Hyderabad: Indian startup ecosystem is going through a lot of changes as well as picking up momentum in the last few years. One of the core requirements for these startups, particularly, those in the early stage to scale up is the right amount of funding at the right time.
Unitus Seed Fund, a venture capital company, which has been supporting early stage-startups with seed capital, has been seeing significant funding opportunities in the last 3-4 years in biotechnology and healthcare space in India. The company has earmarked a Rs 100-crore fund in the coming years in the healthcare space.
Unitus invests in early-stage startups in sectors such as education, healthcare and financial technology that have significant potential for scale, delivering profits as well as benefits to society. Within the healthcare space, the company has funded startups that are working in the areas of breast cancer, artificial intelligence for cancer treatment, ophthalmic care for diabetes patients and primary health for children and students.
Unitus’ past investments include education technology startups such as Awign, CueMath and HippoCampus, healthcare firms like Addresshealth, UE Lifesciences and microlending platform Milaap and last mile logistics platform Blowhorn among others.
Unitus Seed Fund venture partner Milind Shah, told Telangana Today, “We have a rich pipeline. Companies come to us for funding from so many different areas that include- medical technology, artificial intelligence, web/app based solutions, home health and tele-health.”
Majority of the startups are looking at improving access to healthcare and medicines/vaccines, help reduce the costs, develop new technologies that can radically change the way treatments are made and diagnosis is done.
“The biotechnology and healthcare space is going to be promising in the coming years as the ecosystem is evolving with insurance adoption increasing and the Centre keen on improving healthcare access. Our focus is on seed capital. We hold hands with startups through Series A and Series B funding stages. Selectively, we also go up to Series A and Series B. We help startups to get the right team to be successful. We will stick mostly to seed funding in future and most likely co-invest in Series A and Series B funding,” he informed.
Shah said as new technologies evolve, investor community is increasingly required to develop deep domain knowledge. The criteria to identify the potential of a startup is to look at what is the problem that is being addressed, how big is the problem, what is the uniqueness of the solution that the startup founder (s) is bringing to the table, what could be the challenges in scaling up this solution (is there an adoption challenge?), the strength of the founding team (do they have the needed mix of talent to run the stop successfully).
Venture capital companies should have either knowledge of the domain or access to it to support startups scale up in their respective businesses.
When asked if the venture capitalists give any weightage for funding a startup if it is based in an incubator, Shah responded, “For an investor, though the decision to fund a startup doesn’t fully swing in their favour if they are based in an incubator, however, the infrastructure and network that incubators provide makes the VC funding more comfortable.”