New Delhi: London-based accelerator Entrepreneur First has earmarked $20 million to build deep technology ventures in India over the next three years, a top company executive said.
Founded in 2011 by Matt Clifford and Alice Bentinck, Entrepreneur First helps pre-idea or pre-founder startups find the right teams and co-founders, refine ideas and raise funds from local and global investors.
Entrepreneur First, which calls itself a “company builder", has launched a six-month programme in Bengaluru to help build 50 individual deep-tech startups focusing on segments such as artificial intelligence, machine learning and robotics along with tech-focused consumer companies.
“We will roughly invest $20 million in India over the next three years just on the stipends and initial investment. But we could invest many millions more in the next stage of the investment and there is no geographical limit on that," said Clifford in a telephone interview.
The startup accelerator will pump in around $55,000 in the startups during its biannual programme. It plans to back startups up to Series A round.
Entrepreneur First offers $2,000 in monthly stipend to cohort members as they develop business ideas and build a team in the initial three months of the programme. In the second phase, Entrepreneur First will help startups raise investments from a pool of global and local investors in India.
“Relatively, very few graduating individuals start companies soon after in India. We believe finding a co-founder, which we specialize in, and choosing the right ideas is fixable and will help build amazing entrepreneurs," added Clifford.
Entrepreneur First has raised nearly $200 million in funding and is backed by Reid Hoffman’s Greylock Partners, Mosaic Ventures, Founders Fund, Lakestar Capital, and DeepMind founders Demis Hassabis and Mustafa Suleyman.
Alongside London, Entrepreneur First also runs its programmes in Singapore, Berlin, Hong Kong and Paris among others. Bengaluru marks Entrepreneur First’s third setup in Asia.
According to research firm Startup Genome, Bengaluru’s startup ecosystem is valued at $19 billion, with an estimated 1,800-2,300 active tech startups.
“Bengaluru is well-known for its brilliant tech talent and entrepreneurial spirit. With our emphasis on deep tech, we are truly excited about the possibilities in India and believe that the talent pool here is ripe to create some of the world’s next biggest and most important companies," said Anne Marie Droste, Entrepreneur First global expansion director.
Entrepreneur First has also set up a six-member team in Bengaluru and is scouting for a head to lead the India operations. “We will hire local entrepreneurs and investors that will help advise the companies but also be adding to the venture partners pool," said Clifford.
It claims to have has invested in over 200 companies worth $1.5 billion cumulatively. Entrepreneur First’s alumna include visual processing company Magic Pony Technology (acquired by Twitter Inc.) and monetization platform for mobile applications Avocarrot (acquired by Glipsa Global Group) among others.
Entrepreneur First’s winter cohort of the programme in Bengaluru will begin on 29 January next year.