Ankur Capital Advisors: Get your Hands Dirty, Innovate and Create a Value for Everyone in India

Ritu Verma, Co-Founder, Managing Partner, Ankur Capital Advisors
Wednesday, October 8, 2014
Ritu Verma, Co-Founder, Managing Partner, Ankur Capital Advisors
New ideas and a new generation of entrepreneurs are going to be the drivers of change in India. As an impact focused investor, we at Ankur Capital look for those entrepreneurs that can build value and wealth bottom up, inclusively. We look for start-ups that address some of the core sectors in India � agriculture, health, education. For example one of our health companies, ERC Eyecare targets quality eye-care for x million people. We believe that there are enough opportunities out there to build successful companies while impacting the lives of a billion people.

What is exciting about this is that it immediately puts us in touch with two entrepreneurial ecosystems, one that is informal � 'jugaadu' and all the things that label us as an entrepreneurial nation. The other is the more nascent one in in which entrepreneurs are looking to build institutions and grow professional companies. The good news is that the latter is growing. Today perhaps more than ever it is all right to be an entrepreneur.

These sectors have traditionally not seen start-ups. They have been the purview of enterprising folks who over time have built small enterprises, creating a fragmented, and entrenched system of operations. An entrepreneur entering this space anew needs to innovate and bring value that leaps over the current system and looks beyond. They cannot do this in isolation and need to understand the ground realities and incorporate the best of it into their new ideas. CropIn, one of our investees successfully addresses challenges in agri-supply chains with mobile technology that bypasses many traditional modes of operation. The entrepreneurs who are most successful at this are ones that fully understand these systems and then innovate to address its deficiencies.

If the challenge of execution is not enough it is compounded by many other ecosystem gaps. Funding for such entrepreneurs remains a challenge. Banks are off bounds and traditional investors stay away. Role models are scarce as are headline grabbing exits. Moreover recruitment remains a big challenge. Sometimes the scattered geography of such entrepreneurs limit access to whatever scattered ecosystem support that is available.

There has been however many changes over the last five years and more ecosystem players - connectors, websites, business plan competitions, and incubators, amongst others have sprung up. This should grow in the coming years.

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