Building a moat around the core product tech is key for a differentiated offering. Shashank Randev, Founder VC at 100X.VC shares his Anti Portfolio.

Prior to becoming an investor, I was the founding member of VCCEdge where I monitored and analyzed early-stage startups in India. That journey helped me in developing research skills for mapping comparable startups across sectors. While there are multiple metrics a venture fund evaluates before deciding to invest in a startup, angels largely go by their passion and gut. At an early stage for angels, it’s a judgment call based on the founding team, their pedigree and hoping the market size will continue to exist in the years to come. Conversation in commerce for me was and continues to be a market to go after where vernacular would be a huge opportunity. was one such startup which met all these criteria for me. I first met them in 2017 and decided to lead the investment round through an angel network in August 2018. The founders were building a Conversational AI Assistant for retailers. Both from IIT Bombay, had previously exited from a successful start-up named Makesense Technologies which got acquired by Info Edge India Pvt. Ltd. ( in 2013. They were still building out the AI assistant that would understand a customer's need through natural conversation, offering relevant recommendations and explaining why that may be the best choice. They wanted to focus on enhancing their algorithms in specific categories, I along with other angels wanted them to start with initial Proof of Concepts (POC). Somehow by end of 2018, I wasn’t convinced that they would be able to sell and decided not to lead the round.

In Sept 2019, Reliance-backed Haptik acquired to leverage its platform to power multilingual experiences for the next 500 million Indians that will come online to shop. My learnings from this missed opportunity was multifold. While it is important for deep technology startups to sell their solution, building a moat around the core product tech– with or without POCs– will remain critical for a differentiated offering.

Using these learnings at 100X.VC – early stage seed fund investing through iSAFE notes – where we are backing startups at minimum viable product or proof of concept stage and giving them the opportunity to build out their visions.

- 100X.VC Team

Published on: January 20, 2020