Ad-tech, AI or B2B e-comm could produce the next unicorn: YourNest

16 Oct, 2015

Sunil Goyal, founder and CEO of angel fund YourNest, is bullish on startups that dabble in artificial intelligence (AI), digital advertising or B2B e-commerce and feels the next Indian unicorn could come from these emerging areas.

The fund, which has a corpus of Rs 90 crore ($13.5 million), has had a good past year. Two of its portfolio companies, ZipDial and BookMyCab, got acquired by microblogging giant Twitter and Paytm-backed Jugnoo, respectively. It last put money in Bestdealfinance.com, an online marketplace that provides loan fulfillment services for individuals and SMEs. Besides, US-based Northgate Capital recently joined the fund as co-sponsor.

In a conversation with Techcircle.in, Goyal throws light on the fund's plans and talks about the taxation structure for startups in India. Edited excerpts:

What do you make of the government's efforts to promote startups? There was some talk of easing the taxation structure for startups…

We will never be as happy as the government wants us to be. It has taken three-and-a-half years to get required approvals for NRIs to invest in our fund. It's great that the government is going to make the entire process automatic.

Every startup we back has received income-tax notices at some point. This can take a lot of energy out of them and something needs to be done to address this issue. For startups that have 30-40 investors, sharing every nugget of information with the income tax officer can be a real challenge. Startup tax for early-stage companies needs to be relooked.

Having said that, the government's Rs 10,000 crore fund for startups gives access to more capital. And capital is the most constrained resource for the ecosystem.

You have explored several niches in the consumer internet and tech sector. Where do you see the next billion-dollar enterprise coming from?

We believe artificial intelligence is here to change the way machines operate for us. That is going to create disruptions in every sphere of life. We would like to work with startups that have a wonderful solution in this area.

Most of the e-commerce action is presently restricted to the B2C space. We haven't seen enough happening in the B2B area. Businesses procure different kinds of goods in large quantities. That's going to be a big area of opportunity.

Digital advertising is another big area of opportunity for startup investments as this space is plagued by $59 billion of leakages.

We will assure these digital advertising companies that there is real customer, real audience and real engagement while you are paying for advertisements. These are game-changing theories we are looking for.

For the full interview, click here