India’s startup ecosystem has seen a proliferation of events that purport to connect founders to prospective investors in exchange for the cost of entry passes. Such events have become increasingly common, with many questionable matchmaking and crowdfunding platforms that prey on unsuspecting founders and investors. These platforms and forums pose a reputational threat to the startup ecosystem, which has already been tainted by controversies in the past year.
The World Startup Convention bills itself as the world’s biggest funding festival. However, the event has been questioned by many founders and investors who feel cheated after buying into its promises. Several other founders have taken to Twitter to voice their concerns about the dubious nature of the World Startup Convention.
Questionable Platforms and Investment Models
Before delving deeper into the event and its claims, it’s important to understand the context of suspect investment matchmaking platforms and commission-based models. While there’s nothing illegal about these platforms or forums, their proliferation poses a reputational threat to the startup ecosystem. As investors themselves struggle with write-offs and dud bets in the past year, many smaller investors have had to resort to creative models to stay active, including commission or fee revenue.
Shark Tank India: Trivializing the Fundraising Process
The story of startups and fundraising has become mainstream in India, thanks in no small part to Shark Tank India, which entered the scene in late 2021. However, investors feel that the show trivializes some aspects related to fundraising. The show depicts a simplistic version of the fundraising process, which can make inexperienced founders believe all they need is some time in front of an investor. With a new breed of founders and investors coming into the ecosystem, such matchmaking platforms are able to target more people now than before.
The ‘dumbing down’ of startup funding has triggered consternation in the ecosystem, epitomized by the World Startup Convention. The return of dubious matchmaking and crowdfunding platforms that prey on unsuspecting founders and investors has caused reputational damage to the startup ecosystem, which has already been tainted by controversies. With funding in the first two months of the year just touching $1.7 Bn, and with just $693 Mn raised in February, the lowest monthly tally since August 2019, there is a measure of desperation among young entrepreneurs and first-time founders.
World Startup Convention: A Massive Scam Disappoints Thousands Of Participants
One of the attendees, Vaibhav Anant, the founder of Banglore-based startup BAMBREW, spent around 50 lakhs rupees to be part of the event. He was promised a guest list that included big names such as PM Modi, Elon Musk, and Sundar Pichai. But he found only 75 startups participating, instead of the promised 75,000. He spent almost 10 lakhs on setting up his stall and 25 lakhs for fabrication, all done with zero plastic waste. Additionally, he spent lakhs of rupees on accommodation and travel for his team from Banglore.
The event had also roped in influencers with millions of followers, such as Ankur Warikoo, Raj Shamani, and Chetan Bhagat, for promos full of high praise. But several other founders started tweeting and posting about the dubious nature of the World Startup Convention, casting doubts on many of its tall claims.
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