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With more than 100 investments and 8 exits under his belt, Abhishek Rungta advises investing in founders more than business models



Abhishek Rungta revels in the joy of angel investing. More than a decade after founding Seeders, an angel fund with Pallav Nadhani of Fusion Charts, Abhishek has backed over 100 startups and has made eight exits. 

He says that the best lessons in the segment came from mistakes and missed opportunities. 

In a conversation with Siddhartha Ahluwalia, Founder and Host of 100X Entrepreneur, he recalled meeting OYO founder Ritesh Agarwal at a conference when the startup was operating like an Airbnb. 

“We discussed and I could not make up my mind on why would someone sleep in another person’s house. But obviously, he pivoted and that was an interesting learning: if the founder is great, they will pivot and build a great business. It’s not the business model that you invest in, it’s the founder. And I didn’t invest because of the business model but as you see today, he has grown into an iconic entrepreneur for which I have a lot of respect,” he shared.

In November 2021, Seederswas announced as an early-stage startup investment network of syndicate to invest in 24 startups annually while Abhishek continues to write personal checks for which the strategy is more founder-driven.

After investing in startups, Abhishek says the good ones will take five to seven years to yield results while others fail in two to three years. Investors then bear a long wait period which he calls the “valley of despair” before their investment decisions see the results. 

“If you start deploying your capital too quickly, then you kind of get into this valley of despair much, much faster,” he said, adding that he strayed away from investing for some time and missed many promising opportunities. 

In around 2018, he discovered the US network for investing, connected with the founders overseas, and learned about the syndicate lead concept. By building relationships with lead investors, he invested in 70 odd startups in one and a half years.

“I try to see what trends are emerging, how the world would evolve and how people would start living in that world…and then that kind of gives me enough energy to look at companies who can be playing an important role in that,” he added.

Building a tech company in Kolkata 

Abhishek is no stranger to entrepreneurship and has built Indus Net, a tech-enabled digital strategy consulting and offshore outsourcing company providing services to digital agencies, enterprises, and governments.

Bootstrapped since its inception in 1997, the company has more than 200 clients across banking, financial services, insurance, retail, publishing, media, government, healthcare, and entertainment sectors in five continents.  It also boasts an ARR (annual recurring revenue) of $11 million at present.

Both entrepreneurship and investment has shown him the value of long-term vision and made him more empathetic.  “There is nothing right or wrong in any business. It is very easy for you to judge people and a company but more often than not, will be proven wrong. The whole journey has made me less judgmental about company and people and that has definitely helped me as an individual,” he said.

To know more, listen to the podcast here

01:07 – Family business background – Jute Trading

03:48 – Acquiring a global client base from Kolkata

06:50 – His journey in Angel Investing

12:13 – Valley of despair in investing

15:14 – Thesis: Investing in 2nd time founders

22:05 – Diversifying your investments

33:01 – Learnings to intake as an LP

35:11 – Investors’ whose thesis he looks up to 

Edited by Affirunisa Kankudti

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Down rounds are still rare by historical standards • TechCrunch



If you thought that the recent venture capital market was tough, let me tell you about 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020.

With the first week of December under our belts, we’re not too far away from the end of the year. And that means that 2022’s venture capital story has largely been written. It’s not a single narrative; instead, this year started on a high, with momentum from the monstrous 2021 funding period persisting into the new year. From that point, we’ve seen a slowdown accelerate into what some consider a downturn.

The Exchange explores startups, markets and money.

Read it every morning on TechCrunch+ or get The Exchange newsletter every Saturday.

Startups raised lots of capital this year. Less, yes, than last year, but more than in nearly any year in recent memory. It’s still a good time to build a tech upstart.

Does that perspective feel too sunny when we hear so much doom and gloom on Twitter regarding startup prospects in a more conservative investing climate?

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Howie Mandel gets a digital twin from DeepBrain AI



Howie Mandel is stepping into the metaverse. DeepBrain AI has created a pretty realistic AI version of comedian and actor Mandel.

Deepbrain AI, based in South Korea and Palo Alto, California, calls its creation “AI Howie,” and it’s an interactive virtual human and digital twin for immersive and personalized fan experiences. AI Howie mentions VentureBeat and talks to me in the attached videos.

Unlike the “deepfakes” of Tom Cruise and other actors, the real Howie Mandel cooperated with DeepBrain AI to create the virtual human AI replica of the famous comedian, actor, host, and technology enthusiast. We used “virtual Paris” AI character at our recent MetaBeat event in San Francisco.

“I am equally thrilled, excited, and terrified to finally have the ability of showing up and doing things without going anywhere or doing anything,” said Mandel, in a statement. “Thank you, DeepBrain.”

DeepBrain AI applies deep learning technology to create hyper-realistic virtual humans through its AI Studios and the AI Human platforms. These virtual humans are digital twins of the real person, with the same appearance, voice, gestures, and subtle mannerisms. The AI Studios platform enables script-to-video software that synthesizes dynamic video content in seconds, producing the quickest and most
realistic AI-generated videos. The script-to-video editor makes it easy for customers to select a model and then make it say something based on a script. Within a minute or so the video is made.

This is a powerful communication and marketing tool for celebrities, professional athletes, news anchors, and even politicians. Before working with Howie Mandel, the DeepBrain AI team created digital twins of Premier League soccer superstar Son Heung-Min, multiple news anchors across Asia, and South Korean president Yoon Suk-yeol.

Joe Murphy, business development manager for DeepBrain AI, said in an interview with VentureBeat that the virtual Howie is a conversational model that you pepper with questions. DeepBrain AI designs and develops these virtual humans for the purpose of creating digital twins (like Howie Mandel), digital people, and avatars.

It takes about four weeks of machine learning work to create a Howie Mandel digital twin.

“We create models of real people,” Murphy said. “We also have completely synthetic virtual humans. That is what we’ll call digital people. And then avatars are just the basic Roblox type of avatars. But where our technology comes in with the digital twins is we go through a deep learning process to clone the person’s voice, their mannerisms, their face, the way their eyes move, the way their lips move.”

He added, “So we create what we call the digital twin of the real person with all the uniqueness of that person. Our mission is to use this technology that we’ve developed throughout Asia and bring it to America.”

In addition to the script-to-video capabilities, the company provides fully conversational experiences with its AI Human software. The AI Human solution enables fans to interact and engage with AI Howie by simply asking questions. For example, when asked, “What was your favorite act on AGT this season?” the AI Howie model responds in real-time to support interactive, fun, and engaging fan experiences.

AI Humans are available within mobile apps, web browsers, or voice-activated kiosks.

“Our vision is to humanize digital experiences and empower creative teams to generate immersive content at scale,” said Eric Jang, DeepBrain AI CEO. “Working with Howie Mandel was a fun experience, and we are excited to see how the AI Howie collaboration will connect with his fans worldwide.”

DeepBrain AI, (formerly Moneybrain), a conversational AI startup based in Seoul, South Korea, has raised $44 million in a series B round led by Korea Development Bank at a post-money valuation of $180 million. The company started in 2016 and it has raised $54 million to date. The company has 130 employees.

The AI is being used for AI news anchors in South Korea and China at four different television networks. The networks flag that the anchor is an AI avatar so that no one gets confused.

The real Howie Mandel spent about a day shooting video with DeepBrain AI.

While multiple companies are working on virtual humans, DeepBrain AI’s avatars are hyperrealistic. One of Asia’s largest insurance companies is also using it, as is a “brand ambassador” for a soccer team.

“When we worked with Howie Mandel, we went down to his studio in Los Angeles, we provided a script, and fed our training data into our neural network,” Murphy said.

It took about a day to do a video shoot with Mandel and about three to four weeks of machine learning time on the computers to generate the first AI model.

Back in January, DeepBrain AI opened its office in Palo Alto, California, and it is talking to partners in Silicon Valley and the rest of the U.S. Over time, Murphy said that the hope is to create AI avatars in realistic 3D for the metaverse. In South Korea, kiosks are appearing in places like banks with both 2D avatars and 3D avatars.

Over time, Murphy said the avatars have gotten better at mannerisms, lip sync, and subtle gestures. The speed of real-time responses in conversations has also gotten faster. The company is talking about doing more with game companies and major brands.

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This Doggy DNA Test Ships Free for the Holidays



Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Every pet owner wants the best for their animal sidekick. They want to spend as much time as possible with them, even at the office. But being the best dog owner you can be isn’t all about just being present. It helps to understand your dog on a genotypic as well as phenotypic level. That’s one reason why doggy DNA tests have become so popular.

DNA My Dog

If you’re wondering what to get for your pooch this holiday season, look no further than the DNA My Dog Breed Identification Test. If you order by December 8, you’ll get free shipping, but that date is coming up fast so don’t delay.

This simple, painless kit requires just a swab of your dog’s cheek to get a detailed report delivered in two weeks or less. That report includes a custom photo certificate of the breed breakdown found in your dog’s genetic breed composition, a percentage breakdown of the levels found in your dog’s DNA, and a report on the dominant breeds, personality traits, and health concerns that your dog may be genetically predisposed to. All of that information will help you be a better friend to your dog, making smarter decisions about food, training, and healthcare.

The DNA My Dog Kit was awarded at the 2020 GHO Biotechnology Awards and user Bonnie H. writes, “I loved this experience!!! The kit came immediately with great instructions. The results came exactly when promised. When I couldn’t open the attachment with the results, I emailed my concern and got instant help! To find out his DNA has been the coolest experience!”

Lock in free shipping on a unique gift for your dog by December 8. Grab the DNA My Dog Breed Identification Test on sale for 24% off $79 at just $59.99 now.

Prices subject to change.

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