From funding a wealth management firm to a speciality condiments maker, Saama Capital has managed to invest in a very diverse range of companies. The firm, which has been an investor in e-commerce firms like Snapdeal, has made several non-tech bets like Chai Point and Raw Pressery.
In an interaction with Entrepreneur India, Ash Lilani- Co founder of Saama Capital elaborated on their decision making strategies and his idea of an ideal VC firm.
What is the idea behind investing in F&B companies like Raw PRessery, VeebaFoods? What do you think about this market?
At Saama, we believe that the Indian consumer has evolved over recent years. They are more global and aspirational. They are expecting global level products and services with better and healthier choices especially in F&B, though at affordable prices. We believe that given India¹s middle and upper middle class populations, there will be many new brands and categories built in the consumer space that will be able to achieve scale at a much faster pace than the rest of the world. Companies like Raw Pressery, Veeba, Chaipoint are all examples of such companies
What do you look in a business model prior to investing?
First and foremost we look at the space they are in and if we believe there is a differentiating strategy or product and whether they are disruptive. We also have to be convinced that the segment is large and that scale can be built. The team is important and we try to assess if they are open to building a good team, thoughtful, have strong ethics and smart enough to pivot strategy as needed depending on market and circumstances.
Lastly, we have to be convinced that if the company does scale and performs, there are potential exit strategies and acquirers that would be interested in the company
What according to you is the role of a VC in a startup that they are betting on; does it go beyond the money?
A VC¹s role does go beyond the money. There are no set rules on how to add value. Each company and founder are different and each situation is unique. A good VC figures out what the best way is to engage and where they can really help the company based on need and expertise. It could be strategy, recruiting, fundraising, personal coaching etc.
What goes behind forming a good VC team?
A good VC team is based on a partnership that has a balanced skill set and alignment on fund strategy. It should have healthy and constructive debate incorporated into their decision making process. Partnerships are like marriage so communication, trust, candor are all very much required to ensure a long term and sustainable partnership. Also, all members of the team have to be held to high standards of ethics and governance.
What is going to be your investing strategies in 2017?
Our investing strategy has been consistent since we started investing in 2006. We will stay focused on early stage companies and be balanced between tech enabled and consumer non tech opportunities. Areas of interest are fintech, SaaS and consumer non-tech.