2016 saw a year of funding slowdown, 2017 might just see the reign of sector-focussed funds in India. These are funds that cater to only a particular sector which are very niche and less explored.
While big wigs like Accel Partners, Sequoia take a bite of every sector across the ecosystem, sector-focussed funds tend to be more territorial. Here are few examples –
Ankur Capital – This Mumbai-based fund specially looks into the needs to the agritech sector. Though agriculture is considered to be one of the diciest sectors, Ankur has placed its bets on a variety of technology companies in this space, which include startups like Cropin – amalgamating cloud technology with farms, Suma Agro – soil conditioner manufacturer, Skillveri – trains industry workers with VR, Karma Healthcare and more.
While there are new funds that are catering into this sector, Omnivore Partners is an old messiah to the agritech space. Having seen the VC space evolve in India for six years now, Mark Kahn its Founding Partner wants lesser involvement from the government in the agriculture sector. The fund’s investments include Mitra, Barrix, Skymet, Stellapps and more.
pi Ventures is India’s first Applied Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning & IoT focused early stage venture fund, founded by Manish Singhal (ex. Cofounder & CEO, LetsVenture and prominent angle investor) and Umakant Soni (Ex. Director India, Science Inc & Co-founder AI BOT company, 2010). Backed by some of the leading entrepreneurs globally, pi Ventures brings hands-on product and entrepreneurial experience to the India venture investing ecosystem. The fund intends to invest in early-stage AI-focussed startups. Pi recently invested in real-time cardiac monitoring company ten3T.
While Aspada Investments might not be sector –focussed, their investment criterion makes it a very niche player in the VC business. As per Sahil Kini, Principal at Aspada, the firm aims to serve the category that falls between an annual income bracket of 2 Lac and 10 lac per annum. Aspada’s India portfolio consists of startups like LEAF - an end-to-end fresh fruit and vegetable supply chain company, INI Farms, exporter of pomegranates, EM3 Agri Services -which provides farm mechanization services from land preparation to crop harvesting on a pay-per-acre basis, Reverie Language Technologies – which provides an end-to-end Language-as-a-Service (LaaS) platform and others.
With entrepreneurs now realizing the need to target innovation and solving real problems over blindly following sector trends, these sector-focussed funds are definitely worth exploring on 2017.