Aim & Shoot: Now, Here’s a Mar­ket­place for Pho­tog­ra­phers

The Economic Times - - Power Of Ideas -

IAN added 75 mem­bers last year and 45 in the year prior.

Sea­soned an­gel in­vestors fear there could be sev­eral down­sides to this trend.

For one, pas­sive first-time in­vestors in star­tups could be seek­ing merely to make a quick buck, which would trans­late to money com­ing in with­out adding any value to early-stage com­pa­nies in terms of men­tor­ing or net­work­ing. It would be worse if the new an­gel in­vestors lack an un­der­stand­ing of startup in­vest­ments as an as­set class.

“A large num­ber of peo­ple with an ap­petite to in­vest want to in­vest in only a cou­ple of star­tups, putting aside Rs 20 lakh to Rs 30 lakh per an­num. I see such peo­ple get­ting very up­set when their (in­vestee) com­pa­nies fail. More of this may slow down in­cre­men­tal in­vest­ments,” said Ra­man Roy, chair­man at Qu­a­trro Global Ser­vices who made his first an­gel in­vest­ment as part of IAN in 2006 in a startup called Knowcross So­lu­tions.

Mit­tal of Peo­ple Group, which runs and and is an in­vestor in Ola and Druva, paints a more dis­mal pic­ture.

“By the end of this year, we will see pres­sure build­ing on th­ese (new in­vestors) and many peo­ple may stop an­gel in­vest­ing al­to­gether,” he said. “It’s very easy to write cheques of a few lakh ru­pees and see a few com­pa­nies rais­ing $100-150 mil­lion and be­lieve that your com­pany will too. But when you are faced with the prospect that your com­pany will shut down, that’s a very tough pill to swal­low.”

An­gel groups are erect­ing bar­ri­cades to keep out non-se­ri­ous in­vestors. Mum­bai An­gels will not give mem­ber­ships to those who can­not qual­ify as high net-worth in­di­vid­u­als and do not have good ref­er­ences and solid do­main experience. “We don’t want to let in peo­ple who want to be in just for ed­u­ca­tion or for net­work­ing,” said Prashant Chok­sey, co­founder of Mum­bai An­gels. “We are look­ing for peo­ple with enough risk ap­petite—those who are com­fort­able los­ing money and not their sleep.”

For older an­gel in­vestors, too, the game has changed. Al­though their abil­ity and will­ing­ness to write cheques has not di­min­ished, many of them are turn­ing cau­tious and slow­ing down on deal-mak­ing.

“It’s a f light to qual­ity deals,” said Mit­tal. “I have cer­tainly be­come much more se­lec­tive. In the last 12 to 15 months, ev­ery­one was ba­si­cally in­vest­ing more out of the (fear of miss­ing out on in­vest­ing in) the next Uni­corn (star­tups es­ti­mated to be worth at least $1 bil­lion). Now, peo­ple are tak­ing a lit­tle bit of breather to cul­ti­vate strong th­e­ses on whether and where to in­vest,” said Mit­tal, who plans to strike about 10 deals this year as com­pared with 18 last year.

Sev­eral in­vestors do be­lieve, how­ever, that while the mad­ness of 2015 that saw record deals be­ing struck at sky-high val­u­a­tions will not re­turn, this year could be good for se­ri­ous an­gel in­vestors in for the long haul. Af­ter all, val­u­a­tions are be­gin­ning to cool, metoo en­trepreneurs are dis­ap­pear­ing, and star­tups are fo­cus­ing on build­ing busi­nesses with strong fun­da­men­tals. tro­duc­ing in­ter­est­ing ways in terms of hang­ing, me­dia and pre­sen­ta­tion. Peo­ple can come to our site, select the pho­to­graph, fig­ure out what size they want, frame they want and then they can place an or­der,” said Nair.

The price of the pho­to­graph is de­cided by pho­tog­ra­phers them­selves who will also hold the in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty rights. The plat­form takes a cut on sales.

“We will take per­cent­age of sales. We also have paid sub­scrip­tion where will give the user a sub­do­main, like one’s own site,” Nair said. “We are in­creas­ingly seen as the high­est-risk, high­est-re­turn as­set class in the HNI port­fo­lio

Al­ter­na­tive to

con­ven­tional in­vest­ment op­tions such as real es­tate, public mar­kets and debt

plan­ning to have ecom­merce for cam­era and cam­era ac­ces­sories soon. Once we have more peo­ple on our site, we can also have tar­geted ad­ver­tis­ing as our rev­enue stream,” he said.

Pics­dream right now has close to 1,000 pho­tog­ra­phers on its plat­form. It al­lows am­a­teurs to get ad­vice from se­nior pho­tog­ra­phers, thereby cre­at­ing a com­mu­nity of pho­tog­ra­phers.

The plat­form is look­ing to make its first big sale within the next week, Nair said. It is cur­rently avail­able on the web­site and an­droid plat­forms and will soon be out on iOS.

Pics­dream re­cently raised an an­gel round of fund­ing led by Ra­man Roy, CMD of Qu­a­trro and co­founder of In­dian An­gel Net­work. Other in­vestors in­cluded Ankit Nagori, for­mer chief busi­ness of­fi­cer at Flip­kart, and Har­ish Natara­jan, for­mer CEO of Bausch & Lomb In­dia. The startup plans to raise its se­ries A by the last quar­ter of this year.

Nagori, who has joined the board of direc­tors of Pics­dream, said, “I re­ally be­lieve that for spe­cific domains, ver­ti­cal mar­ket­places is the way to go. In the past, I bought Ma­hesh’s pho­to­graphs, and have read his books. I re­ally think he’s a great pho­tog­ra­pher and he has a great en­tre­pre­neur­ial back­ground. I like the idea. I be­lieve wall art mar­ket­place will be a very big way to go. It’ll be a niche mar­ket.” $ RA­MAN ROY, Chair­man, Qu­a­trro Global Ser­vices & ac­tive an­gel in­vestor

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