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Business News/ Companies / Start-ups/  US-based Pienza Ventures to offer accelerator initiative for SAAS-based Indian B2B startups
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US-based Pienza Ventures to offer accelerator initiative for SAAS-based Indian B2B startups

Pienza Ventures is betting big on SAAS-based B2B Indian start-ups with an initial $5 million booty to identify and steer fresh entrepreneurial ventures and provide strategic guidance for market positioning in the US.

India has the third-largest start-up ecosystem globally, accounting for 1.24 million jobs. (Image: Pixabay)Premium
India has the third-largest start-up ecosystem globally, accounting for 1.24 million jobs. (Image: Pixabay)

Seattle-based early-stage venture fund Pienza Ventures is betting big on SAAS-based B2B Indian start-ups with an initial $5 million booty and a unique accelerator programme to facilitate market access to the US, which hosts the world’s largest start-up ecosystem and VC activity.

Founded by Aaron Bird and backed by Version One Capital, MHS Ventures and Cercano Management, Pienza is setting up an office in Bengaluru to drive its aggregator programme to identify and steer fresh entrepreneurial ventures, its partner and angel investor Jofin Joseph told Livemint.

Aaron, a super-angel with 70-plus angel investments, founded Bizible, which was acquired by Marketo in 2018. Later Marketo itself was acquired by Adobe. 

“Indian startups need a personalised approach to acceleration. Rather than generic mentoring and playbook, we focus on one-to-one mentoring and unlocking of specific opportunities for founders. Hence we work with only a very limited number of companies, connect them with the best mentors, and give them the strategic guidance for market positioning," Aaron Bird, founding partner of Pienza, told Livemint.

Jofin, who founded Profoundis, a provider of technology-enabled data research platforms curated by human oversight, said many growth-stage companies in India find it difficult to enter the US market and to become accustomed to the scenario, mainly due to a lack of a cohesive go-to-market (GTM) strategy.

Profoundis was later acquired by US-based content management platform FullContact for an undisclosed sum.

“Pienza accelerator program’s USP is to accelerate US market access to growth-stage companies through mentorships and reviews by world-class mentors and by offering strategic advice, guidance and connections to potential customers," Joseph said.

Pienza will focus on facilitating three core stages for beneficiaries of its programme, which it identifies as:

Market readiness: Continuous mentorship, connects and handholding to help founders prepare themselves for US market, and to formulate the ideal GTM strategy.

Early Access: Accelerated access to early adopters and users

On-ground immersion: A US trip to unravel the market opportunities through focused events, meetups and more GTM activities.

Also Read: London’s Pantheon Ventures to ramp up Investments in India

“We are not looking specifically for growth-stage companies based in Bengaluru, or any specific location in India. Companies can be based anywhere in India," Jofin said.

Pienza is specifically scouting for companies with B2B SAAS or AI products with 5 to 10 early customers and/or $500K in annual recurring revenue.

Also Read: Anthill Ventures plans $100 million hybrid fund for Indian startups, seeks investors planing to diversify from China

“Our goal is not to tell the startups what to do and drive their strategy, but to enable them with the right advice from the network to help them make the best decisions and execute them," Jofin said.

India’s startup ecosystem

India’s start-up ecosystem has demonstrated remarkable resilience despite the funding winter, attracting more than $8 billion in 2023 alone, as angel investors, venture capitalists, and private equity firms bet big on domestic firms. Funds raised by Indian tech startups, though, recorded a marginal decline from January to March 2024, slipping to $2 billion from $2.3 billion in the previous quarter. Funding rounds also hit a 3-year low.

India has the third-largest start-up ecosystem globally, accounting for 1.24 million jobs.

As of December 31, 2023, the country had 117,254 startups recognised by the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), including an estimated 110 unicorns. 

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Published: 24 May 2024, 02:28 PM IST
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