UVC: Nitin Sharma from Antler on the Evolution of His Definition of Impact, the VC Industry in India, the Future of EdTech, How Antler India is Addressing Pain Points for Founders, and the Potential Benefits of ONDC
In this episode we discuss:
[00:02:12 ] How did Nitin's definition of "impact" change over time?
[00:03:44 ] When did Nitin join the VC industry, and what was the market condition at that time?
[00:07:54 ] What was the most important lesson Nitin learned from his time at NEA (New Enterprise Associates)?
[00:10:50 ] How is the VC industry different in the US compared to India?
[00:16:06 ] What are some things that founders in India don't understand about VCs?
[00:20:29 ] Why did Nitin become interested in EdTech?
[00:23:00 ] What is Nitin's view on the future of EdTech in India and the role of AI in the sector?
[00:27:00 ] What is Antler and what is its mission in the startup ecosystem?
[00:28:23 ] What specific pain points is Antler India addressing for founders in the ideation phase?
[00:29:01 ] How does Antler differentiate itself from traditional venture capitalists?
[00:30:30 ] How does Antler's global network benefit startups in India and help them think about their products and teams differently?
[00:31:14 ] What does Antler focus on in the early stage investing process, particularly at the pre-seed stage?
[00:31:54 ] Does Antler only look for future founders in colleges or does it consider applicants from various backgrounds?
[00:32:35 ] What is the Antler India Fellowship, and how does it help democratize entrepreneurship?
[00:35:00 ] How does Antler reduce the cost of experimenting and building startups, and what are the key factors that Antler considers when evaluating founders?
[00:38:00 ] What are the challenges and limitations of venture capital in India?
[00:41:25 ] What factors make India a promising market for startups, and what are some counter examples that indicate the potential for significant success?
[00:44:00 ] What is the role of a VC, and what are the key learnings and qualities required to be successful in venture capital?
[00:47:29 ] How do ONDC and Web3 differ in their approach to decentralization, and what are the challenges and opportunities for both?
[00:52:15 ] What are some of the potential benefits of ONDC for small businesses in India, and how could it bridge the gap between digital payments and digital commerce?
[00:54:16 ] Where does Nitin see Antler India in 10 years and what is the desired impact on the startup ecosystem?
Nitin is a seasoned early-stage investor, having invested in 60+ tech startups in multiple geographies. With First Principles, he built a thesis-driven proprietary portfolio of 40+ angel investments backed by marquee investors. As the founder of Incrypt Blockchain, he has been the first Indian VC to play an active role in fostering India’s blockchain ecosystem. Nitin and his team have invested in 16 blockchain projects since 2017, with the Incrypt Blockchain portfolio spanning projects such as Arweave, Mudrex, OnJuno, BAT, Ocean, Molecule, Persistence and more.
Previously, Nitin was a founding team principal at Lightbox Ventures, one of India’s leading consumer-focused VCs, where he helped build the first two funds since the very inception.
Earlier in his career, he learnt the ropes of the VC business in the US, while being at New Enterprise Associates (NEA), one of the world’s preeminent venture funds. At NEA, he worked on multiple investments with successful IPO/M&A outcomes (Millennial Media, AddThis, OPower, etc.) and co-led the firm’s first education technology investment. He also served as an early executive at EverFi (one of the world's largest education networks, $250M raised), and started his career as a technology investment banker at UBS Investment Bank in San Francisco.
Nitin holds an MBA from The Wharton School, and two degrees from the University of Southern California. He serves on the India Advisory Boards of AngelList, the USC Viterbi School and The Better India, and advises the Indian government (NITI Aayog) on frontier tech policy.