Infosys co-founder and former head of UIDAI, Nandan Nilekani has launched a $100-million venture capital (VC) fund teaming up with seasoned VC Sanjeev Aggarwal called Fundamentum Partnership. This maiden fund promoted by Nilekani will have the core focus on consumer technology businesses, particularly ventures that are solving unique Indian problems. The fund plans to invest in 10-15 companies within its tenure and also there are plans to take the size of the corpus to $200 million if good opportunities come along. Fundamentum has already raised half the money for the $100 million.
Nilekani and Aggarwal’s coming together for a VC fund comes months after the two of them invested in Stelling Technologies Private Limited, which runs RailYatri.in, a platform that gives railways-related information. Fundamentum has got a commitment from 5 to 6 entrepreneurs who are willing to put their money in the new VC fund. In a marked departure from industry practice, the founders of Fundamentum will not be charging any fund management fees. Nandan Nilekani, whose investment history is just three years, said, “At Fundamentum, we are committed to building companies to last, with speed and at scale”.
He added, that real challenge will be scaling up the companies. The VC fund will start screening and shortlisting companies in next 5-6 months. It will lead investment rounds and will look at an average ticket size of investment ranging from $10 million to $25 million. Nandan Nilekani also decided to not do any more direct start-up investments and Fundamentum will be the sole platform for his engagement with the start-up world. He will be actively engaged in selecting and mentoring the companies.
The personal start-up investments by Nilekani prior to the launch of this fund include: Power2sme, Railyatri, Sedemac, Shopx, Mubble and 4tigo.Sanjeev Aggarwal, co-founder Daksh, a BPO company which was later acquired by IBM and in 2006 he launched Helion Ventures, a leading VC fund. Aggarwal as an early stage investor is also the board member in several companies like BigBasket, Livspace, MakeMyTrip, ShopClues and UnitedLex. “While India has earned recognition as a start-up nation, it is as yet an unproven scale up nation. Ten years ago, with Helion, the attempt was to participate in creating a ‘start-up’ ecosystem in India and now with Fundamentum we want to help build a much needed ‘scale up’ ecosystem in the country,” Aggarwal said.
Besides, the focus on consumer technology businesses, a portion of its capital will also go into investments in enterprise technology and outsourcing companies serving global corporations. Besides Nilekani, the other former board members of Infosys like S Gopalakrishnan, S D Shibulal, T V Mohandas Pai and V Balakrishnan have also launched their own fund with the focus on investing in start-ups. The fund launched by Gopalakrishnan and Shibulal is called Axilor Ventures, which is an early and seed stage funding company.