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Hand-holding can help startups find a way through maze

Startups like Cosmeto Foods have developed their entire line of Covid-related stuff like sanitisers

Hand-holding can help startups find a way through maze
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Rachit Chawla, director (technology and finance), Risers Accelerator

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Risers Accelerator, a New Delhi-based startup accelerator floated by a team of 35 young and successful entrepreneurs from diverse backgrounds with a total worth of Rs 3,000 crore, has been aggressively facilitating startups that have a globally scalable business framework, saleable offerings and capability to foster social growth since its inception in 2019. Positioning itself as a platform to transform the game-changing ideas of startups into feasible plans, and plans into profitable business with comprehensive knowledge and adequate resources, Risers mulls shortlisting 200 startups across the country to support and nurture them. In an interview to The Hans India, Rachit Chawla, director (technology and finance), Risers Accelerator, shares with K Rajani Kanth the accelerator's vision of partaking in nation-building through nurturing socially disruptive startups, the startup scenario during Covid-19, and the support that they have been providing to the startups that have been struggling due to the staggering impact of the global pandemic. Edited excerpts:

What kind of startups does Risers support and mentor, and which verticals excite it more to park investments?

Risers Accelerator promotes promising startups, regardless of which industry or sector they belong to. If the idea/concept has the potential to perform in the market, strategies can be utilised as traction and the leadership has the power to magnify the goals -- Risers has all those catalysts that are required to boost their growth. All the 35 mentors have a good track record as leaders of successful startups, and they have carved distinct positions for companies in their respective industries.

Risers is the only startup accelerator platform in the world where every mentor has relevant, pragmatic and inspiring experience. Diversity is its power, experience its strength and knowledge its weapon. And, when it comes to ethics and transparency, the values the members have imbibed enhance confidence in their strategic mission.

We have so far invested in Sprout Studios (animation, VFX), Cosmeto Food (eatable organic cosmetic products), Zeleno (reverse-vending machines) and Playtoome (tech-enabled entertainment platform).

What is the typical ticket size of the seed capital for each of the startups that you shortlist, and the duration of the accelerator programme (hand-holding period)?

The typical ticket size of the seed capital is Rs 50 lakh and the duration of the accelerator programme is three years.

Which sectors, in your view, are capital-starved in India and need incubation, and how is Risers planning to tap this potential?

Risers have a vision to remain focused only on those sectors which have a positive impact on the society. So, any area that is seeing a positive change is where Risers would like to be available at.

The sectors could be agritech, clean water solutions, renewable energy, technology and fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG), among others. We are more focused on bringing a positive change in the society rather than restricting ourselves to being industry-specific.

Sector-specific and partnership-driven accelerators have been gaining more traction in the Indian start up ecosystem since the last couple of years. How has been the scenario during this pandemic?

During the pandemic, we are seeing a great shift from highly funded startups to self-sustainable startup models, wherein we could see that lot of startups were self-sufficient. For instance, Cosmeto Food did really well because they had a presence in the e-commerce space, while companies which were virtual like Sprout Studios saw significant increase in usage.

As far as Risers Accelerator is concerned, we were not really that impacted because the invested companies were pretty stable within their chosen domains. But yes, as a scenario overall, a lot of startups have suffered due to losses because they could not anticipate. Right now, the dynamics have changed. The startups need to come up with long-term anticipation rather than just doing it on a daily basis.

Has Risers infused investments in any startups that have developed solutions to tackle Covid 19?

Not at the moment but there are startups like Cosmeto Foods, which have developed their entire line of Covid-related stuff like sanitisers. It is already a portfolio company and we are working very closely with them. But we have not made any investments in this period.

What are the initiatives that Risers is taking to meet the short and mid-term needs of Indian startups arising amid the global pandemic situation?

There are a number of challenges that the startups are facing amid the pandemic, and as an organisation that is committed to providing all the necessary support to the innovative startups that can shape the future of the business industry, Risers Accelerator is providing those much-needed solutions.

For instance, many young startups are struggling with liquidity issues and we have helped the startups under our umbrella to set up cash war rooms to counter those issues. We're also helping them to manage their resources efficiently and maintain transparency with their vendors and other stakeholders to avoid any confusion. These are tough times, and a hand-holding approach can help fresh startups find a way through the maze.

What is the USP that makes Risers stand out in the already-crowded early stage investment space in India?

From smooth flow of funds to avoiding every hassle in operations to fostering the company's growth with proven marketing gimmicks, and maintaining the growth pace with effective HR strategies to stabilise its position in the market with adequate legal support, Risers Accelerator offers a complete package of services to startups and ascertain their speedy and sustainable growth.

We connect startups to opportunities and help them scale their businesses. Through smart assistance, we empower their passion and help them find a way to achieve newer feats. In short, we at Risers strategically remove all the barriers that come in the way of these startups and impede them to grow.

It's crucial to understand and know where to spend your money so that it can spawn fruitful results. But that stage comes later. First, you need to have that money in your hand. Many startups have ground-breaking ideas but fail to implement them due to inadequate resources. Risers does all of that.

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