MyFirstCheque, a seed-stage sector-agnostic fund that is looking to back startups at the inception stage, has made its debut investment in MeriCAR.com, an online auto portal that seeks to provide car servicing solutions to owners, founded by Rakesh Sidana.
MyFirstCheque, which as the name suggests literally cuts the first cheque for the investee company, will typically look at an average investment of Rs 20 lakh in a startup. The fund is eyeing an equity stake between 15% and 25% in its portfolio firms.
MeriCAR.com helps car owners to search the neighbourhood car service centre, connect to the right car workshop and save on car servicing bill. The company is associated with BOSCH, Maruti Authorized Service Startion, Castrol Pitstop and others in New Delhi and NCR region. Founder Rakesh Sidana, an Information Technology and management graduate with over 13 years experience, has worked with B2B portal IndiaMart previously.
Founded by entrepreneur Gautam Sinha (who operated TVA Infotech) along with his friends Monisha Advani (co-founder of executive search firm EmmayHR acquired by global leader Randstad Holding) and Prahlad Rao (Thomson Assessments Pvt Ltd director), MyFirstCheque follows the co-fun model of investing or the fund occupying a role akin to a co-founder in its investee. So, the focus is on hands-on execution.
“Being an entrepreneur I could feel the struggle to reach investors to start a new company. We are not sector centric. We welcome any startup company with good business model,” says Sinha.
An XLRI graduate, Sinha’s entrepreneurial career has seen its share of ups and downs. He started out in 1996 with a company called Team Value Associate, an IT staffing firm that collapsed in the dotcom crash in 1999. His next venture, coolden.com, a 3-D website and a community-focussed children’s dotcom, too crashed due to unavailability of external funding. In 2000, he set up TVA Infotech, an IT recruitment firm, which survived and went on to become a major player in this space thanks to frenetic demand for human resources in the Indian IT services’ peak growth phase early last decade. In 2008, TVA Infotech got acquired by US-based Allegis Group Inc .
The Indian early stage investment ecosystem has seen a couple of new entrants in recent times such as Morpheus Venture partners (that invests about Rs 5 lakh in a startup), Grow VC (a crowd funding programme) and Kolkata-based Seeders (that invests Rs 5 lakh to Rs 25 lakh in technology startups). Apart from these, there are organised angel networks such as Mumbai Angels, Chennai Fund and Indian Angel Network that are active in early stage investing.
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