Successful businessmen throughout history have one common trend- to search out new, ingenious innovations that are on the cusp of creating a global revolution. These innovations can be found anywhere, be it aeronautics, automobiles, education, retail, or any field you can think of.
We can observe this in Mr Anand Mahindra, chairman of the Mahindra Group. While everyone recognizes his contributions to establishing the Mahindra Group as one of the largest Indian business conglomerates, what is less-spoken is, how he has invested in startups across various industries as part of his personal contribution to fulfilling his own quest of finding the next-biggest innovation which has the potential to improve the conditions of the Indian populace and thus, to make India a better country to live for the upcoming generations.
Here in this article, we would discuss the 8 startups in which Mr Anand Mahindra has invested, in what industries they mainly specialise, what are their flagship products and so on.
Founders: Sachin Taparia, K Yatish Rajawat, Abhishek Gupta, Mukesh Gupta
Founded in the year 2012 by Sachin Taparia, K Yatish Rajawat, Abhishek Gupta, and Mukesh Gupta, LocalCircles is a Delhi-based startup that specializes in the “social entrepreneurship” sector. It is an online space where citizens can voice their respective concerns, be it on the local level or the national level, share a multitude of ideas and thus, help people.
LocalCircles also enable elected representatives to connect with their constituencies, which makes for better governance at the grassroots level. LocalCircles have taken up 50+ key issues in the last decade and driven policy interventions or amendments which have improved the quality of people living in India. They have been widely featured in noted publications like The Guardian, Wall Street Journal, and Bloomberg for example.
In December 2015, Mr Anand Mahindra invested an undisclosed amount in LocalCircles and his appointed on the advisory board of the startup. He became the second corporate heavyweight to invest in the startup after Nadir Godrej.
Founders: Jamshed Pesi Shaw, Fida Jamshed Shaw
Founded in 2014 by Jamshed Pesi Shaw and Fida Jamshed Shaw under the aegis of Food Marshal Tech Services Pvt Ltd, this Mumbai-based food-tech startup helps restaurants connect with their customers. In this mobile-only platform, customers can rank their food preferences, make table bookings and chat with restaurants regarding feedback issues.
Unlike other food-tech startups that charge a commission from the restaurants or from the orders that come through their platform, DishCo offers listing and ranking for free of cost and instead has a fixed subscription fee for restaurants who opt for booking tables, coupons, and other services.
In September 2015, DishCo raised an undisclosed amount of angel funding from Mr Anand Mahindra. He was joined by other noted businessmen like BookMyShow's Ashish Hemrajani and Punj Lloyd’s Uday Punj.
Founder: Shaili Chopra
Launched in 2015 by journalist Shaili Chopra, SheThePeople.TV is a digital media initiative dedicated to showing the success stories of women achievers. They have profiled stories of 10,000 women who have excelled in their respective fields so they can be a role model to all women and show their indomitable spirit. These stories are written in English and Hindi.
In 2016, SheThePeople.TV received an undisclosed investment from Mr Anand Mahindra. The firm said they would use the capital to launch their initiatives in regional languages like Tamil, Telugu, and Kannada so they can further expand their market.
Founders: Dilip Ramesh, Sanskriti Dawle, Aman Srivastava, Saif Shaikh
The journey of Thinkerbell Labs began in 2016 when four undergraduate students of BITS Pilani Goa campus in Dilip Ramesh, Sanskriti Dawle, Aman Srivastava, and Saif Shaikh were part of an Arduino-based project by the name of Project Mudra.
As part of their project, they had to build a Braille-based alphabet song box. When they saw the praise they got from their respective professors and visually impaired students, they decided to take one step further and created a startup by the name of Thinkerbell Labs.
The motto of Thinkerball Labs is to eliminate the problem of illiteracy faced by visually impaired persons across the world. Their flagship product is “Annie”, a device in the form of a pad with multiple buttons on it, with the objective to self-teach visually impaired students Braille using audio-guided lessons, quizzes, and so on. It provides these lessons in multiple Indian languages such as Hindi, Marathi, Kannada, etc also.
In July 2017, Tinkerbell Labs managed to get a total investment worth 1.3 crore Indian rupees from Mr Anand Mahindra and Indian Angel Network, headed by Rajesh Navaneethan and Manjunath Nayak. Mr Anand Mahindra also invested an undisclosed amount in Thinkerball Lab’s seed round in November 2019.
Founders: Rahul Ranjan
Naandi Education Support and Training Pvt. Ltd (also known as NEST education) is an organization that builds technology platforms to cater to the knowledge demand of low and middle-class income sections of urban India.
For this purpose, they have two learning centers under the name Alphabyte-The Learning Terminal, with a unique Tech-N-Brick Education model where technology is seamlessly integrated to help students with their own customized learning modules.
In August 2017, Mr Anand Mahindra along with the Dell Foundation invested around 4 crore Indian rupees in NEST Education. Mr Anand Mahindra said he was really impressed by their endeavours.
Founders: Ankit Kumar, Mofid Ansari, Pratyush Singh, Rajat Dangi, Shubhendra Vikram
Founded in 2018 by Indian Institute of Information Technology - Vadodara students Ankit Kumar, Mofid Ansari, Pratyush Singh, Rajat Dangi and Shubhendra Vikram, this Gurugram-based startup aim is to build a social network based on Web 3.0.
Their flagship platform is the social networking solution GoSocial, which allows users to take creative challenges by professional artists, photographers, and designers and get rewarded for how well they performed.
Hapramp Studio also has other tools like Flips which help writers and poets make their work more aesthetic and 1Ramp.Io where any social media creators earn a respective amount of cryptocurrency on one as they get for their work on any social media platform.
In June 2020, Mr Anand Mahindra announced via his Twitter account that he found an opportunity worth funding in Hapramp Studio with the help of an ex-Mahindra executive Jaspreet Bindra to find an “indigenous” Indian startup on the rise. As per various reports, he invested around 7.5 crore Indian rupees in the startup.
Founders: Nikhil NP, Vimal Govind MK
Founded in 2015 by Nikhil NP and Vimal Govind MK, this Thiruvananthapuram-based startup specialises in the design and development of robotic-powered exoskeletons and robotic systems that can be controlled by humans.
In 2018, they released their flagship product named “Bandicoots”. These are fully automated robots for cleaning manholes across the country. This would eliminate the need for human intervention and would be a huge step forward in ending the social issue that still affects Indian society by the name of manual scavenging. They soon launched an updated version in Bandicoot 2.0 which was inaugurated by the Prime Minister of India, Shree Narendra Modi.
In October 2020, Mr Anand Mahindra, along with existing investor Unicorn India Ventures and SEA fund, managed to raise 2.5 crore Indian rupees in its Pre-series A round of funding.
Founders: Moin SPM, Satyanarayanan Chakravarthy, Srinath Ravichandran
Founded in 2017, this Chennai-based space-tech startup designs, manufactures, tests and launches orbital-class rockets for micro and nano satellites. Their flagship product is the rocket named Agniban which is capable of carrying up to 100 kg load across various orbits.
They currently work out of the National Center for Combustion R&D at the Indian Institute of Technology-Madras and they became the first startup to sign a pact with the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) to take help of the space agency’s expertise as well as facilities to build rockets.
In May 2021, AgniKul Cosmos raised around 80 crore Indian rupees from Mr Anand Mahindra, along with various other Silicon Valley investors, like Naval Ravikant and Balaji Srinivasan. It is one of the largest funding rounds for a private Indian space technology company.
As it can be seen, Mr Anand Mahindra has invested in startups in varying industries, be it space-tech like AgniKul cosmos, blockchain technology-based startups like Hapramp Studio, and so on.
One observation to be made is most of these startups actually want to change the world socially and to make the world, a better place. They want to go beyond pleasing their shareholders, or the venture capitalists and do something socially, such as wanting to end manual scavenging, showcasing the various achievements of women, and helping underprivileged children get better access to education.
While billionaires investing in social causes isn't something new(the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation comes to mind), the fact that Mr Anand Mahindra has invested a lot of money in these startups is not a fact that most of us know and we should take cognizance of it.
Does Mahindra invest in startups?
Yes, Anand Mahindra is an active investor and has invested in startups like LocalCircles, DishCo, and Thinkerbell Labs.
Is Anand Mahindra a billionaire?
Yes, Anand Mahindra is a billionaire and has a net worth of $2 Billion.
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