Ayshwaria Lakshmi ( )
For every startup founder, the pitch document is cardinal. It acts similar to an individual’s resume and makes a crucial document for venture capitalists to understand the company before they loosen their purse strings.
While anyone can create a pitch deck, only the interesting ones catch the eyes of investors. Especially for early-stage startups, the document is essential as they set out to raise funds.
Helping them in this endeavour is Salem, Tamil Nadu-based Start Insights, founded in 2021 by Premananth S and Sowmiya Chandrasekaran.
The Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platform works with early-stage startup founders in the process of finding, approaching, and pitching an investor. Further, its Pitch Craft service helps founders to create an impressive pitch deck.
Besides, it helps them with the process in between—including market analysis, financial projections, and the entire end-to-end documentation.
“It can be challenging for founders to raise funds and create a strong foundation for their businesses. We provide the necessary expertise to make this process easier for early-stage founders,” says Premananth.
In one year since its inception, Start Insights has delivered over 40 pitch decks and has helped six startups successfully raise their pre-seed and seed funding rounds worth $1.2 million. So far, the startup has worked with over 50 clients and has around 10-20 clients in the pipeline.
Among its clients, Cookr.in—a Chennai-based food marketplace—raised $1 million in a pre-seed round using Start Insights’ Pitch Craft service.
The startup charges fees for its services and a 90 days cohort. It did not disclose the numbers to YourStory. Besides, Start Insights generates its revenue from its products, including Pitch Craft, Pitch Do, and Start X.
Its cohort service offers a 90-day programme designed to help early-stage startups grow and succeed through mentorship, networking opportunities, and personalised guidance—right from idea validation to fundraising guidance.
Hailing from Salem, a Tier II city in Tamil Nadu, Premananth had struggled with exposure and growth. He worked for the developers’ ecosystem as part of the Google developers community and Microsoft for Students community.
His introduction to the startup world was through Geo Geo-Informatics—a NASSCOM-incubated startup. After working for a year and a half, he launched two companies. However, he had to shut down both ventures as the timing was not right, and he found it challenging to raise funds.
Meanwhile, he was also helping Tamil Nadu’s startup community by organising events.
After talking to startup founders during these events and taking lessons from his failures, Premananth decided to build a solution to address the pain points of the founders—pitching to investors and raising funds.
According to Sequoia Capital India, the country has over 88,000 startups registered with the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT). However, only 10% are eligible for funding, highlighting the high bar for funding.
Further, startups who lack fundraising education may struggle to secure funding to grow their business.
When a company approaches Start Insights, it primarily wants to use its Pitch Craft service. To build the deck, the Salem-based company helps the startup with market research, writes and designs an impressive pitch deck, and constructs the financial projections for the startup.
Post this, the company helps the founder with raising funds, particularly with quoting of valuation, dilution of equity, and more.
Start Insights has two more products under development—Pitch Do, an automated tool that writes the pitch deck, and Start X, an 18-week Impulsive Scale-Up Programme.
The company competes with Marquee Equity and Slidebean in this space.
On how the company has helped startups raise funding, Premananth says, “There is a significant increase in inquiries from established angel investors, aspiring angel investors, family offices, and venture capital firms as we have a strong network, along with a successful track record.”
At present, Start Insights is working to onboard several new partners to help its clients get investments.
“By connecting with these investors and leveraging our existing relationships with industry experts and mentors, we can provide our clients with the best possible funding opportunities,” he adds.
Market and future
According to Bain & Co, the Indian SaaS industry is expected to touch an annual recurring revenue of about $35 billion in 2027 from about $13 billion in 2022.
In January 2023, Start Insights raised Rs 52 lakh in a pre-seed funding round led by angel investors from Ex-Microsoft, Ex-GE Digital, and others.
As for future plans, Start Insights has two major things on its bucket list.
First, making angel investments easily accessible and making the process entirely digitally driven through its SaaS platform. Second, the company wants to create a more permanent end-to-end platform for startups, besides its 90-day cohort programme, where it would help founders from ideation to securing venture capital funding.
“Having fundraising documents in place doesn’t mean every startup is assured of funds. Founders should be cautious about choosing investors with the same domain expertise, as it can greatly impact their startup’s scalability,” he explains.
“With a good deal of experience and knowing well the investment thesis of more than 20 angel investors and over five venture capitalists, we know what we are talking about and can help founders find the right investor who will also be the catalyst for the growth of their startup,” Premananth says.
(Featured image: Chetan Singh)