students to make sure they are all set to raise their subsequent funding round. Apart from building a strong and sustainable structure for their company, these young entrepreneurs will leave with countless tools, crucial knowledge, a network of peers, mentors and investors, and funding of $25,000.

Each of the eight weeks that gradCapital’s cohort will be part of will feature weekly keynotes, 1:1 mentorship, office hours with experts and, in the end, an investor-focused demo day. They aim to bring out the next generation of unicorns started by founders out of colleges. gradCapital plans to invest in 100 startups in the next three years.

Built and run by Abhishek Sethi and Prateek Behera – both graduates from IIM-A and BITS Pilani, respectively, have now opened the application process for its first cohort of start-ups.

The objective isn’t merely to find some companies and give them a lift, “We genuinely believe in academic spaces. Think historically, major societal transformations have emerged from university campuses. The LGBTQ+ movement, the microprocessor that runs our phones, or immunotherapy for Cancer - all have their roots in just one college campus. Students have been at the origins of these radical ideas. And our vision is to cultivate these academic spaces. Entrepreneurship is a way to bring such strong ideas to life and create value for society. We are betting on such ideas. With this mission, we help students build the companies of the future.” said Abhishek Sethi, Co-Founder at gradCapital.

While conceptualising the idea of gradCapital, Abhishek and Prateek successfully ran a pilot to test their hypothesis. They ended up with a thriving cohort of eight companies, including KiranaKart, Humit, Codedamn, Valerio Electric, and Neuralastic.

According to Prateek Behera, Co-Founder at gradCapital, “There is tremendous value waiting to be unlocked by students from Science, Commerce, Arts, and Engineering colleges. VCs do not take these bets because it doesn’t fit their risk profile. Students even feel disconnected from them - think about a quantum computer or a social music app. These companies often are missed by larger VCs due to a gap in the understanding of emerging technologies, millennial consumers or new kinds of economies.”

In order to identify start-ups, gradCapital has hired associates across the country and decentralised its operations. They have also partnered with student communities across campuses to scout for the best hustling talent out there.

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