Illustration: Rahul Awasthi
Illustration: Rahul Awasthi

Rajiv Srivatsa, the co-founder and former chief technology and product officer at online furniture and home decor retailer Urban Ladder, has been named partner and India head for Singapore-based early-stage venture capital firm Antler.

The development comes a little over seven months after Srivatsa announced that he was stepping away from the day-to-day operations at Bengaluru-headquartered Urban Ladder, which he had co-founded with Ashish Goel in 2012.

Founded in 2017 by former McKinsey, Zalora and Rocket Internet senior executive Magnus Grimeland, along with a team of entrepreneurs and investors, Antler’s investment model loosely resembles that of famed Silicon Valley-based accelerator Y Combinator and Berlin-headquartered startup incubator and investor Rocket Internet.

According to Srivatsa, Antler India will look to kickstart its first cohort of startups by the end of the current calendar year, with the IIT Madras and IIM Bangalore alum also tasked with raising an India-dedicated fund that is expected to back an estimated 40 early-stage ventures within its first year of operations.

“I know what entrepreneurs or founders go through to understand what the entire process of entrepreneurship takes, as well as that very early product-market fit… It’s a great fit for where my strength lies, and where the gap in the market is,” Srivatsa told ET over a phone call.

According to him, Antler will have two cohorts every six months, starting in Bengaluru, before expanding across the country. The early-stage VC firm will work with potential entrepreneurs, starting from the ideation stage, introduce possible co-founders, fine-tune their business models and go-to-market strategy, among others.

The sector-agnostic investment firm will provide stipends for the selected entrepreneurs over a 10-week period, a group that will get further whittled down, with the final list of entrepreneurs invited to build their ventures.

Antler, which is present in eight cities across the globe, is likely to invest between $100,000-$150,000 in the final selection of startups, post the 10-week stage, in exchange for an equity stake in them. However, the investment amount may differ from market to market.

“We want to lower the barriers for exceptional people to start a technology company, regardless of their background or geography. Over the next 5 years, India is expected to be the third largest market and grow into a $5 trillion economy, fuelling a much higher growth for the digital economy,” Grimeland, chief executive of Antler, said in a prepared statement.

“if we can get 100 people every year, groomed far better, to build 50 companies, which, at the time of going to Series A, are stronger on quality, clearer on vision and what they want to achieve, I think it’s a job well done at the root of entrepreneurship ecosystem,” Srivatsa said.

Srivatsa will continue being on the board of Urban Ladder, which has raised over $100 million in funding from investors, such as Steadview Capital, SAIF Partners and Sequoia Capital and TR Capital, among others.

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