Keiretsu Forum opens its first India chapter in Chennai

Originally published in Business Standard, Article by Gireesh Babu

Keiretsu Forum, a global angel investor network with 1,400 accredited members, has forayed into India by opening a chapter in this city. The soft launch was on December 5, 2014 but the chapter will be officially launched on February 6 this year. With this, the Silicon Valley-based network will have 34 chapters across three continents.

"The Forum would offer international connectivity to investors and companies seeking angel investment, which means it would broaden the opportunities for them," said Rajan Srikanth, co-president of Keiretsu Forum Chennai & Singapore. He added the Forum would help angel investors evaluate the deals in a better way, using the expertise from members across the world.

For instance, an angel investor in Chennai might not be able to invest in a start-up if there is no tool to evaluate the deal. "In the Forum, probably there might be somebody in the US or some other part of the world who might have already explored similar opportunities and might help investors here to evaluate the deal. It will increase the opportunities for both the investor and the start-up to work together," said Srikanth.

A SNAPSHOT
  • Keiretsu Forum was founded in San Francisco East Bay in 2000
  • It has 34 chapters in 3 continents and around 1,400 members
  • US members have invested close to $500 mn in 450 companies
  • Indian members will provide early-stage capital of Rs 50 lakh-5 crore
  • Syndication to chapters worldwide, can help firms raise up to $10 mn

Globally, Keiretsu Forum works through franchisees. One franchisee is allowed to open up to four chapters. The franchisee team behind the Chennai chapter is set to soft-launch a chapter in Singapore on February 5.

The Chennai and Singapore chapters will work together and will have meetings connecting the investors and companies at both places. The activities of the Forum will include bringing academia into it.

The Chennai chapter has already got the Indian Institute of Technology-Madras and Anna University as members.It is expected to start operations with 15 members, of which 10 have signed up. Each chapter will have a cap of 150 members.

The franchisee team is also planning to open chapters in Bengaluru and Hyderabad later this year and next year, respectively, said Srikanth.

The Forum is registered as a for-profit company, which will work as a facilitator for angel investors and companies. The franchisee will charge a nominal fee and will pay royalty to the global Forum.

The Indian angel investment segment is witnessing a growth phase with successful entrepreneurs as well as professionals investing money, time and expertise to nurture promising start-ups.

While the Chennai chapter will create a network for like-minded investors, it will also be a platform for angel investors to network with other investors and start-ups internationally, said Srikanth, who is also the managing director of SmartKapital, a venture services advisory firm.