For venture capital firms, these events are a great play at efficiency, said Guhesh Ramanathan, cofounder at seed stage incubator Excubator. "VCs don't know which (startup founders) to meet face-to-face and which ones to ignore. In events like these, they get to meet 20-25 startups in a matter of two hours," said Ramanathan.
Investors say there are several other factors influencing this shift in dynamic. "What has changed is the speed of decision-making," said Mohan Kumar, executive director of Norwest Venture Partners India. "It has shrunk to a couple of weeks from 3-4 months earlier, especially for deals in the trending market of that season. Hence, VCs have to make decisions fast."
This week, Times Internet-backed TLabs decided to do away with demo days - large public events where investors judge startups and get little time to connect - and introduced Investathon. The firm set aside 36 slots at its accelerator for investors to speak with startups in an informal setting over nine days. Within two days, about 90% of the slots were filled.
"When one investor sees their competitor talking to another startup, they are compelled to talk to them as well," said Abhimanyu Godara, chief manager at TLabs. "It's a psychological thing, a fear of missing out that comes into play."
The new camaraderie aside, it can't be said yet that there's been a full swing in favour of startups, as investors continue to put out the same terms as before. "Everyone gets so fixated on valuations that they fail to understand the fineprint of the term-sheets, and the terms haven't gotten much better than in the past," said Pankaj Jain, a partner at seed fund and accelerator 500 Startups, referring to redemption rights and liquidation preferences.
"Not everyone is looking for money," said Rakesh Agarwal, chief executive of NotifyStory, a storytelling platform for brands, who was present at the Helion mixer. "We need more angels to be coming to these events, strategic partners who can guide us in the right direction and become our godfather."