Lead Angels – An Angel for the entrepreneurs

Sushanto Mitra.JPGIt is really strange to think when an individual who promotes entrepreneurship has to go through the same process himself. It is like when an interviewer has to be on the other side of the desk. Mr. Sushanto Mitra, Founder & CEO, of Lead Angels had to face similar situation.

He was associated with SINE (IIT, Bombay) for five years; a platform to support technology startups founded by IIT Bombay community or is based on IIT Bombay technologies. He was involved in mentoring startups in their early stages to help them grow further. When he left SINE, he was saddened to be detached from the IIT family. That’s when the idea about creating an angel investing network for the IITians was conceived. He realized that along with funding, what startups really seek is mentorship and industry connections. To support this initiative he thought of starting Lead Angels, one of the first alumni angel network in India that has been founded by a team from IITB.

While this idea was shaping up in his mind, like other entrepreneurs he too was apprehensive about leaving a fixed income job. Inspite of being a mentor to multiple start-ups while at SINE, he was facing the dilemma of starting this new venture. Finally, during his visit to East Europe he met many angel investors and realized the potential of his idea. He figured, that for a population of 5.5 million in Finland there were over 500 angels providing investment support. So for a country like India with a population of more than a billion should have atleast a hundred thousand business angels. However, currently this market is under tapped.  That’s when he finally decided to start Lead Angel network along with his other ex-colleagues from IIT Bombay.

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The main aim of this network is to provide initial funding to new age start-ups and to provide them the network of investors who can guide them. Lead Angels have a partnership with Techstars, 10,000 start-ups, e-cell at IITB, TIE, NASSCOM  and many other such leading organizations in this domain. This platform helps students and early stage innovators solve problem of capital requirements, so that they can focus better on improving their ideas. Post investment, Lead Angels also helps portfolio companies connect with potential clients and partners.

Due to his past experience with SINE, Sushanto had the right knowledge, connections and experience of over 15 years in the startup ecosystem which helped him with Lead Angels. He had to put in efforts to gather investors and build up trust among them about the feasibility of his idea. However, this challenge was also tackled by gathering a pool of IIT alumni who were willing to invest in new ideas. This strategic thinking by Sushanto gave him confidence to launch his company and made it a success in short span of time with operations in New Delhi, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Mumbai. Lead Angels has invested in 10 startups from 2014 onwards and has over 100 plus members majority of whom are successful entrepreneurs and senior executives.

Lead Angels has grown from being a just an angel network of IITians and is now expanding into the area of entrepreneurship education having jointly done some programs with Techstars. Sushanto already had faith in innovative ideas and new ventures thought by various students. However, after the success of his venture, Sushanto advices young entrepreneurs that: no dream is silly enough to throw away, of course, if your eyes are wide open.

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Oston Skates – Roller coaster life of an entrepreneur

A young entrepreneur who started his journey from a small town in Jaipur, has been termed as a young innovator of the city. Sayar Singh, who came from a mediocre family had curiosity and fervor to create new products which can bring change in the society. He started innovating new ideas and products at the age of twelve and founded the company Oston Tech Pvt. Ltd along with other co-founders. By the age of 18 he already had 32 innovations and 5 pending patents in his name. His innovations to name a few range from various technical gadgets like Drone, Measurement Apparatus to security systems like Locks to alert the police department and the owner in insecure conditions, Fuel Management system which prevents fuel filing station from fire etc.

Sayar is a serial innovator and has zeal to keep bringing new idea and products to the market. However, currently he has taken sabbatical from his Oston Tech Pvt. Ltd. due to lack of funds to support his research and production of the products.

One of the most significant and revolutionizing innovation by Sayar Singh is ‘Oston Skates’. These skates are designed so as to take the skates to a next level which enhances the jerk absorbing capacity of the skates. The USP of these skates is the suspension system which is supported by a spring mechanism. It has ability to absorb more than 75% of shock. This enhances speed and mobility of the skates along with controlling balance based on the body position. These can be used for long as well as short distance. What made Sayar think about this innovation is to address the problems faced by many skaters while skating on road or on a rough area.

Oston Skates Features

Oston Skates Features

There are around 12 features of Oston Skates which make them unique and innovative. Few of them can be listed as below:
• It can run anywhere on rough and uneven surface.
• It has got shock absorption capacity of around 75%.
• It has well designed balancing system and brake system which helps in maintaining the balance.
• In ordinary skates person has to bend his knees and legs for higher speed. This causes joint pains, however in Oston skates it has oscillation point in the wheels which helps to maintain comfortable position.
• Spring mechanism and the brake system allows to do skating in decline position.
• The overall mechanism helps to enhance speed and it can also cross hurdles in 90 degree position.

These skates mechanism has many applications to improve the performance and efficiency of emergency vehicles. The concept is applicable in automobiles and the first implementation for the same is skates. The jerk free or shock absorption mechanism can be used in motor vehicles to reduce accidents in case of sudden brake application. For ambulances, with jerk free technology, treatment inside the vans could be more effective saving time at those crucial moments in the patient’s life.

Currently, Sayar and team has filed for patent application in European Patent Office for their unique innovation. The patent grant is still awaited and the team is working on developing or improving the design further. Marketing team is working to chalk out marketing strategy which can help to position these skates in right market segment and can beat the competition.

What Sayar and team plans next is to produce these skates on a large scale so as to achieve economies of scale to bring down the costs and make it available to as many market segments as possible. For this he requires funding of around $225,000. A good idea with a perfect marketing strategy in place is useless if it is not fueled with appropriate funds.
Many entrepreneurs and innovators like Sayar has to face hardships in order to make their idea worth. Backing by proper fund managers and investors can make their idea worthwhile and help contribute to the GDP of the country. Otherwise their life will be a roller coaster ride as on the skating wheels!

Contributed by my colleague, Snehal Mahajan

Sharing our journey so far and move to the new office!!

While all of you would have expected me to write my usual blog on innovation, this week I would like to share our joy of moving to a new office today.

Its been an interesting ride for us at Scinnovation, the company which I cofounded on 25th April 2005 in Mumbai along with my spouse, Trishla.

Starting with a focus on Executive Search whereby we recruited top end R&D talent whereby Indians in USA & Europe were looking at opportunities to come back to India which also led to an interesting opportunity to work with National Knowledge Commission (NKC) under Prime Minister Office to create a knowledge base of Scientists & Technologists of Indian origin.

But deep inside, I have always wanted to work directly with Innovators and help them take their ideas to the market!!

So I took a sabbatical and joined Villgro Innovation Foundation, a social incubator based in Chennai and worked directly with Grass root Innovators, Students as also Entrepreneurs to help shape their ideas and forge partnerships between Innovators & Entrepreneurs.

In the meanwhile, the undersigned qualified as a Patent Agent with Indian Patent Office and then Scinnovation was reborn on 01st April 2010.

Scinnovation is now a full fledged Intellectual Property (IP) protection, consulting and monetisation firm headquartered in Mumbai with associates across India & USA.

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We help our clients protect their ideas, advice on the best business strategy for their IP / intangible assets, create awareness by speaking and writing about interesting topics and looking at ways in which we can partner with Individual Innovators and create a robust business model to take their idea to the market.

We have also been lucky to have received great testimonials from leading luminaries for our book, Protect Your Ideas a handbook on Intellectual Property now available as a free e-book for download on our site.
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And today marks another beginning in this journey with our move to shift to a new fully serviced office in the heart of South Mumbai at Churchgate.

With an expanding business and expanding team, we have to climb many more mountains but most importantly to help the Innovator, Creative & Design community in their dreams of making the world a better place!!!