"India Has The Benefit Of Access To High-Quality Talent"

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At the Entrepreneur India Convention 2016 held in New Delhi last month, we caught up with David Gowdey, Managing Partner at Jungle Ventures, and asked him about the funding thesis of his firm and what he looks for in an entrepreneur. Jungle Ventures Group, an early stage Internet/tech focused venture capital firm based in Singapore, but showing huge interest on the South Asia (India, SEA, AuN AuN) region.

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What is your funding thesis?

The thesis behind our investments is really to invest in entrepreneurs and help them to regionalize their businesses. We tend to invest in regional category leaders.In the case of India-based businesses, it is helping them to expand outside the country, into South-East Asia and beyond. So most of the businesses we invest in tend to have a nexus back to South- East Asia, since we are based in Singapore.

What are the key domains that you are going to look out for 10 months down the line?

There are few in the regional category – Vertical ecommerce and Piyush, from LensKart, is a great exmaple in this category. When you are developing and selling your brand, it’s a much higher

margin profile compared to when you are selling someone else’s products.

Marketplaces – where there is a marketplace in the middle, that’s connecting fragmented supply and fragmented demand and helping those groups interact in an asset light way. 

Fintech – is the third major category that we are looking at. In India, there is a large population that don’t have access to consumer credit, they don’t have banking relationships, payments stored value. There are a lot of things that are still emerging. So we think it is an interesting space. Especially in the light of the way global banks have been trending, where they have been deciding which businesses they want to be in. We see a lot of interesting businesses come out of those teams, to create great startups.

Jungle Ventures’ portfolio can be segregated into categories such as SaaS, market places, marketing and analytics, payments, digital media and ecommerce. 

Do you think fintech as a sector has potential in India?

I think technology is an enablement for people to become part of the broader banking ecosystem. And so

some of the things Paytm is doing is super interesting. Once you have stored value, you can buy things and use those credits for all kinds of purchasing.

What kind of similarities can you spot in the entrepreneurial culture between India and other South-East Asian countries?

I think one of the benefits you have in India, is that you have better access to high-quality talent. I have been covering these markets for about 17 years and there is definitely a trend of a lot Indians going to the Silicon Valley and other countries and working for great companies.

Many of them want come back and establish their life here, reconnect with their families, thereby bring in a lot of that talent back with them. I think there are many engineering and management colleges in India that is putting a lot of high-quality people into the market.

I think other South-East Asian countries have less access to high-quality talent compared to India. Singapore has a lot of magnetism around it just because there are capital pools forming, and it’s easier to raise capital. Singapore is a great place for expats to live in and hence you are now seeinga lot  of that talent settle in Singapore. India versus South- East Asia, there is a lot more high-quality talent in India.

(This article first appeared in the Indian edition of Entrepreneur magazine October 2016 Issue)