Palo Alto, California-based venture capitalist Asha Jadeja Motwani recently launched the Motwani Institute for Thought Leadership in Innovation (MITLI). Among her other initiatives, Asha founded Dot Edu Ventures along with her late husband and former Stanford professor Rajeev Motwani — the architect of Google’s algorithmic system. In her recent visit to New Delhi, she spoke with FE’s Anupam Chatterjee to shed some light on her plans and perception about the start-up ecosystem in the country.
Which investment areas are you focussing in the Indian start-up space?
I am looking at new avenues like the augmented reality and virtual reality. There is ample scope of growth in these spaces in the country. To be more specific, we would really be interested in supporting start-ups which work in artificial intelligence-based medical interventions. Checking blood sugar and blood pressure levels can be done at homes and the results can be digitally mapped and transmitted to get the best in class diagnoses and subsequent prognosis. There is a huge market here still left to be tapped.
Since large companies such as GE are also in this area, what chances do start-ups stand?
We are going to piggyback on the big players which are also planning to foray in this space. This is actually a more congruous avenue for angel investors where big conglomerates have a tough time. I know a few such start-ups from the bay area which have been successfully working in this kind of market in Africa. The contours of these markets are acquainted to indigenous start-ups than the global big boys.
What are your views on the Indian start-up environment?
Less regulations always help in the growth of the start-up system. I am always perplexed at why the Indian success-narrative in the silicon valley is not emulated in our own country. The bureaucratic red-tapism is probably the biggest challenge that impedes the proliferation of the eco-system in India. I am a proponent of complete removal of all kinds of regulations for upcoming entrepreneurs.
Tell us about MITLI’s key objectives
We have created a $30 million endowment fund for the institute. We plan to initiate exchange programmes between Stanford University and Indian academia. We are keen on enriching academic excellence through knowledge-sharing in the fields of policy, healthcare-technology, education and computer science. We hope that such endeavours would encourage entrepreneurship, especially in the under-developed parts of the country. We want to utilise the indigenous ingenuity in terms of innovation.