While trying to match interesting start-ups with high caliber investors in 2014, Vivek Durai realised on his 10th deal that his then start-up, TermSheet had very thin chances of excelling. “Angel ecosystem wasn’t very developed at that time. There was very little data on prospective investors,” he says.
Durai, a lawyer by profession ended up gathering information on many start-ups through regulatory filings, in the same areas as the ones he was pitching to the investors. He says, “During my research, I found that Indian regulatory filings were much more detailed as compared with other countries.” Later, Durai and co-founder Sonia Pradhan scaled up this research, creating a database of a large number of listed and unlisted companies within the country, what is today known as Paper.vc.
Upon launching the website, the start-up introduced its first plan, Enterprise edition. It comes at an annual subscription cost of 300,000, targeting bigger investing firms and enterprises. By timely tracking of various companies, the start-up claims to have enough information stored to help enterprises predict the next move of rival companies or analyse them for insights.
Pradhan explains, “We have the largest database of shareholders in private companies of India. So if you want to look for a particular person’s holdings, you get to know the exact number of shares he holds in each of the company he has invested in, at what price he purchased them, what kind of shares they are and also the rounds he acquired them at.”
Another plan is the News edition, which provides free news updates. By upgrading it at a monthly subscription of 499, the user gets information on the business deal. Their third plan, Signals will provide detailed report on a particular private company and its stakeholders at a one-time cost of 999. With an additional cost of 200 per month, the user can get regular updates related to the company.
Through in-house web crawlers and technology, the website automated the entire tracking process. Every small update in the Registrar of Companies (ROC) such as adding of a new company or an existing company getting funded is immediately tracked down and updated on the database. In case of an order being released from the Competition Commission of India (CCI), Paper.vc gets it in less than an hour. It helps them to deliver the information to media houses, investors and enterprises in the minimum time possible. “We work with live data,” sums up Durai.
The ability to provide granular level of information beyond public sources such as LinkedIn, and news articles on unlisted companies is their USP. The start-up was recently shortlisted for the summer 2018 accelerator cohort by Axilor.
In 2017, to test the business model, the Chennai-based start-up started an email newsletter called Paper, sending information on latest investments and new start-ups, while experimenting with different formats to do so. The idea was to attract institutional investors and media to their platform. Prominent business news platforms, including The Financial Express, Mint, The Economic Times and Reuters, rely on Paper.vc’s data. Durai and Pradhan plan to tap at least 50% of SMEs and start-ups by next year.