Bangalore: Early-stage start-up incubator GSF Accelerator is investing between $100,000 and $200,000 each in five Indian start-ups, along with other venture capital firms such as Silicon Valley-based 500 Startups.
The five new ventures to receive funding include Bangalore-based analytics start-up Little Eye Labs, programmer recruiting firm HackerEarth, mobile app maker ZAPR, Tushky and WeAreHolidays— both help customers in planning vacations.
“We selected these start-ups on the basis of founders’ profile and management team, market and product potential and traction, valuation and co-investor profiles also were of importance,” said Rajesh Sawhney, founder of GSF, which was started in November 2011.
GSF said it received applications from more than 500 start-ups across the country and shortlisted 13 for an initial round of funding of Rs.10-15 lakh each. Of the 13 that were shortlisted, seven were nominated for an additional round of funding. GSF selected four out of the seven and picked one other start-up—WeAreHolidays, which did not go through the initial accelerator programme—for the second round of funding, along with other investors, such as Blume Ventures and Mumbai Angels.
“This time we have seen a number of serial and mature entrepreneurs also seeking entry which is very encouraging,” said Sawhney.
GSF has already funded two batches of start-ups in India.
Little Eye Labs’ analytics platform helps monitor central processing unit and memory consumption in computers. HackerEarth’s online platform helps filter and recruit programmers for technology firms. ZAPR’s mobile app helps identify and engage audiences of television programmes for brands and media houses. Tushky is a online marketplace that helps customers with holiday planning and bookings across India, while WeAreHolidays also helps in vacation planning based on user preferences.
The infrastructure supporting Indian start-ups has come up in a big way in the past five years.
New initiatives such as the incubator programme launched recently by Nasscom with Google Inc. and Microsoft Corp., and the Start-up Village in Kerala are expected to give India’s tech ecosystem a much-needed fillip.
However, the start-up ecosystem in India will take time to mature and still has a long way to go, experts said.
“Even though the ecosystem is forming, it’s still not at a mature point where people know where to go and how to go about it,” said Ravi Narayan, director of Microsoft Ventures India. “I don’t think things are well-entrenched in the ecosystem yet, but there’s a lot more that is happening now for sure.”
“Building start-ups anywhere in the world is a tough job, more so in India,” said Sawhney, who helped set up news and entertainment website Indiatimes.com in the early 2000s. “I think there are three main challenges in India at this point of time, the biggest of them is finding the right mentors. Second is to find the right angel and seed investors and finally, start-ups need to find early adapters, customers and government agencies who would become seedbed of tests.”