Indian Angels Search of Heavens and Startups Abroad

Originally published online at ETSmallBiz.com

CHENNAI, August 10, 2015 (Economic Times): Angel investor and founder of Sify, R Ramaraj, is said to be keen on promoting local entrepreneurship. But he is keeping an eye out for ideas that can crack the Western market, as demonstrated by leading a Rs 3 crore ($500,000) round into Brainstorm Health, an Indian-helmed US startup that makes fitness apps for gyms.

"It's B to B to C. Its founders are Indian but the market is clearly the US," said Ramaraj, adding that entrepreneurs with Indian roots gunning for a foothold in the largest startup ecosystem were a breed angels have actively scouted over the years.

While foreign venture and seed funds have hotfooted it to India, fueling fledglings to unicorns in fields such as ecommerce and taxi transport, the reverse is also true with Indian investors consistently putting money in overseas startup.  Indian angels - from Indian Angel Network to regional ones such as The Chennai Angels and Keiretsu Forum, the latest entrant with a 1,500-member strong investor community- have deals in the due-diligence or just-completed stages with overseas-headquartered startups, but with a strong Indian connect.  It could be the entrepreneur with Indian roots, a product development centre in the country, or intent to enter the homeland with its idea.

“We designed it that way,” said Rajan Srikanth, CoPresident of Keiretsu Forum- Chennai and Singapore.  The Chennai chapter is close to completing four deals in US based startups, offering its investors, many of them first times, to partake of arms that have had due-diligence rounds with several other Keiretsu chapters before Chennai.

“Historically, it was believed angel investments were local investments, because it helps the investor breath down their necks, and of course help them.  Plenty of investors have not ventured beyond local geographies because the perceived risk is high.  If we can ease their concerns with a strong due-diligence system, angel investing can be global,” he said.

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