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Indian `Band of Angels' keen to fund start-ups

Anil Sasi
Preeti Mehra

New Delhi , Dec. 14

IT'S an Indian version of the `Band of Angels' and they are here to do exactly what their illustrious namesakes in the US have, with immense success, been doing in funding Silicon Valley start-ups.

The Indian version of the `Band of Angels', which commenced operations just a few months ago, is a loose conglomerate of first-time, successful entrepreneurs, several of whom are The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE) charter members. Among them is Xansa India chairman, Mr Saurabh Srivastava, who is also part of the Indian Venture Capital Association; Barings Private Equity Partners' Mr Alok Mittal; Silicon Valley entrepreneur Mr Sanjay Bhargava, Vertex India's CEO and Head of Offshoring, Mr Dan Sandhu, and Scicom Infotech Director, Mr Mohit Goyal.

Aware of what it feels like to have an great idea, but not the resources to make it bloom, the `Band of Angels' is keen to fund fledglings at the boot strapping stage to the tune of Rs 50 lakh to Rs 2 crore, till the time the project is ripe enough to attract venture capital funds.

Known as `angel funding' in the US, the concept in India is almost on the same lines. The entrepreneurs invest in their individual capacity, with each pitching in a small amount for the project they feel has the potential for good returns.

"It's not altruistic, the basic hypothesis is that the project will create wealth in the future," said Mr Sanjay Bhargava, who has come back to the country from the Silicon Valley.

The projects are chosen on the basis of an executive summary provided by the potential entrepreneur. If it interests members of the `Band of Angels', it is shortlisted for a presentation that is made directly to the members. The ones who take to the project commit a certain amount of funding. "The group is still evolving, in about six months time it will get more formalised,'' says Mr Bhargava.

The original `Band of Angels' is one of Silicon Valley's oldest organisations dedicated to funding and advising seed stage start-ups. The band consists of 100 odd former and current hi-tech executives who are investing in new business ideas.

The Band members, who have founded companies such as Symantec, Logitech, and National Semiconductor, meet monthly to formally consider three projects which are selected from among over 50 that are considered every month by the Band Deal Selection Process.

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