The year 2017 has seen a number of early-stage funds being launched in the Indian startup ecosystem. The latest to join the grind is private accelerator Zone Startups India, a new early-stage venture capital funds.

Zone Startups India is the Mumbai location of the famous Toronto-based Ryerson Futures Inc. – the technology accelerator and investment arm of Ryerson University. Zone Startups India is a collaboration between BSE Institute (a subsidiary of the Bombay Stock Exchange), Ryerson University’s Digital Media Zone (incubator), Ryerson Futures Inc and Simon Fraser University, British Columbia, Canada.

The Mumbai-based private accelerator, which accommodates over 55 desks and houses 60 startups, is looking to offer Indian startups with state of the art workspace, mentorship – functional, business experts and industry Panel, market development and business development support, networking and branding opportunities, funding opportunity, access to North American market and peer-to-peer mentoring.

The Zone Startups India Fund, which has a corpus of Rs 190 crore, is looking to raise capital from Indian institutional accounts. Speaking to Economic Times, Ajay Ramasubramaniam, director of Zone Startups India said, "We expect to make the first close in the next two to three months, and by the end of the year, the entire fund should be ready."

The Fund is aiming to create an impressive portfolio of 8-15 companies over the period of next one year. According to Zone Startups India, the category 1Alternative Investment Fund will be doing deals within ticket sizes ranging from Rs 50 lakh to Rs 3 crore.

The sectoral preference for the fund will be technology with a special inclination towards software companies working with mobile technology and enterprise technology. "B2B is the bigger focus but we would also look at good B2C companies with a proven track record and (those that) have already raised one round of funding," added Ramasubramaniam to ET.

The Indian startup industry has had a couple of rough years when it comes to investments and funding. Continuing last year's slump, angel and seed investments in Indian startups saw a downward trend both in terms of volume and value with the total number of deals reducing to almost half of what was witnessed for the same period last year. According to data from VCCEdge, January-March 2017 saw just 120 investments deals happening in the Indian startup industry, compared to 245 in the same period last year with Series-A funding decreasing by sad 65 per cent in deal value on a year-on-year basis. However, industry experts are hopeful that the tide would soon change in industry's favour as the exit scenario in India's unicorns will most likely bring back the lost faith of investors in the Indian startup ecosystem.

In his interview with ET, Ramasubramaniam also revealed that Zone Startups India is working on a couple of other things besides the micro venture capital fund. The Founders First focussed technology incubator and accelerator has recently received a grant of a whopping Rs 10 crore from Indian government's Department of Science and Technology to invest in 10-15 Indian companies that are part of its accelerator programme over the next 12 months. The ticket sizes for these deal would range from Rs 30 lakh to Rs 1 crore.

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