Jen Harvey, Head of Marketing, Google Developers Launchpad
Google Developers Launchpad is an accelerator program that excels in helping startups solve the world’s biggest problems through the best of Google, with a focus on advanced technology. However our impact doesn’t stop there. A distinguishing aspect of our program is the network that we build with, and for, our founders. Over the past five years, Launchpad has created a global community of founders based on deep, genuine connections that we foster during the program, and that community supports one another in remarkable ways.
When Akanksha Hazari Ericson, Launchpad alumna and founder of m.Paani, took the stage at Google Developers Launchpad Future of Finance Summit in March, she didn’t know what would come of it. Fast forward, she just announced a Series A financing round, led by an institutional venture investor who was in the audience and two of her fellow founders in the Launchpad Accelerator program.
“We weren’t even raising at the time,” said Akanksha. “They saw our Future of Finance presentation and engaged with me right after my talk. Soon after, they were on a flight to Mumbai to meet our team and customers. Their investment initiated this round.”
The peer investment came from Launchpad alumni, and angel investors, Kevin Aluwi, CEO and Co-Founder, and Ryu Suliawan, Head of Merchants at GO-JEK, a Southeast Asian on-demand, multi-service platform and digital payment technology group. Both Kevin and Ryu saw direct value in what m.Paani and have stated their excitement to be part of m.Paani’s journey. They also saw huge strategic potential for the company to empower local retailers beyond India.
“It is because of the strong community of founders that Launchpad creates that I was able to make these amazing friends and mentors. Those connections led to this investment,” Akanksha said. “These investors have strategic relevance and add immense value to our business.”
m.Paani’s product uses machine learning technology, powered by Google Cloud, to empower more than 60 million family-owned local businesses in India by providing them with an online store front. The vast majority of local retailers are not digitized in any way; m.Paani’s solution allows them to compete with an app & web store, ability to accept digital payments, create loyalty programs, and much more.
m.Paani, who attended the Launchpad Accelerator in 2019, is now part of a wider community of Launchpad founders and companies that spans almost 400 startups across the world.
“It’s exciting to watch startups grow, but it’s even more exciting when investment comes through the resources and connections we helped foster as part of the program,” said David McLaughlin, Director of Google Developers Ecosystem team. “We put on strong focus on founder-to-founder interaction in our curriculum, mostly via our Leaders Lab and Growth Lab. We really want to create a wider community of founders who are willing to support each other. To see m.Paani take the next step on the funding ladder through that community showcases one of the many benefits for founders who join us for this accelerator”.
Akanksha, and her team, are excited about how the funds will help scale the offering for local retailers. “The funding will allow us to grow quickly, invest in product and technology, and better serve our retailers. Our retail partners are the backbone of our local economy and culture, and deserve the ability to compete in the digital age. This, more than anything else, is what gets me and our whole team up and excited every morning.”
Want to learn more about Akanksha’s founder journey with m.Paani? Check out her story here.