Former Infosys CFO V Balakrishnan readies Rs 125-cr fund after Exfinity

Written by P P Thimmaya | Debojyoti Ghosh | Debojyoti Ghosh | Bangalore | Updated: Jan 16 2014, 19:29pm hrs
V BalakrishnanV Balakrishnan, former Infosys CFO, is planning a second fund with a corpus of Rs 125-130 crore following the Exfinity fund
Former Infosys board member V Balakrishnan is planning a second fund with a corpus of Rs 125-130 crore following the Exfinity fund, which he started with three other industry veterans soon after his exit from India's second-largest IT services exporter last month.

The new fund, which is in its early stage, is likely to be sector-agnostic and not just focusing on technology like the first fund.

We have plans to start a second fund. We are looking at a similar size (like Exfinity fund). We are discussing about it, but it is too early to give any more details. It will be mostly a generic fund, Balakrishnan told FE. However, he did not specify the name of the fund.

Last month, the former Infosys CFO started Exfinity, along with T V Mohandas Pai, former board member of Infosys, Girish Paranjpe, former joint CEO of IT-services firm Wipro and Deepak Ghaisas, former i-Flex Solutions CEO.

We are on the verge of getting Sebi approval for Exfinity fund. It's a Rs 100-130 crore fund and we will look at investing in products companies and organisations with good intellectual properties (IPs) where they can build services around it in the IT space, Balakrishnan said, adding that it has plans to expand the fund size of Exfinity going forward.

The Exfinity fund plans to invest in startups at an angel funding stage and most of these investments is likely to centre around Bangalore, which is considered as a hub for technology innovation. The start-up ecosystem has gathered further momentum with lot more professionals taking the entrepreneurial route though the only gap for them is the mentoring and support structure.

According to Balakrishnan, If you look at the private equity space there are lot of funds that can provide monetary support and not many are run by industry veterans. It's an unique fund, which is started by the people of this industry, who has knowledge about the sector. The fund is not just about investments, we will mentor and hand hold them and provide the support they need.

Besides, the investments in the technology sector, the former CFO of Infosys has also forayed into the social sector with focus on micro-finance. Balakrishnan is the chairman of Microgram, a micro-finance institution engaged in the rural sector and plans to scale up its operations by four times this year.

He has also invested in Unitus Seed Fund, a Bangalore-based impact investment early stage fund, which caters to low-income population. Mohandas Pai and Infosys independent director Ravi Venkatesan have also invested in this venture.

Balakrishnan felt that there are lot of investment opportunities in the social sector. Right now, I will look into the microfinance space, but there are many NGOs, who are doing good work, I might align with some of them and work in different areas. I don't want to restrict myself in one sector. We will explore rural education, green initiatives and other sectors, he said.

The technology sector has witnessed other top-industry executives launching venture capital funds. Mohandas Pai who quit Infosys in 2011 joined the Manipal Group and floated a private equity fund called Aarin capital with an initial corpus of $100 million to invest in sectors including healthcare, life sciences and technology.

Amit and Arihant Patni, members of the Patni family, which sold Patni Computer Systems to iGate for $1.22 billion in early 2011, have launched a venture capital fund aimed at startups in the Big Data space.

The venture will be the Indian arm of the Silicon Valley-based fund, The Hive, which is a year-old platform run by Big Data investors Sumant Mandal and T M Ravi.