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Funding Surge Fuels Startup Growth

Bengaluru-based startups led the funding with 14 deals, followed by Delhi-NCR with three deals….reports Asian Lite News

The Indian startups continued to raise funds at a normal pace, and last week, 22 startups secured over $447 million in the country.

This included nine growth-stage deals and 11 early-stage deals, reports Entrackr.

“Two startups kept their transaction details undisclosed,” the report mentioned.

About 30 startups had raised around $287 million, which included 20 early-stage and six growth-stage companies in the week of March 11-16.

Bengaluru-based startups led the funding with 14 deals, followed by Delhi-NCR with three deals.

Among the growth-stage deals, nine startups raised $420.35 million in funding last week.

Healthtech firm Engrail secured the highest funding at $157 million. Following closely behind were the audio series platform Pocket FM, healthtech startup Ultrahuman, and content-to-commerce company The Good Glamm Group, which received $103 million, $35 million, and $30 million in funding, respectively.

Additionally, Atlan, a data collaboration software provider, Curefood, a cloud kitchen startup, Jumbotail, a B2B marketplace and retail platform, Dvara KGFS, an NBFC operating in remote rural areas, and SubKo Coffee, a coffee brand, also successfully raised funds last week.

Moreover, 11 early-stage startups collectively secured $27 million in funding.

Optimo Loan, an MSME-focused lending-tech startup, led the pack, followed by gaming startup Liquidnitro, boutique hotels firm Brij Hotels, and climate tech platform Sprih.

India’s startup ecosystem is on a journey of unprecedented innovation and growth and the rise of entrepreneurs from tier-2 and 3 cities are shining examples of how inclusive growth can lead to sustainable development, industry experts said on Thursday, as the three-day ‘Viksit Bharat Startup Mahakumbh 2024’ concluded in the Capital.

The country’s biggest celebration of startups saw 1,306 exhibitors, more than 165 sessions, over 392 speakers, and more than 48,581 business visitors.

Furthermore, the event was the centre-stage for more than 3,868 future entrepreneurs, coming together to interact with investors, and entrepreneurs, along with industry experts via masterclasses and foster collaboration.

“Over the course of 10 years, we’ve witnessed a transformation from a few hundred startups to a vibrant ecosystem of over 100,000 startups, fostering a remarkable increase in incubators, unicorns, and a thriving digital economy,” said Arvind Gupta, Head and Co-Founder, Digital India Foundation.

“Our startups are global pioneers, leveraging technology to solve complex challenges, ensuring India’s position as a leader on the world stage,” he added.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that India will become the world leader in AI with its young innovators emerging as a driving force to take the nation ahead.

Addressing the ‘Startup Mahakumbh’, the Prime Minister said, “India will have the upper hand in AI and we will not let the opportunity go.”

From insightful keynote speeches to interactive workshops, Startup Mahakumbh offered a dynamic platform for attendees to exchange ideas, forge partnerships, and gain invaluable insights from seasoned professionals.

“Witnessing over 3,800 future entrepreneurs come together at Startup Mahakumbh was truly inspiring,” said Madan Padaki, President, TiE Bangalore & Trustee, TiE Global.

“It was great to see many budding and ambitious agritech entrepreneurs aiming to improve the livelihoods of our farmers,” added Vineet Rai, Founder and Chairman, Aavishkaar Group.

Vidhya Ananthkrishnan, Chief Of Staff, Accel, said that they witnessed an incredible convergence of ideas, expertise, and opportunities within the B2B pavilion at ‘Startup Mahakumbh.’

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Entrepreneurs Praise PM Modi, Startup India

The founders of startups credited Prime Minister Narendra Modi for inspiring them to push their ideas into genuine businesses…reports Asian Lite News

Startup Mahakumbh, a first-of-its-kind event that brought together the entire startup ecosystem of India, including startups, investors, incubators, accelerators and industry leaders spanning several sectors concluded on Wednesday in the national capital.

Led by the efforts of ASSOCHAM, nasscom, Bootstrap Incubation & Advisory Foundation, TiE and Indian Venture and Alternate Capital Association (IVCA), the event had sector-focused pavilions, which showcased the country’s most innovative startups.

The founders of startups credited Prime Minister Narendra Modi for inspiring them to push their ideas into genuine businesses.

Aman Porwal the founder of Indore-based Momskart said, “Momskart is an online marketplace that digitalises Indian women entrepreneurs without any investment. Here at the Startup Mahakumbh, we interacted with PM Modi today and we got a very good vibe that ‘Startup India’ is doing a lot for the start-ups in India…”

The event also hosted a Future Entrepreneurs Day on March 20, with a focus on cultivating entrepreneurial spirit among students. The Future Entrepreneurs Day gathered close to 5,000 individuals handpicked by colleges and incubators nationwide for their inclination towards entrepreneurship.

“I work as a startup mentor and I visit colleges and motivate students and guide them in their journey. By taking inspiration from PM Modi, I started my journey around 2016-17. In the last five years, I have met over 3 lakh students…,” Chairman of International Business Startup and Entrepreneurs Association, Anshumaan Singh said.

With the central theme ‘Bharat Innovates,’ the event also featured mentorship clinics, pitch competitions, and a multi-track conference featuring leadership talks, panel discussions, workshops, and a host of exciting activities for startups as well as future entrepreneurs.

Founder of PIGPT, Siddharth said, “We have worked in the sector of Deep Tech. Today’s session with PM Modi was very inspiring. Under the recently launched India AI Mission, we have launched our own AI-powered answer engine. This is India’s first answer engine that is dedicated to the aspirants…”

“We are developing a D2C consumer-based platform, connecting customers with small laundry owners. We are providing a platform through which we do the supply chain and logistics. If you place an order from your home, we do pickup and delivery, we are trying to help small marginalized laundry owners, living in our society, so that we can empower them, increase their revenue as well as increase profitability. In the last 14 months, we have processed 1,300 orders…,”entrepreneur Vaibhavraj Pandey from Gujarat said.

Startup Mahakumbh enabled connecting startups with a spectrum of inventors such as venture capitalists, angel investors, family offices, and High Net worth Individuals- as well as potential corporate partners.

Founder of Ayurvedic Sutra, Neha Bansal said, “As PM Modi said today startups in the field of Ayurveda are growing a lot and there is immense support from the government in getting good funding…The government has provided a very good platform and startups are growing very well…”

“YouVah is the first internship platform for teenagers… Over 2 lakh students and 300 schools are on our platform. Students can take internships and training on different skills. We are the first mover in the country to implement New Education Policy” Founder of YouVah, Rohit Jain said.

Startup Mahakumbh with a tagline ‘Bharat Innovates’ encapsulated India’s commitment to showcasing innovations from every corner of the country and built for the world.

By emphasizing the breadth and depth of innovative ideas emerging from across the nation, the event celebrated the spirit of creativity and ingenuity within India while embracing a global perspective. (ANI)

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India’s EV Two-Wheeler Startups Top 150

The new policy sets the stage for a vibrant future-mobility global manufacturing hub in the country…reports Asian Lite News

Driven by conducive government policies and incentives towards a green future, India now has more than 150 two-wheeler electric vehicle (EV) startups, a new report said on Wednesday.

According to an analysis by global investment advisory firm Bernstein, the Indian EV segment is expected to grow 15-20 times to reach annual sales of 15-20 million units over the next decade.

“Around 85 per cent of the 65 models launched last year were such products — high-speed as against speed and range-constrained products, which used to be a feature of the startups,” according to the Bernstein report.

“The average battery capacity for new launches increased from 2.3 kWh (kilowatt-hour) in 2022 to 3 kWh,” the analysis noted.

TechCrunch was first to report on the Bernstein analysis. The new EV manufacturing policy, announced by the Central government last week, aims to not only attract global players to India but also stress on domestic value addition.

The new policy sets the stage for a vibrant future-mobility global manufacturing hub in the country.

The policy fixes a minimum investment of Rs 4,150 crore for foreign companies who want to set up EV manufacturing facilities in the country.

The Indian EV market is experiencing notable expansion, with a particular focus on meeting the surging demand for cleaner transportation, which is also necessitating a parallel expansion of charging infrastructure to cater to escalating demand.

The country may see 1 crore EV sales annually by 2030, generating nearly 5 crore jobs, according to Nitin Gadkari, Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways.

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Startup Mahakhumb 2024 Ignites Startup Growth

Jeej Vijay, CEO of MeitY Startup Hub (MSH), contributed invaluable insights to a panel discussion addressing critical challenges and opportunities within the startup space…reports Asian Lite News

The Ministry of Electronics & IT (MeitY) Startup Hub is empowering innovation, driving growth and forging success within the vast landscape of Startup Mahakhumbh 2024, which commenced at Bharat Mandapam in New Delhi from March 18-20.

According to MeitY press release, with the resounding theme of ‘Bharat Innovates,’ the event aims to serve as a catalyst for innovation, networking, and growth opportunities across various sectors.

Among the flagship engagements of this unprecedented gathering is the MeitY Startup Hub (MSH) innovation showcase, which emerged as a nucleus of entrepreneurship and innovation.

The MeitY Pavilion became a focal point for over 40 groundbreaking startups to exhibit their cutting-edge innovations, serving as a dynamic platform for engagement with industry experts, investors, and potential partners.

Attendees had the privilege to witness firsthand the creativity, ingenuity, and potential of these emerging startups, fostering a collaborative spirit throughout the event, according to the press release.

Jeej Vijay, CEO of MeitY Startup Hub (MSH), contributed invaluable insights to a panel discussion addressing critical challenges and opportunities within the startup space.

Focusing on “Funding DeepTech: Venture Capital’s Perspective on Research-Backed Startups,” his expertise illuminated the intricacies of venture capital funding, especially for startups rooted in deep technology and research-driven innovations.

Furthermore, MeitY Startup Hub organised a Startup Masterclass tailored to provide startups with practical knowledge, insights, and networking opportunities essential for enhancing growth and success within the dynamic startup ecosystem.

Additionally, an exclusive Incubator Masterclass covered a wide array of topics crucial for the success of both incubators and startups, including fundraising, mentorship strategies, ecosystem building, and incubation best practices, read the press release.

MeitY Startup Hub (MSH) is an initiative by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), Government of India, aimed at fostering entrepreneurship and innovation in the technology sector.

MSH supports startups, incubators, and Centers of Excellence (CoEs) through various programs and initiatives to drive digital transformation and promote India’s leadership in emerging technologies. (ANI)

ALSO READ-Startup Mahakumbh Kickstarts

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Startup Mahakumbh: Where Ideas Meet Impact!

With the central theme ‘Bharat Innovates,’ the event will also feature leadership talks, panel discussions, workshops, and a host of exciting activities for startups as well as future entrepreneurs….reports Asian Lite News

Over 1,000 start-ups, more than 500 incubators, hundreds of investors, and delegations from over 10 different countries will assemble for a three-day mega startup event ‘Startup Mahakumbh,’ set to kick off in the national capital on Monday.

Organisers said on Sunday that this event will now be an annual affair.

Being organised at the Bharat Mandapam, this event will be a first-of-its-kind in terms of vision and magnitude. Key global and Indian stakeholders such as unicorn startups, global and domestic venture capitalists, corporates, and industry leaders will also participate.

As many as 23 states will participate in this event and will showcase their startup ecosystem and policies. A few investors from the popular reality show Shark Tank will be present at the event over these three days.

With the central theme ‘Bharat Innovates,’ the event will also feature leadership talks, panel discussions, workshops, and a host of exciting activities for startups as well as future entrepreneurs.

The event will also host a Future Entrepreneurs Day on March 20, with a focus on cultivating the entrepreneurial spirit among students. The Future Entrepreneurs Day is expected to gather close to 5,000 individuals handpicked by colleges and incubators nationwide for their inclination towards entrepreneurship.

At the event, there will be 10 distinct pavilions showcasing the latest trends, technologies, and insights in their respective fields.

Startup Mahakumbh is being organised by ASSOCHAM, NASSCOM, Bootstrap Incubation and Advisory Foundation, TiE and Indian Venture and Alternate Capital Association (IVCA), and supported by Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), Ministry of Commerce and Industry.

Ahead of the main event, the organsing team hosted a press conference today, giving an overview of the three days of Startup Mahakumbh.

Sanjeev Bikhchandani, Co-founder and Executive Vice Chairman, Info Edge, delivered the opening remarks, emphasizing the evolution of the Indian startup ecosystem over the past decade. From the surge in venture capitalist investments to the proliferation of unicorn success stories, he highlighted the journey to a pivotal stage, underscoring the necessity of a unifying apex event like Startup Mahakumbh.

Startups that would assemble for this event would be able to network with, try to organise funding from, and getting mentoring, said DPIIT Secretary Rajesh Kumar Singh told ANI.

“The idea is for them to learn the what the options are. There are government funds available through SIDBI, seed funds scheme, as well as the fund of funds, and there are many others. There is a fairly active venture capital ecosystem in the country all of whom would be represented there at the Mahakumbh,” said the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade secretary.

India ranks at 40 in terms of innovation and the goal is to move up from this.

“Our aim is to make Startup Mahakumbh not just a big event, but also an annual event, which can further propel the growth of the Indian Startup ecosystem. The event aims to unite innovators nationwide and transform it into the largest global event of its kind,” the DPIIT secretary said.

Archana Jahagirdar, Founding and Managing Partner, Rukam Capital, and is part of the organising committee, told ANI that it is an interesting time to be in India and there is a great synergy between the government and startups.

“I think there is so much on offer for all the startups, young startups especially, because there is an understanding of how incubation works. There’ll be VCs, there’ll be angel investors, you can see how unicorns have built their businesses and come to the point that they’ve come to,” Jahagirdar said.

“I think, and there’ll be also an understanding of how the government is thinking, different states are thinking, what are their startup policies. For a startup who is trying to understand this entire ecosystem, there could not be a better place than Startup Mahakumbh to be at. So there will be a lot of, there’s a matchmaking tool, there will be a lot of investors there and the that we’ve got for startups, the idea for that is as a showcase so that investors can be going and meeting the founders and see their products and services, what is it that they’re building and typically from an event like this, you know, those connections really lead to investments eventually.”

India has the third largest startup ecosystem and now it is the endeavour to become the best and this event is that direction.

“This event is part of that initiative and we are aiming to bring together its subsystems and components together on a single platform. Collaboration between them will boost the startup ecosystem,” said Sanjiv Singh, Joint Secretary, Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade.

Among other things, to further demonstrate the capabilities and opportunities within the Indian gaming and E-Sports industry, the E- Sports pavilion at Startup Mahakumbh is organising the Esports tournament of Real Cricket and Sachin Saga with a total prize pool upwards of Rs 100,000. (DPIIT). (ANI)

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‘IndiaAI Mission’ Wins Industry Praise

The IndiaAI Mission will establish a comprehensive ecosystem catalysing AI innovation through strategic programmes…reports Asian Lite News

The industry leaders on Friday hailed the government’s IndiaAI Mission initiative, the country’s first artificial intelligence (AI) mission that was approved with an outlay of Rs 10,371.92 crore.

The IndiaAI Mission will establish a comprehensive ecosystem catalysing AI innovation through strategic programmes and partnerships across the public and private sectors.

“The focus on funding deep tech AI startups, developing open source databases, as well as domain-specific large language models will play an instrumental role in fueling AI innovation in the country, making India a global leader in harnessing the potential of artificial intelligence,” said Tilakraj Parmar, Co-Founder & CEO, QX Lab AI.

He also mentioned that the government’s move to provide financial support and a strategic roadmap for AI integration will act as a catalyst for economic growth and innovation.

Prashanth Kaddi, Partner, Consulting, Deloitte India, said that this move gives a fillip to the startup ecosystem “to drive innovation helping India leapfrog into areas such as text summarisation, video/image generation, and next-gen chatbots etc., including enablement across Indian languages”.

The Mission will be implemented by ‘IndiaAI’ Independent Business Division (IBD) under Digital India Corporation (DIC).

According to an official, the approved IndiaAI Mission will propel innovation and build domestic capacities to ensure the tech sovereignty of the country.

It will also create highly skilled employment opportunities to harness the demographic dividend of the country.

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Indian Startups Raise $307.8 Million in Funding This Week

Seventeen early-stage startups raised about $166.8 million, like mPokket, Ema, Hunch and Rozana, among others….reports Asian Lite News

At least 27 startups in India raised about $307.8 million this week, which includes 17 early-stage and seven growth-stage companies.

Nearly 32 early and growth-stage startups raised more than $384 million last week, startup news portal Entrackr reported on Saturday.

Seventeen early-stage startups raised about $166.8 million, like mPokket, Ema, Hunch and Rozana, among others.

Startups based in Delhi-NCR led the funding with 10 deals, followed by Bengaluru at 9 deals.

Digital lending platform mPokket raised up to Rs 500 crore (around $60 million) in debt capital from BPEA Credit’s private credit platform.

mPokket said that the funds will be used to meet the growing credit demand from its 24 million registered customer base while accelerating product development in the career accelerator and insurance verticals.

Rural e-commerce startup Rozana received $22.5 million in the latest funding round. The round was led by the investment firm Bertelsmann India Investments (BII) with participation from the VC firm Fireside Ventures and existing investors.

“With this funding, we will continue building out our logistics and supply chain infrastructure to reach new districts and empower rural communities with access to essential products,” Ankur Dahiya, CEO and Co-founder of Rozana, said in a statement.

Generative AI solutions provider Ema announced a $25 million funding round and the launch of a novel “universal AI employee.”

More than 1.14 lakh startups in India have created over 12 lakh jobs so far, the Finance Ministry said in its latest review of the Indian economy.

IndiaAI Mission Boosts Innovation in Startup Ecosystem

The industry leaders on Friday hailed the government’s IndiaAI Mission initiative, the country’s first artificial intelligence (AI) mission that was approved with an outlay of Rs 10,371.92 crore.

The IndiaAI Mission will establish a comprehensive ecosystem catalysing AI innovation through strategic programmes and partnerships across the public and private sectors.

“The focus on funding deep tech AI startups, developing open source databases, as well as domain-specific large language models will play an instrumental role in fueling AI innovation in the country, making India a global leader in harnessing the potential of artificial intelligence,” said Tilakraj Parmar, Co-Founder & CEO, QX Lab AI.

He also mentioned that the government’s move to provide financial support and a strategic roadmap for AI integration will act as a catalyst for economic growth and innovation.

Prashanth Kaddi, Partner, Consulting, Deloitte India, said that this move gives a fillip to the startup ecosystem “to drive innovation helping India leapfrog into areas such as text summarisation, video/image generation, and next-gen chatbots etc., including enablement across Indian languages”.

The Mission will be implemented by ‘IndiaAI’ Independent Business Division (IBD) under Digital India Corporation (DIC).

According to an official, the approved IndiaAI Mission will propel innovation and build domestic capacities to ensure the tech sovereignty of the country.

It will also create highly skilled employment opportunities to harness the demographic dividend of the country.

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Simplilearn Hails Startup India

Dalal said the new education policy has driven a lot of change in the sector by enabling many traditional universities to offer online courses….reports Asian Lite News

Government initiatives such as ‘Digital India’ and ‘Startup India’ are empowering different sectors of the digital ecosystem such as fintech and edtech in a very positive way, Simplilearn co-founder and COO, Kashyap Dalal, said on Saturday.

According to him, there are wide areas of interventions that the government has undertaken in the last 5-7 years, which is a boost for several digital ecosystem sectors.

“One is the entire fintech stack. We have unified payments interface (UPI), Aadhaar, KYC, online payments, and streamlining that entire piece has completely changed the face of digital transactions. That has really galvanised the space,” Dalal told IANS.

Talking about the edtech space, Dalal said the new education policy has driven a lot of change in the sector by enabling many traditional universities to offer online courses.

“These universities also partner with edtech players like us. A lot of universities would partner to build out the entire business where their faculty members would be part of the pedagogy in terms of providing the teaching and learning,” he said.

A Nasscom-led report said last month that Digital Public Infrastructure (DPIs) like UPI and Aadhaar are poised to propel India towards a $8 trillion economy by 2030, helping the country achieve a $1 trillion digital economy target.

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‘Govt Digital Push Fuels Insurtech Revolution’

The Indian insurtech sector has also come up with microinsurance products tailored specifically to protect the economically vulnerable population with insurance coverage on health, agriculture, and livelihood….reports Asian Lite News

The government’s push towards digitalisation and technology adoption has catalysed innovation within the insurtech industry, which bodes well for bolstering the growth prospects of the industry, Ankit Agrawal, Founder and CEO, InsuranceDekho, has stressed.

In an interaction with IANS, he said that the government’s decision to promote Insurtech innovation can be considered a positive step towards the development of ingenious insurance products, distribution channels, and customer engagement solutions.

“Initiatives such as the ‘Digital India’ campaign and the introduction of Aadhaar-based e-KYC have facilitated the seamless onboarding of customers and enabled insurers to offer digital insurance products and services,” Ankit Agrawal noted.

Union Budget 2022-23 likely to give more incentives to boost startups.

Furthermore, to give the desired impetus to the sector, the government has also launched Ayushman Bharat – Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB-PMJAY) to provide financial protection against healthcare expenses for millions of vulnerable families, thereby expanding the health insurance coverage.

The Indian insurtech sector has also come up with microinsurance products tailored specifically to protect the economically vulnerable population with insurance coverage on health, agriculture, and livelihood.

“The products have been devised with the intention of driving maximum insurance for the otherwise underprivileged sections of society,” said Agrawal.

In addition to this, the industry has been making great strides to expedite technology integration with the help of Insurtech startups to leverage digital platforms for facilitating distribution, claim processing, and customer engagement aimed at enabling easy access to various insurance products.

Various studies have shown that increased insurance penetration multiplies the economy by reducing overall financial distress and making long-term growth capital available to important nation-building industries.

“Working towards the larger goal of becoming a fully insured nation by 2047, the government should consider the exemption of GST on insurance policies to bring down insurance premiums,” Agrawal said.

This can further be supported by a rise in tax exemption limits under 80C to prioritise savings and promote insurance coverage, for giving the desired fillip to economic growth, he added.

ALSO READ: India Tightens Grip on Tech

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Startup Challenges Mount as ‘Poster Boys’ Tumble

Veteran investor and Info Edge Founder Sanjeev Bikhchandani said that he believes that good governance is important as companies grow….reports Asian Lite News

Recent governance issues with well-funded and “poster boys” of startups have added to the ongoing bearish trend for the ecosystem amid the funding winter, industry leaders and experts said on Wednesday.

As startup majors Paytm and Byju’s make the headlines for several issues amid the regulatory heat, investors have turned cautious about conducting a thorough due diligence process.

Veteran investor and Info Edge Founder Sanjeev Bikhchandani told IANS that he believes that good governance is important as companies grow.

“You cannot build a sustainable large valuable enterprise if you are not governed well. Therefore, I would urge startup founders to put more emphasis on good governance,” he added.

According to Shrijay Sheth, Founder, Legalwiz.in, financial mismanagement and compliance-related issues are surfacing often these days.

“While the startup founders will assume a role of a custodian of investor’s money, it is also important for the investors to take an active role in flagging such issues in time, especially, when they hold a board or an observer seat.

“Most of these issues surface while raising funds or when the business lacks financial performance,” he noted.

Incubators, accelerators and other government funded programmes need to educate nascent stage founders, according to experts.

First-time entrepreneurs stay non-compliant largely because of lack of knowledge, than any other reason.

“Many requirements like labour-related compliance, POSH policy implementation, or maintaining basic accounting hygiene remain unaddressed due to lack of awareness. This needs to be addressed,” said Sheth.

Due diligence and corporate governance are crucial factors at every stage of a startup’s journey.

“At DevX Venture Fund, we have always emphasised strong corporate governance and ethos. We invest at an early stage and hence it is crucial to set the right expectations of how an organisation should run,” Umesh Uttamchandani, CoFounder, DevX Venture Fund, told IANS.

Conducting regular monthly calls with the portfolio startups and providing clarity to “our investors happens to be of utmost importance as the founders ought to be accountable after raising funds and enable potential investors to engage with the founders who have clean books”.

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