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Urban Ladder co-founder to head Singaporean VC firm Antler’s India operations

Antler plans to invest in up to 40 companies in its first year of operation.

Photo by Dmitry Demidko on Unsplash

Antler, a global venture capital firm that invests in early-stage startups, said Monday it would launch its operations with a dedicated fund to invest in India. It has appointed Rajiv Srivatsa a co-founder of Urban Ladder as head of the initiative. Srivatsa will be driving the firm’s goal of building over 150 startups in the next four years in India.

Bengaluru-based Urban Ladder is one of India’s leading online furniture platforms that posted consolidated profit last year.

“We will launch an India fund and collaborate with the entire ecosystem including VCs, angels, and work closely with corporate partners and functional specialists as mentors, to power the India opportunity ahead this decade,” said Rajiv Srivatsa, partner, Antler India.

Comparing Indian startup ecosystem with China’s a decade ago, Srivatsa said, in the coming years, Antler has the potential to take this ecosystem into the next orbit and build hundreds of world-class startups at scale.

For its first year of operations in India, Antler plans to invest in up to 40 companies. It is also looking at expanding to other major cities in the next three to five years given India’s entrepreneurial hubs that is scattered across the country in cities like Bengaluru, Mumbai, Hyderabad, and New Delhi. To begin with, it would set up an office in Bengaluru.

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The three-year-old VC firm is located in 11 cities across six continents and has invested in sectors such as fintech, cleantech, consumer products, gaming, e-commerce, and others.

Antler runs a six-month-long program divided into two phases. In the first phase of the program, the selected early-stage startups leverage Antler’s resources and expertise to validate their business idea, build a team that includes finding a co-founder. The 10-week long first phase gives Antler an opportunity to learn about the founders and their team, based on which it decides which startup to invest in. The startups in which it invests qualify for the second phase to build and scale the startup. The inaugural program in India will kick off in Bengaluru in the second half of 2020, the company said.

For the past few years, the technology startup ecosystem in the world’s second-most populous country has been attracting VC money from both local as well as foreign VC firms. Indian startups raised USD 10 billion in 2019—55% more than 2018—according to a joint report by Bain & Company and IVCA.

“We believe the Indian entrepreneurial ecosystem has massive potential. Over the next 5 years, India is expected to be the third-largest market and grow into a 5 trillion dollar economy, fueling a much higher growth for the digital economy,” said Magnus Grimeland, founder and CEO of Antler.

Late last year, Srivatsa stepped down from the leadership role at his eight-year-old omnichannel furniture startup Urban Ladder.