Early-stage venture capital (VC) firm Antler, which entered the Indian markets earlier this year, has announced that it will deploy $100 million-$150 million for funding more than 100 Indian start-ups over the next three years.
Antler said it will dedicate up to a third of the capital investment planned in India towards backing Web3 and blockchain projects by funding 25-30 start-ups in the space. This stems from the team's continued conviction that Indian entrepreneurs will make major contributions to the decentralised future.
With this, Antler India -- the Indian arm of the global VC platform -- has become the first early-stage VC to declare significant blockchain focus in the country, the company claimed.
Antler is doubling down on the decentralisation theme globally as well, and plans to expand its portfolio to 100+ blockchain start-ups over the next few years. Due to its global network, resources, and partner companies, the investment firm said that it aims to tap a tangible opportunity that existing Web3 founders and those transitioning from Web2 to Web3 could capitalise on.
As part of the initiative, Antler's partners will include Solana and Polygon, two of the world’s largest developer ecosystems, as well as Questbook, one of the fastest growing Web3 developer communities. The effort will also involve the support of more than 10 industry advisors including the founders of Xanpool, Zilliqa Research, Mudrex, Mesh.Finance, OnJuno, Persistence One, Molecule and Chainstack.
Founders in the Antler network will benefit tremendously from access to these learning resources, support across distribution and team-building, as well as extended capital partnerships, it said.
Antler has built an existing portfolio of 14 Web3 and blockchain ventures, including Hodlnaut, Art Wall Street, Alpha Impact and Xanpool, which recently raised $27 million in its Series A round from Valar.
Nitin Sharma, Partner and Global Blockchain Lead at Antler and founder of Incrypt Blockchain, was the first Indian VC to play an active role in fostering India’s blockchain ecosystem, the company said. Nitin and his team have invested in 16 blockchain projects since 2017, with the Incrypt Blockchain portfolio spanning projects such as Arweave (decentralized file storage), Mudrex (social trading and DeFi aggregator), OnJuno (payroll infrastructure bridging banking and crypto), BAT, Ocean, Molecule, Persistence and more. T
"I have been fortunate to work with some of the pioneers and "OGs" who have built the space in India, and deeply believe that in Web3 and DeFi, there is a new internet and a new financial system being built - with DAOs, digital assets and NFTs as the building blocks. One where users and communities will be in far bigger control of value creation, identity and data sovereignty. I have also enjoyed engaging with the policy discussions globally, and know that sensible regulation will allow India and Indians to shape the future of the next big global platforms," Sharma said.
Antler has been expanding its Web3 portfolio, with a belief that the world is now ready for thousands of new founders to jump in and create a decentralised Web3 that will emerge within the next 4-5 years, he added.
"This is a revolution we can help catalyse as the only early-stage investor with such a vast global footprint. That’s why with this global call, we are launching a coordinated effort across 17 locations, to enable new founders to "level up to Web3" with us. In one go and from Day 1, founders from India and elsewhere will have access to the entire breadth of our network, plus specialised protocol relationships and advisors, to reach users, developers and investors in five continents," Sharma said.
Cathy Guo, Portfolio Manager at Antler India, will co-lead the blockchain efforts. Previously, Cathy was the CEO and co-founder of Dunya Labs, building developer tools for dApp developers. She organised Dfinity and EOS developer hackathons in India, and has been an early investor and advisor in the Indian blockchain ecosystem.
The Antler India team will play an active role in coordinating Antler’s effort in its Web3 drive globally across 17 international cities. Antler India plans to further expand its team with blockchain and Web3 specialists in order to ramp up investments in the sector moving forward.
"Having followed the space since 2015, the last 18 months has seen an irrevocable tsunami in talent and core infrastructure being built out for Web3. I strongly believe that Indian entrepreneurs will have a major role to play across the board, whether that is DeFi 3.0, unique on-ramps and crypto-based products for Indian and Southeast Asian investors, dev tools for the web3 infrastructure, and more. India has the advantage in harnessing a large talent base to work on global-first, composable projects,” Guo said.
Despite uncertainties concerning regulations, Antler India is optimistic about where the blockchain ecosystem in the country is headed and its potential to become a global hub.
With respect to the regulations Sharma said he is against speculative activities, and believes in sensible regulation that can address the very valid concerns of policymakers.
"We have ourselves made policy proposals to address this while ensuring developer and entrepreneurial activity is not affected. With our network of global funds, we will focus on founders building key infrastructure and tooling from India, for various facets of the emerging Web3, to solve scalability and usability," he said.
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