Early stage investment platform Antler in India has closed commitments of INR 500 crores ($60 million) and is approaching the final close of its maiden INR 600 crores ($75 million) pre-seed fund.

Antler said in a statement that the fund is significantly oversubscribed on its base corpus target, and is now completing the exercise of the greenshoe portion to reach nearly double the initial target in 2021, allowing for faster expansion, more reserve capital and additional capabilities to support portfolio startups.

At about INR 600 crores, this is one of the largest pools of venture capital dedicated to the company formation and pre-seed stage in India.

The Antler India fund is backed by several marquee investors representing six institutional and sovereign wealth investors (including Small Industries Development Bank of India [SIDBI]), as well as 125+ limited partners that include more than a dozen unicorn founders.

Antler’s India operations and the local fund were set up by Rajiv Srivatsa and Nitin Sharma.

With 37,000+ founders who have applied, Antler India has built one of the largest and most selective (less than 0.2 percent) funnels for entrepreneurship in the country.

Antler has already committed to 45 India investments (in the range of $200,000 to $400,000 per investment) in software as a service (SaaS), fintech, consumertech along with investments in disruptive new themes like open network digital commerce (ONDC), artificial intelligence (AI) from India, climate, Web3 infrastructure, vertical SaaS, and spacetech.

This includes high-growth startups and emerging category creators like Adaptive, Apnibus, Bookee, Bold Finance, Covrzy, Gladful, Hexo, IndiaP2P, Inferless, Inspecity, OnArrival, Plotch, Sangti, StepChange, and several others not announced yet.

According to the statement, nearly half of the completed investments (27) have already raised follow-on capital.

With a deep belief in the grit, ambition and adaptability of the new-age Indian entrepreneur, the fund is now strategically increasing the pace of investments in 2023 despite the market downturn.

The fund has also built a full fledged team of 20, of which 80 percent have previously worked in startups and nearly half have been founders.

Antler’s central theme is “Day Zero Investing”, for both existing teams and single founders looking to build teams.

The firm partners with stellar founders at the ideation stage, helping them build teams, validate ideas via programmatic cohort-based approach, offers post-investment support, and plugs them into a vast, global network on Day Zero.

A unique example of this Day Zero approach is the first-of-its-kind Antler-ONDC initiative, launched in collaboration with ONDC, Beckn and Nandan Nilekani, to catalyze talent density and startup creation on the emerging ONDC-Beckn infrastructure layers.

Launched six weeks back, the platform has already attracted 600+ aspiring founders and aims to enable the creation of 50+ new ventures.

Other innovative products launched for the India market include the Antler India Residency, which has enabled the creation of 60+ ventures so far and Antler India Fellowship through which six investments have been made into startups by student founders.

“We are extremely grateful to our early believers who have backed our vision of creating an institutional platform focused on the company formation stage, with the leverage of the world’s fastest growing early-stage network,” said Nitin Sharma and Rajiv Srivatsa, Co-Founders and General Partners at Antler in India.

“We are equally grateful to the founders who we have partnered with. The fund’s strong performance so far is a testament to the tenacity and ambition of new-age Indian founders like them,

“We also look forward to partnering with our peer funds in the ecosystem in the course of investing in 100 disruptive startups via this fund,” they said.

According to them, in the next 18 months, besides establishing a physical presence in additional ecosystems like Delhi NCR and Mumbai, the fund aims to double down on emerging themes and bring a range of capabilities for founders beyond just capital, like they have done for ONDC-Beckn with Nandan Nilekani and team.

“We are thrilled to be closing the greenshoe portion of the fund soon and aim to deliver exceptional returns to our LPs in the years to come via a Day Zero investing focus,” they added.

Antler’s global footprint now includes 27 locations worldwide, touching every vibrant tech ecosystem, and enabling access to a powerful network of 900+ other startups.

Its global advisory board includes Larry Summers (former US Treasury Secretary), David Fischer (ex-Chief Revenue Officer, Facebook), Todd Ruppert (Retired Chief Executive Officer, T Rowe Price) and Sheila Patel (Former Chairman, Goldman Sachs Asset Management).

In June 2023, Antler also announced the final close of its $285 million Antler Elevate fund to support growth-stage startups from Series A onwards.

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