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Y Combinator-modeled Indian accelerator fund 9Unicorns raises USD 14 million

9Unicorns will write the check of USD 100,000 for five to seven percent equity per startups.

Venture Catalysts, a Mumbai-based incubator, said it has raised INR 100 crore (USD 14 million) for its five-month-old accelerator fund, 9Unicorns as part of its maiden funding round. It plans to receive a total corpus of USD 42 million, which it will invest in 100 startups over the next three years.

The accelerator VC fund will write the check of USD 100,000 for five to seven percent equity per startup. These funded startups will go through three months of acceleration program where they will be mentored by founders. After the completion of the program, a few chosen startups will be eligible to raise USD 500,000 to USD 2 million round from Venture Catalysts along with global VC funds.

“There’s no better time to bet on Indian entrepreneurs than today,” Apoorva Ranjan Sharma, co-founder and president at Venture Catalysts said in a statement. “We are witnessing a surge in startups who are focused on solving Indian and global problems born out of various parts of India. I anticipate the number of unicorns in India will grow 4x, from 36 today to over 140 in the near future.”

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Venture Catalysts was co-founded by Sharma in 2016 and currently has an active portfolio of more than 75 startups including fintech company BharatPe, men’s grooming brand Beardo, women’s hygiene product maker Pee Safe, digital lending platform LenDenClub, online furniture rental portal RentoMojo, and logistics startup Blowhorn.

According to Sharma, Venture Catalysts, which has close to 5,000 investors across the country, has so far invested in 110 startups. Of the total, it has had over 30 successful exits to date.

Created on the lines of American startup accelerator Y Combinator, the idea behind 9Unicorns is to build an accelerator fund, which will have resources to fund follow-on rounds for the startups that have the potential to become big. Essentially, 9Unicorns intends to ensure the money for the next round is available with Venture Catalysts.

“The challenge for most accelerators is the next round of financing. With 9Unicorns, startups will have a one-stop solution for 24 months of money with us,” Sharma had told KrASIA in an earlier interview.

“The starting point for 9Unicorns is a USD 100,000 check. But the icing on the cake is that we have 10 super angel groups that will be investing along with 9Unicorns, providing a similar amount at the same stage and the same valuation,” he had said. “The moment Venture Catalysts’ investment committee approves an investment, USD 100,000–150,000 would follow, so the total check size becomes USD 100,000–250,000.”

The angel network-backed incubator has a vast network of Indian business communities across tier 1, 2, 3, and 4 cities in the country, which 9Unicorns will leverage to help startups expand their pan-India reach. Focused on investing and accelerating idea stage startups that have the potential to be unicorns, the fund is eyeing sectors such as deep tech, SaaS, financial services, fashion, e-commerce, clean energy, healthcare, education, media and entertainment, travel and logistics, and fast-moving consumer goods, among others.