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A quick look at BITSian angel network Spark Angels & the 6 startups it has backed to date

Spark Angels, an angel network launched by the alumni and faculty of Birla Institute of Technology and Science (BITS) has invested in six early-stage startups since starting in 2012, according to a member of the network.

"Spark Angels is an angel network comprising alumni of the institute, entrepreneurs and select non-BITSian partners. It is targeted at funding high-potential seed-stage BITSian startups. The investment rounds are an annual affair, with the fourth round (IR-4) slated to occur in the summer of 2014," said Spark Angels member Arpit Mehta, who is also co-founder of Sharp Edge Learning, a BITS Pilani incubated startup.

The network was founded by a core group of BITSian alumni, with the help from BITS Alumni Association, the university and the faculty. The operational team comprises of young BITSians from technology, startups and venture capital areas. Spark Angels invests between Rs 25 lakh and Rs 2 crore each in tech startups that have at least one BITSian co-founder and have a good traction. It has invested in varied sector including robotics, cloud telephony, lingerie selling, and online test preparation.

"Our core focus is to create an ecosystem for BITSians where they can get support from their alumni and succeed as entrepreneurs," said Mehta.

The group is mentored by BITSian entrepreneurs like Raju Reddy of Sierra Atlantic; Satish Gupta, co-founder of TiE SV Angels; Manoj Saxena, general manager of IBM Watson; and Sanjay Nath, co-founder of Blume Ventures, among others.

The network follows a co-investment model with early-stage investors and individuals. In the past, it had co-invested along with Blume Ventures, Mumbai Angels, and Aarin Capital. Here is a quick look at the companies Spark Angels has backed so far:

Grey Orange Robotics: A warehousing automation company that makes products for materials handling. The company's flagship product is the Butler System, a fleet of mobile robots that can manage order fulfilment inside a warehouse.

Exotel: It offers cloud-based business phone systems to SMEs, which helps enterprises manage customers via inbound voice calls and SMSes without getting into the hassles of setting up a full-fledged call centre system.

Tabtor: A personalised math tutoring platform for iPads. It provides teachers and students aged between 5 and 12 with a personalised learning experience that focuses on the learning activities that happen at the point-of-learning for each student.

Framebench: It is a cloud-based communication and feedback platform for digital agencies and creative design firms. Framebench is a central workplace where users can store and share their creative assets. Remote teams & clients can then review, mark changes required on the assets and even host discussions on them in real time.

SolarTown: It offers clean energy generation systems to homeowners, businesses, schools, non-profits and government organisations.

e-GMAT:  An online education company that provides personalised and effective learning to non-natives.

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