In conversation with Gaurav VK Singhvi, Co-Founder of We Founder Circle

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Speaking to TechGraph’s Editorial team, CA Gaurav VK Singhvi, Co-Founder of We Founder Circle (WFC) has said, “Earlier, Indian startups were focusing on customer acquisition and now the focus has changed to profitability or positive cash flow.”

Read the complete interview:

TechGraph: Could you help give a sense of how far We Founder Circle has come since its existence? From when it began to where it is now?

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Gaurav VK Singhvi: We Founder Circle has covered quite some distance since it was incorporated in October 2020. That has been possible as its founders and strategic angels share a great vision to push the startup industry and steer it towards aggressive growth.

We started with the vision of not just providing capital to the startups but also enabling and acting as a catalyst in their growth journey through our extensive community network. That has seen us raise more than USD 10 million in funds across 33 startups in the first year of its incorporation. The current year has been good so far with us funding 45+ start-ups. The growth has been tremendous, and we are seeing it across many areas.

There are 6000+ angels in the community. We are transitioning from the network stage to an angel-investing platform by bringing in technology with invstt.com that will democratize the whole startup scenario. We started as a small team but are 50+ members strong now. We invest anywhere between USD 100K to 2 million in early-stage startups that are driven by ambition, sustainability, and a scalable approach.

TechGraph: What’s the investment philosophy that you follow at We Founder Circle?

Gaurav VK Singhvi: We Founder Circle follows a founder-first policy when it comes to investing. We look at the passion and attitude of a founder – passion when the going is smooth and the attitude when the going gets tough. That is not the only philosophy that we follow – scalability and stability are also equally important.

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WFC offers startups seed funding, business development, and global networking opportunities as it believes that early-stage startups require more than just financial support to become scalable and stable, which we can provide through our extensive network of highly successful founders, CXOs, family offices, and HNIs present in more than 20 countries and also spanning across Tier 2 and 3 cities and rural regions of India.

While incubating start-ups, WFC also takes a digital-first approach, allowing angels from around the world to invest in and partner with startups. WFC covers all development areas such as business strategy, product development, community building, connecting with business mentors, and fundraising.

TechGraph: What is We Founder Circle’s fund approach in the current market? Are you looking at new sectors too or using more stringent norms to evaluate a business?

Gaurav VK Singhvi: When you fund startups, you are always on the lookout for new sectors with high potential. WFC’s methods for evaluating and minimizing market risk vary depending on the sector it is investing in, analyzing the size of market opportunities, and most importantly the will and idea behind running the start-up.

WFC has already invested in more than 20 promising sectors in 2022, and to capitalize on the growing market trends, the platform is targeting to go deeper in sectors such as Climate Tech, FinTech, AgriTech, Web 3.0, and DeepTech.

Some of WFC’s key investments include Blu Smart, Zypp, ObenEV, Healthysure, Hesa, Glamyo Health, Geekster, Escrowpay, EsportsXo, and Settl. WFC intends to invest in more than 100 startups by the end of FY 2023.

TechGraph: How are you handling the fund’s existing portfolio and responding to challenges faced by start-up founders?

Gaurav VK Singhvi: WFC believes that having a fund investment strategy that everyone adheres to in a disciplined manner is the key to portfolio management. The world’s most successful money managers are successful as they have the discipline to manage money and a proper roadmap. Having a plan creates expectations of how start-ups will spend the capital and generate returns on their investments.

WFC, which has one of the fastest-growing angel networks, is built on the concept of founders backing founders and offers start-ups the extensive experience of its investors, corporate leaders, and unicorn founders to help them overcome any obstacles to growth.

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TechGraph: What is your view on the Indian start-up ecosystem?

Gaurav VK Singhvi: In recent years, a large talent pool has sought to become entrepreneurs. India has recognized the importance of developing innovation and incubation centers for its businesses and startups to foster innovation and an entrepreneurial mindset to boost the economy and generate employability.

The Indian start-up ecosystem has geared up, particularly post-Covid-19, resulting in increased investor confidence in Indian start-ups, which was not the case previously. This is also evident with the Indian government aggressively promoting start-ups through their various policies and initiatives, moreover, angel investors and PE/VC institutions across the world are also understanding and willing to invest in India’s growth story.

TechGraph: How do you see the recent layoffs made by startups across the sector?

Gaurav VK Singhvi: These layoffs are happening across businesses and segments and are not limited to one industry. It is due to aggressive hiring by some start-ups and changes of plans by businesses to adjust subsequently to the market makeover due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Earlier, Indian startups were focusing on customer acquisition and now the focus has changed to profitability or positive cash flow. Indian start-ups have seen such cycles in the past and are capable of overcoming and adjusting the scenario.

TechGraph: How do you see the angel & pre-stage investment scenario in the country over the next two-three years?

Gaurav VK Singhvi: Due to the shift in consumer behavior and the rise of e-commerce businesses, the number of investment rounds in pre-stage start-ups provided by angel investors has increased over the years and is expected to grow even further in the future. According to reports, 708 Indian startups received $1.1 billion in seed funding in 2021, with an average deal size of $2.3 million.

Angel networks will lead the way in the future as they have developed a proper ecosystem to improve deal flow while also increasing funding to a level that will address the growing gap between individual angels and institutional venture capitalists. Angel networks will also add more efficiency to the deal sourcing and investment evaluation processes in the coming two-three years.

TechGraph: Since coronavirus and recession hints have affected almost every startup and business, Even many VC deals have closed down. How it has impacted We Founder Circle’s portfolio startups?

Gaurav VK Singhvi: There is no doubt that the Covid-19 pandemic sent the economy into a tailspin, and investors were scrambling to figure out how to protect their existing investments. The transition, Covid-19 brought to the Indian market also changed the appetite of investors who aim to invest in new potential businesses. As businesses and consumers adjust to the post-lockdown normalcy, funding for new companies and larger rounds is more likely to emerge.

We Founder Circle (WFC), as an investment platform, was born amid the pandemic. The founders tapped into the market to scale the business of a new promising start-up and since its launch in 2020, WFC has become one of the fastest-growing angel networks with 33+ start-up investments in 12 months (and 70+ startups to date). The key philosophy was that if a startup could withstand bad times during the pandemic, it could do well when the good times come.

TechGraph: Lastly, what does the future hold for We Found Circle?

Gaurav VK Singhvi: WFC aims to boost its global presence and become the largest community-driven investment platform on the international stage. The brand intends to grow its network to 10,000 angels from India and abroad by the end of the fiscal year 2022-’23.

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Krishna Mali
Krishna Mali
Founder & Editor of TechGraph.

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