Kunal Shah, founder of fintech unicorn Cred was India’s most active angel investor with 54 bets in 2022, followed by wearables brand boAt’s co-founder Aman Gupta and Anupam Mittal, founder of Mumbai-based People Group, the parent of matrimony portal Shaadi.com, according to data from startup and private deal intelligence platform Tracxn.
Gupta and Mittal backed 34 and 32 startups during the year, respectively. Peyush Bansal, the co-founder of Lenskart, was in the fourth spot with 26 deals.
Shah invested in Kredmint, Growth School, Allo Health, PickYourTrail and Gold Setu, among others, besides backing a few overseas startups, including Lista in the Philippines, and Jovian in the US.
Shah has been appearing on the list of top five angels (by volumes) for the last three years. In 2021, he topped with 108 deals, the data showed. Shah did not respond to queries for the story.
Shah started backing other startups after selling the payments platform Freecharge to Snapdeal in 2015 in a ₹2,800-crore cash and stock deal.
To be sure, the Tracxn data is based on the number of deals and does not track angels based on the amount invested. Also, investors who have set up their family offices, or invest through seed or venture capital funds, as well as angel investment networks, do not feature in the dataset, which lists only individual angel investments.
Furthermore, Gupta, Mittal and Bansal are ‘Sharks’ on the Indian edition of global ‘Shark Tank’ show, a format that lends itself to angel investing. Shark Tank allows investors to issue cheques ranging from a few lakhs to a few crores, allowing them to invest in a larger set of companies.
The show’s judges, including BharatPe’s Ashneer Grover and Emcure Pharmaceuticals CFO Namita Thapar, were also active angels with 22 and 18 deals this year, respectively.
The show rejigged the list of top investors, according to the number of deals in the last few years.
In 2021, Snapdeal’s Kunal Bahl was at second position with 72 deals flanked by Shah at the top with his 108 bets, and Rohit Bansal, the co-founder of SnapDeal at No 3 with 75 investments. At the fourth spot was Homespace unicorn Livspace founder Ramakant Sharma with 39 investments.
The Snapdeal founders (who invest out of their investment vehicle Titan Capital) as well as Sharma continue to bet significantly as angels.
Between 2017 and 2022, the top listers have been replaced by new and more active angels. Founder of Quatrro Global Services, Raman Roy, was the top active angel for three years in a row during 2017-2019. Rajan Anandan, managing director, Sequoia Capital, held the second position in 2017 and 2018.
While the total number of investments by the three most active angel investors individually was at 11-24 deals between 2017 and 2019, in 2021, it went up to 75-108 deals. However, in 2022, it is down to 32-54.
Over the years, founders of Indian businesses have stepped in to invest in early-stage startups, while initially seed money was typically contributed by family and friends of founders. However, as the Indian startup ecosystem matured, founders came forward to support other entrepreneurs in their journey.
Some such as Droom Technology’s founder Sandeep Aggarwal and Eruditus’ co-founder Ashwin Damera set up family offices to help India’s startup ecosystem grow.
“When you grow up in a country like India, I feel there are oceans of poverty and small islands of prosperity. Thanks to my entrepreneurial journey, I may be in the island-of-prosperity bucket. But, it is our duty to help more people come on from the oceans of poverty,” Damera said in an interview last month.
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