Aim & Shoot: Now, Here’s a Marketplace for Photographers
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 Shaadi.com and Makaan.com 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
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