New US$100-million investment fund aims to help startups in Canada and India

Mark Lowey
December 2, 2020

Toronto-based digital accelerator Bay Street Diary and India Network have partnered to establish a US$100-million venture capital fund for entrepreneurs and business startups in Canada and India.

The new Indo-Canada Partnership Fund will focus on providing pre-seed funding and will invest broadly in entrepreneurs and startups across all business stages and sectors. Pre-seed funding is typically the first crucial investment to get a startup off the ground.

The fund will provide sufficient capital so that entrepreneurs will not have to worry about how to raise money to ensure their startups survive their first year or two, Suneet Oberoi, co-founder of Bay Street Diary, said in an interview.

“Our goal is to help entrepreneurs stay focus on their business model and operations,” he said. “We intend to create an ecosystem of like-minded entrepreneurs, investors and mentors on a global front, which will result in numerous opportunities for all its members.”

Funding available will range from $25,000 up to $500,000, depending on what idea the entrepreneur has created, the business vision and goals, and how much capital will be required for commercialization, Oberoi said.

In addition to capital, the fund’s partners will provide startups with access to strategic planning and guidance, potential partnerships to expand their market, and mentorship and advice from a network of business leaders across the world.

Bay Street Diary is known in Canada’s innovation ecosystem for sharing knowledge accumulated from seasoned and successful entrepreneurs through video and podcast interviews, blogs and partnership opportunities.

India Network is a platform for people from across the startup spectrum to connect, collaborate and co-create.

“I believe both countries can benefit from this partnership and I hope post-pandemic we can take lots of young startup founders to Canada for a learning experience,” Rahul Narvekar, founder and CEO of India Network, said in a statement.

Narvekar’s vision with India Network is to create one million entrepreneurs in India over the next three years by providing startups with three key elements: money, mentoring and market access.

Bay Street Diary also has invested in Kocean Edutech Private Limited of India to offer entrepreneurs a platform for skills learning and other opportunities to enhance their businesses.

“I believe there are businesses which have the ability to become unicorns,” Oberoi said. “Through this fund, we intend to provide that opportunity to such businesses and entrepreneurs.”

Initial funding needed to set up and administer the VC fund has been raised from five of Bay Street Diary’s partners in India, Canada and the U.S., he said.

The $100-million fund is expected to officially launch by next summer and begin deploying capital as early as fall 2021. Bay Street Diary and India Network both will participate in raising funds.

The fund’s initial focus will be on startups, but the partners have plans to also offer scaling capital and growth capital in the future.

Canada’s response to the COVID pandemic, in keeping government funding flowing to support the country’s businesses and citizens, has impressed global investors, many of whom are currently sitting on funds and eyeing new ventures, Oberoi noted.

“It makes Canada positioned as a strong and caring country on the world map. The world market has a great impression about investing in the Canadian ecosystem today,” he said.

Oberoi also pointed out that some startups emerged and grew to unicorn size in times of crisis, such as Alibaba during the 2002-2003 SARS epidemic and Uber, Slack Technologies and Airbnb during the 2009 global economic recession.

“You will definitely see some amazing startups scaling up to great heights in the near future,” Oberoi predicted.


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