Antler has announced that it will dedicate up to a third of capital investment planned in India towards backing web3 and blockchain projects. This stems from the team’s continued conviction that Indian entrepreneurs will make major contributions to the decentralized future. With this, the Indian arm of global venture capital platform Antler becomes the first early-stage VC to declare significant blockchain focus in the country.
Earlier this year, Antler announced a full-fledged launch in India. Antler is the fastest growing VC firm in the world and plans to deploy $100M to $150M in 100+ Indian startups over the next 3 years.
Globally, Antler is doubling down on the decentralization theme as well, and plans to expand its portfolio to 100+ blockchain startups over the next few years. Due to its global network, resources, and partner companies, Antler creates a tangible opportunity that existing Web3 founders, and those transitioning from Web2 to Web3, could capitalise on. As part of this 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 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.
Antler has built an existing portfolio of 14 web3 and blockchain ventures, including Hodlnaut, Art Wall Street, Alpha Impact and Xanpool, which recently raised $27Mn in their Series A from Valar.
Antler India’s team is uniquely positioned to take on the enabler role in the country’s growing web3 ecosystem, with its team including some of the earliest, most active investors and builders in the space. 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. 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. The Incrypt team previously also built one of the first blockchain developer communities in India, and conducted deep policy engagement with the Indian national government and policy think tanks, including releasing the first-of-its-kind report on the impact of regulations on blockchain startups and organizing international delegations.
Cathy Guo, Portfolio Manager at Antler India, will be co-leading blockchain efforts. Previously, Cathy was the CEO and Co-Founder of Dunya Labs, building developer tools for dApp developers. She organized 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. Alongside Nitin and Cathy, the global blockchain initiative will be co-led by Markus Bruderer, who has led multiple Antler blockchain investments in South East Asia. Antler India plans to further expand its team with blockchain and web3 specialists, in order to ramp up investments in the sector moving forward.
Nitin Sharma, Partner and Global Blockchain Lead at Antler, says, “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.”
Nitin adds, “At Antler, we have been expanding our Web3 portfolio, and believe the world is now ready for thousands of new founders to jump in and create a decentralized Web3 that will emerge within the next 4-5 years. This is a revolution we can help catalyze 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 specialized protocol relationships and advisors, to reach users, developers and investors in 5 continents.”
Cathay Guo, Antler Global Blockchain Co-lead, says “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.”
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. Commenting on this, Nitin adds, “We are against speculative activities, and believe 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.”
Categories: Venture Capital