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We are looking for startups with innovative business models, says Anirudh Damani, Artha Venture Fund

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New Delhi | Updated: July 2, 2018 7:14:49 AM

There is a tremendous appetite from global investors to participate in India’s growth story. . India is the fastest growing trillion-dollar economy in the world right now.

The start-up movement in the country was given a tremendous boost a year ago with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Start-Up India, Stand Up India’ call.

Mumbai-based Artha Group has launched its first institutional fund – Artha Venture Fund-I (AVF-I). The Fund expects to raise Rs 200 crore and has a green-shoe option of Rs 100 crore. The Fund is being sponsored by Artha India Ventures and Singularity Holdings and has received the approval from the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) to operate as a Category 1 venture capital fund. “We will be announcing our first close soon which will be followed by investments in 3 companies that are in advanced stages in our pipeline,” Anirudh Damani, managing partner, Artha Venture Fund, told Sudhir Chowdhary in a recent interaction. Excerpts:

What was the idea behind launching Artha Venture Fund and how did it materialise?

I started my professional and entrepreneurial career in the US, the holy grail of entrepreneurship and capitalism. I did not realise how difficult Indian entrepreneurship would be until I tried being an entrepreneur in India. It was through that experience that I developed the thesis for what type of investor I wanted Artha to be. There are no investors that are providing access to capital across multiple stages and have an entrepreneurial background and investment experience in India and the US – both.

Artha Venture Fund blends the western style of management and ethics with a healthy dose of Indian pragmatism. Therefore, I took the utmost care when choosing every member of the team, advisory board and investment committee. Their combined knowledge has led to a unique structure that provides an excellent investment opportunity for our investors as well as the right funding resources for start-ups – it is a difficult balance to achieve, but we have done exactly that.

What are the sectors that AVF is looking at investing in?

The next decade is going to be the age of Indian consumption, so my team and I are looking to invest in consumer brands & services and tap into the Indian wallet. We want to invest in sectors like consumption enablers and B2B companies in logistics, finance, data mining and artificial intelligence.

What are the major initiatives in the pipeline?

We will be announcing our first close soon which will be followed by investments in 3 companies that are in advanced stages in our pipeline. Post that, we will look at closing the hiring for a couple of individuals that can help take our portfolio further.

What are your views on the impact of Flipkart-Walmart deal on the start-up ecosystem?

The Walmart acquisition of Flipkart is the fitting finale for a decade long story. It is a clear lesson that a combination of hard work, intelligence, patience and perseverance are required for being successful in India – as an entrepreneur or as an investor.

Is there an increasing interest of global investors in India?

There is a tremendous appetite from global investors to participate in India’s growth story. A bunch of companies in our proprietary portfolio raised over $90 million for starting or growing operations in India in the last 5 months.

The writing is on the wall, India is the fastest growing trillion-dollar economy in the world right now and we are doing this without the walls of protectionism to surreptitiously protect Indian companies from global competition. Where else will capital on the lookout for long term growth and security flow?

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