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Early-Stage Startup Deal Terms in India 2020

There was a recent thread on Twitter about how even in 2020 angels and VCs in India continue to put ridiculously onerous terms into early-stage deals.

I recently invested in an Indian startup that closed a pre-series A round and the documents were more than 100 pages. When I was at 500 Startups, with the help of BMR Legal, we modified the 500 Startups KISS Agreement for India and open sourced the documents in the hopes that it would simplify early-stage documentation and reduce the amount of time to close a deal and the cost of doing early-stage deals in India, much like Series Seed docs and the SAFE have done in the US.

Here’s a presentation I gave in January 2020 at CIE-IIIT Hyderabad on some of the deal terms in India to watch out for. Unfortunately, there’s no video of the actual presentation I gave so I recorded a voice over for you.

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If there are additional terms you have questions about or terms you’ve come across that are onerous, please leave a comment on the YouTube video and I will respond. Hopefully, other founders will benefit from it as well.

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Startups

Cold Emailing Venture Capitalists and Angel Investors

Although most people recommend getting an introduction to a VC or an angel investor, it is sometimes necessary to send a cold email. Here are some thoughts on how one could frame those emails.

This is what I think the basic structure of the email should be:

  • Why you are reaching out
  • How your startup is of interest to the individual.
  • A little of your background, establishing some credibility.

Example 1

A great example of an email from a founder to an investor is:

Hi Pankaj,

I am physician entrepreneur and I run a health tech startup, <STARTUP NAME>, focused on the digital health space with a focus on diabetes. I sold my previous startup in 2015 and started this company in 2016.

I believe you will find our startup interesting because it has measurable traction, we’re going after a massive market and we’re a team that’s been working together for more than a decade.

We are in the process of raising a series A round and are looking for strategic angels that can help with international growth, business strategy, and ecosystem building. Attached is a teaser deck for your review. I would be delighted to setup some time with you to go through the business in greater detail.

In this example, the founder starts with a quick introduction and continues by adding a little about his credibility, being a physician, and selling his previous startup.

He then explains why this deal might be of interest to me. He might have done a little research or watched previous episodes of Invest Stream to know that I want to see traction in the companies I invest in, as well as, a large market size. He also knows that I care about the team and how well they work together.

He closes with why they would like me to consider investing and attaches a PDF. There’s been some debates on Twitter about the use of PDFs vs. using services like DocSend. I prefer PDFs so I can scribble notes on them and save them for posterity 🙂

Example 2

Hi Pankaj,

My name is Dr. <FOUNDER’S NAME>, co-founder of <STARTUP NAME>, an intelligent telehealth platform.

<STARTUP NAME> is an AI telehealth platform helping doctors to complete clinical documentation accurately and efficiently instead of manual, sloppy, unreadable notes. With <STARTUP NAME> providers have increased productivity and the amount of time they can spend with patients by almost 60 hours a year and are, thus, increasing their revenue by more than 100k annually.

Knowing your investment in <PREVIOUS INVESTMENT>, I think you might be interested in knowing more about <STARTUP NAME>, and what we do with AI to help physicians to be more efficient with their time.

Some of our numbers:

  • 50% MoM
  • +5K consultations
  • +50 physicians subscribed to our platform
  • +10 medical specialties

We are raising our Seed Round, and we would really like to show you more of what we are doing and get your feedback.

Let me know if I can send you my deck, or we can jump on a call next week.

I hope to hear back from you soon,

In this example, the founder introduces himself (also adding credibility that he’s a physician) and gives me quick intro to the company and the problem that it’s solving.

He also shares some of their traction information and shows that he’s researched me before dropping me a cold email (referencing a company I’ve invested in previously).

He then shares what stage they are at and why he would like to talk. I would have preferred if he sent me the deck or a teaser deck but it’s not the end of the world. 

What other examples do you have of a cold email you’ve sent out that’s worked well for you?

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Advice Investing InvestStream Video Venture Capital Video

How to Start Your First Early-Stage Venture Fund

Arjun Dev Arora, Founder of Valence Advisory, shares lots of pro tips about how to go about raising an early-stage venture capital fund for the first time. Why should one do it? What are some of the pitfalls? What do Limited Partners (LPs) want to see and what do they not like and a lot more about how one should go about raising a first time fund.

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Arjun was a Partner at 500 Startups, Founder & CEO of ReTargeter (acquired by Sellpoints in 2015), and head of business development @ Yahoo! Real Estate and has been recognized at the: White House, United Nations (UN), and the Global Summit for Entrepreneurship, for his success and commitment to a values-centered organization.

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Business Entrepreneurship Investing Startups Venture Capital Video

A Fireside Chat with NextView Ventures’ Co-Founder, Rob Go

How does one go from being an operator to starting a venture capital fund? On the next Invest Stream Live, I will chat with Rob Go, co-founder of NextView Ventures. We will dive into how he got started as a VC, what’ are some of the most interesting companies in NextView’s portfolio, what’s changed for the firm since the covid pandemic hit, how odes NextView run their accelerator and seed programs and much much more.

Rob Go is a co-founder and Partner at NextView Ventures. Prior to founding NextView, Rob was at Spark Capital, Ebay, as well as, Fidelity Investments and BzzAgent. Catch him on Twitter at @robgo

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Angel Investing Entrepreneurship India Investing InvestStream Video Startups Venture Capital Video

The Rise of Indian Venture Capital

Over the last twenty years, India has seen a tremendous amount of economic activity in the tech arena. The startup and venture capital ecosystems were a bit slow to pick-up, partly due to low Internet penetration until just a few years ago. That, however, didn’t prevent the creation of unicorns like Flipkart, Snapdeal and others. Since 2017, India has seen numerous new venture capital firms being launched with domestic and foreign capital. Japanese and Chinese investors have poured billions of dollars into Indian tech startups and venture capital firms over the last 5 years.

In the next Invest Stream Live, we’re going to chat with Ankita Vashistha, founder of the Saha Fund and Rahul Chandra, founder of Arkam Ventures. Both Ankita and Rahul have been active investors in India and both of them have very unique fund strategies. We will discuss broad trends they are seeing in India right now, what drove them to formulate such unique theses for their respective funds and what they see in store for Indian startups and other VC firms over the next year.

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