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A New Angel for Startups

Christo Jacob
Friday, December 7, 2007
Christo Jacob
Cracking the traditional model of the venture capitalist, today, Jasvir Gill, co-founder of Start-Up Farms International (SUFI) is betting on a new model to fund companies—a redeemer for new startups to be successful.

It is a challenge for an entrepreneur to establish a successful startup in the very first attempt. Hence, Gill has adopted a new model to aid these companies where SUFI’s role is like an angel investor. Unlike venture capitalists, Gill’s SUFI will provide guidance to the new startups in their overall strategy, positioning of the market, networking with the right partners, and helping them identify the right industry and right customers.

Headquartered in Fremont, SUFI has funded three companies till now. Its 50,000 square feet headquarters houses all these three companies and is actively involved in all aspects of the new startups’ operations. For instance, right from a startup’s infrastructure needs to HR, accounting, legal issues, and sales and marketing strategy Gill and his team will take initiative for it. This, Gill says is a ‘differentiator,’ resulting in savings of about 50 percent of the company revenues, which in turn provides financial cushion for these startups.

Also, they do not have robust and scalable technology platforms. Hence, SUFI provides for architecting and marketing these products making it easier and faster to deploy them. It also suggests on which events or conferences these startups should have a representation. SUFI targets those companies that do not have any assistance of other venture capitalists.

The idea to evolve such a model dates back to Gill’s days as an entrepreneur. Gill founded Virsa Systems, a cross-enterprise compliance solutions company, in 1996. He was successful in convincing SAP to resell Virsa’s products—a bold step which no other entrepreneur had previously dared to attempt. According to Gill, prior to SAP reselling Virsa’s software, the average sales price was $200,000. But, when SAP started reselling, they were able to get four times the average sales price of what Virsa was getting. As Virsa was successful in attracting a big giant like SAP, today the other partners of SAP consider SUFI a role model. Looking at Virsa Systems’ potential, SAP has acquired Virsa for an undisclosed amount to strengthen its position in corporate compliance and risk management software.

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