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Go East Young Man-Should UK startups be interested in India?




Gaurav Singh, Founding Partner, JPIN VCATS


According to a letter from the Road Hauliers Association to Government Minister Michael Gove, the volume of goods moving from the British mainland to the European Union fell 68% in January compared to the same month in 2020.

The leaked letter suggests that the UK economy could become unstable over the next few months as companies grapple with new regulations.

That’s the short-term picture. In the long run, the decline in exports is unlikely to be very dramatic, but there is an expectation that trade volume will be at least slightly lower simply due to the friction of the new bureaucracy and the associated additional costs. In this case, small businesses that lack the ability to handle the filling of additional forms are most likely to be hit hardest. The government’s advice is that they go beyond a single European market to find new customers.

One of the largest markets just over the horizon is India. In the current situation, trade between the two countries is worth about 23 billion, which is a small figure compared to the value of UK/EU commerce, but it is important nonetheless.

In fact, Liz Truss, the UK’s Minister of International Trade, announced last week a five-day investment deal in India and ended a pledge to work for deeper trade relations. Trade deals may or may not happen, but what is certain is that the UK aspires to establish itself as an investment target and provider of technology and scientific solutions and services.

VC finance

And what we can see is more investment from Indian venture capitals and family offices in the UK startup sector.

Now the UK is no stranger to cash coming from India, most of which comes from major corporations. For example, among the investments declared by the Leeds Trust, the conglomerate Tata has promised to create 1,500 consulting jobs in the UK, while the biotech firm Walker has announced an expansion of its plant in Wrexham, Wales. But do you have a desire to support your business in its early stages?

Nayan Gala, Founding Partner of JPIN VCATS


I think there are Gaurav Singh and Nayan Gala. They are the founding partners of JPIN VCATS, an investment and consulting firm with offices in India, Asia and the UK. Experienced in investing in Asia and growing the company, JPIN is now looking for UK startups.

But Singh says that until recently, the fact that investing in start-ups in other regions wasn’t necessarily straightforward, alleviating appetite. Indian investors are having a hard time traveling to the UK, he says. UK investors see India as a challenge.

With experience working in both markets, JPIN aims to serve as a bridge between investors and startup opportunities in both directions.

So what will Indian investment firms offer UK startups? Well, besides money, you have access to the Indian market.

In the past, he says, people tended to see India in terms of supply chains and low-cost workforces. It is changing. India has a growing middle class and has a lot of capital in the system. In addition, it has a population of 1 billion and 662 million Internet users. It’s a huge market to capture.

Equally important, despite the growing prosperity and the enormous wealth created by major companies, India is still considered an emerging market with growth potential. Gala takes the financial sector as an example. He said that still a significant portion of the bank-free population is pointing to fintech business opportunities.

For example, the UK-based startup CreditEnable provides a platform that simplifies the process of getting business loans by giving banks a means to assess the risks associated with small business lenders. JPIN recently led a 2 million increase with 700,000 investments. CreditEnable is already active in India.

There are tremendous opportunities for Challenger banking, health tech, insurance technology and payments, Singh says.

One of the things JPIN is offering UK companies is that they can help them establish themselves and not expand more generally in the Indian subcontinent and Asia. And not only in obvious places. Gala says a lot of opportunities are in Tier 2 rather than Tier 1 cities.

Focus elsewhere

There is a potential problem in that UK companies don’t necessarily focus on India or Asia as a whole. They want to grow in their own market or go to the United States, admits Gala. In that regard, JPIN has a job to do. Thus, the company is building relationships with UK startups, entrepreneurs and VCs. We regularly attend Peach Day.

There is a bigger picture. India is the second highest source of foreign direct investment in the UK (after the US), according to a 2020 report by the Ministry of Trade. In terms of VC and private equity investments, a report released by Bain the same year found that Indian VCs could use dry powder capital of about $7 billion. Some may find opportunities abroad. Then there is the angel and family office. Meanwhile, investments from Asia to the UK grew rapidly, and most of the activity was concentrated in the later stage mega-rounds. According to a report by London & Partners, 39% of the transaction funds amounting to more than $250 million came from Asian venture capitals.

Although JPIN’s early days in terms of UK startup investments, the company is trying to become a leader in terms of channeling funds for Indian investors.

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