In early February, Prashant Bagga took to Twitter with a proposition. He was looking to invest $10,000-15,000 in startups. While he knew the offer would likely stir the startup pot, the enormity of the response surprised even him. Hundreds of young entrepreneurs, each with their own, unique startup ideas, slid into his DMs.
“80% of these ideas seemed shady. But I did meet at least 15 interesting founders,” says Bagga. Formerly a product manager at Microsoft, he is now a part-time investor, investing Rs 2-8 lakh per deal. Bagga also serves as a product manager at Bridgeup, an investment platform that was founded just last year.
On a Zoom call with The Ken, Bagga explains that when he returned from the US in 2020 after “earning a bit of money” from his high-paying Microsoft gig, he saw an opportunity to invest in upcoming startups. He built his network, he says, on the back of “viral” LinkedIn posts, a podcast called A Billion Moonshots and, of course, his near-constant Twitter engagement. He’s routed his following now to a 300-strong WhatsApp group.
Bagga is only a few deals in—he won’t specify how many. Still, he is already a part of the definitive zeitgeist in India’s startup investment ecosystem. What was once a charmed circle of high-net-worth individuals (HNIs) and successful Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, angel investors are now a diverse mix. Almost anyone with some capital to spare is trying their hand, writing cheques as small as Rs 5,000 ($66) and as large as Rs 1 crore (~$133,000) for seed-stage investments.
The number of angel investment deals spiked from 89 in the year ended July 2020 to 183 in the 12 months since. According to startup database Tracxn, Rs 746 crore Rs 746 crore Fortune India More Than Just An Angel Read more ($99 million) was raised in seed funding deals in 2021 alone, an all-time high for India’s startup ecosystem. This increase was spurred in no small part by the bumper returns venture capitalists pocketed during the same period— $3.7 billion $3.7 billion The Indian Private Equity & Venture Capital Association The Indian Private Equity & Venture Capital Association Report Read more .
This new wave of angel investors harbour little fear about losing their investment in an early-stage startup. Instead, they are driven by immense hope in an outlier outcome—where an investment yields a 10-100X return. It’s a sentiment that investment platforms like Tyke Invest and PODWorld have cashed in on.