It 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.
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.