Propel(x) founder and CEO Swati Chaturvedi participated in the 363rd One Million by One Million (1Mby1M) Round Table for Entrepreneurs. The video podcast was hosted by Sramana Mitra, a serial entrepreneur and the owner of 1Mby1M, the first global virtual accelerator. A LinkedIn influencer and strategy consultant, Mitra’s goal is to democratize entrepreneurship education, helping one million entrepreneurs raise one million dollars annually. She led the discussion on trends in the information technology startup market.
The conversation began with an introduction to Propel(x). Chaturvedi explained the goal of the company: to help fund early stage deep technology startups through private investments from angel investors and venture capitalists. Deep technology startups, she elaborated, are companies founded through scientific discovery or meaningful engineering innovations.
When asked how companies join the Propel(x) network, Chaturvedi detailed the screening process used to qualify hopeful startups. Each startup must be founded on a scientific breakthrough or technical solution capable of redefining or creating new markets. “In addition,” she continued, “We have two basic requirements: the startup team must be full-time with a committed CEO, and apply to the platform with at least one accredited investor and pre-negotiated terms.”
The discussion shifted to focus on the influx of startups founded on innovations in artificial intelligence and information technology. These startups typically require a smaller investment to exit – an attractive quality for many angel investors. Chaturvedi noted that angel investors have tended to avoid larger opportunities because of increased competition with venture capital firms. If millions are poured into a startup from larger institutions after the first round of funding is met, the equity an angel investor has shrinks considerably. Therefore, smaller companies are preferable to angels. However, that trend might change as we go along and the angel investing world is enlarged.
The conversation concluded with an open discussion of how entrepreneurs in deep technology can better their chances for success within the angel investment community. Chaturvedi and Mitra agreed the most promising early stage startups prioritize customer acquisition from inception. By “bootstrapping,” or building a business without external funding, young companies are able to prove their value to investors before they even require funding. Mitra believes this approach gives entrepreneurs additional leverage when sourcing lending. After all, “No one is going to fund entrepreneurs chasing investors rather than customers.”
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