Venture capital company Canaan plays catalyst for investor, startup interface

BANGALORE: In a first-of-its-kind initiative by a global venture capital firm, Canaan Partners has launched a portal to link investors with entrepreneurs across India's growing ecosystem for early-stage companies .

StartupCatalyst.in will be open to all users interested in starting a new venture and will focus primarily on the technology sector in keeping with the investment focus of Canaan. It will offer additional features such as industry insider events, virtual office hours, online hangouts and industry data.

"For an entrepreneur, all funds kind of smell the same and look the same. This venture allows us to differentiate ourselves a little bit," said 
Rahul Khanna, managing director , Canaan India. The portal has been designed to be "by the community and for the community" and reflects the investor point-of-view , according to Khanna. A lot of the other initiatives tend to be just practitionercentric , he said.

Canaan, which has invested about $150 million in India since 2005, counts ventures like Bharat Matrimony, Equitas 
Microfinance and Happiest Minds among its portfolio . StartupCatalyst.in offers an opportunity for the fund to get an early look into potential investment opportunities at an early stage.

"It's an early look into a startup idea or a pitch," said Khanna. "We have no plans of monetising it and for the moment it will be an Indiafocused initiative ," he said. The initiative comes at a time when early stage investing dropped by 18% to $482.9 million across 181 transactions in 2012, compared with $588.8 million across 162 deals in 2011, according to research firm Venture Intelligence.

"It is a welcome initiative for the eco-system but the impact will depend on the level of engagement and the amount of traction that the platform manages to create," said Prashanth Prakash, partner at 
Accel Partners.