Investors can invest at the click of a button in listed companies through the NSE/BSE and purchase stocks based on the company's track record. However, startups are unlisted companies with innovative ideas and motivation to solve people's problems, clocking unprecedented growth. Investing in them is not easy and always has a challenge of fair valuation in the absence of peers and past track records.
Earlier, only private equity firms and venture capitalists bought equity in early-stage startups at substantial initial investments. With time and technological advancement and the changes in the market environment, even retail investors can participate in these markets. Becoming an angel investor involves finding the right investment platform, choosing quality startups, and investing money directly in the startups.
Let us explore startup funding opportunities and how retail investors can benefit from them.
India's startup ecosystem has seen unprecedented growth in recent years. As of October 2023, India had the third largest startup ecosystem. There were 111 unicorns in India, with a valuation of USD 349.67 billion.
After a particular stage in the startup journey, entrepreneurs actively seek equity financing instead of business loans or family financing. Equity financing allows startups to raise capital by selling some of their company stock to investors. The angel investors and venture capitalists who invest in the startup get ownership interests. These angel investors will make money when the startup goes public, or there is a secondary sale.
Equity funding provides a long runway for startups, which may take time before they start generating income. Venture capital firms trust the startup’s idea and the team behind it to disrupt the market dynamics and capture the market share. These venture capitalists invest in the startup and actively improve the concept to bring an improvised product to the market.
The key benefits of equity funding for entrepreneurs are:
Some of the pros and cons for startup investors are:
As per the Economic Survey 2023, changes in the Indian startup funding options and support from the government have resulted in reverse flipping, where startups shift their bases from overseas to India. Indian youth are trying to become problem solvers in the healthcare, agriculture, education, and financial sectors, and Tier-2/Tier-3 cities in India are becoming the startup hubs.
The renewed interest in the startup investment market provides multiple options for entrepreneurs to raise funds for their startups; starting from the seeding stage, startups look for angel investors, venture capitalists, and private equity firms to raise funding capital in multiple stages. Generally, the valuation of the startups continues to increase after each series of funding. Most successful startups' final destination is to launch their IPO and go public. Some standard non-traditional funding options for startups are as follows:
Key characteristics of angel investors, venture capitalists, and crowdfunding are:
For retail investors, startup equity investments can be advantageous but highly risky. Using digital platforms, retail investors can take a piece of non-listed companies for a small ticket size instead of investing crores like angel investors or venture capitalists. Investors may see quick returns based on the startup's growth.
There are many potential paths for startup investments, each offering a different opportunity.
Retail investors can position themselves for intelligent and calculated investment decisions within the dynamic world of startups by methodically following these strategic guidelines.
Investing in startups during their early growth stage can be a risky but rewarding decision. Retail investors can take advantage of the potential value of a business before it comes up with an IPO. For investment success, investors should ensure that they invest in thoroughly vetted startups backed by leading venture capitalists. Also, investing through SEBI-approved alternative investment funds (AIFs) provides security to equity funding investments. With the right investment platform, retail investors can carefully choose the right startup to invest in and gain substantial returns.
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