The Indian ecosystem saw a deluge of funds pouring into ecommerce and cab aggregators during 2014-2015, but investors have now decided to remove certain blinders and explore the out-of-the box sectors in India. Despite not being at the top of their game, sectors like artificial intelligence, internet of things, agritech, water conservation technology and augmented reality hold a lot of promise in upcoming industrial revolution in India.
Manish Singhal, Founding Partner at Pi Ventures, spoke to Entrepreneur India on the importance of investing in emerging sectors in India. Pi Ventures, is a venture fund focused on Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence and IoT based out of India. Manish has been active in the startup ecosystem in India for several years. He co-founded LetsVenture.com and led it to become the leading marketplace for startups & early stage investors in India (enabled 15 startups raising their rounds) within a very short span of time.
Feeling the need to launch Pi Ventures
As a lead investor in Locus.sh seed round of funding, Manish realized the importance of machine learning and AI can disrupt products and make meaning in the market place. Data is an integral part of what we are doing today. Products today are consuming a lot more today that they were doing earlier. Products that build intelligence on top of data using machine learning and AI will leap frog and leave others behind,” he said.
Pi Ventures has already made its first investment in real-time cardiac monitoring device-maker ten3T. According to Manish, IoT connects the hardware world to a digital world and the ecosystem so far hasn’t been very kind to the hardware systems. However, having been part of several global and couple of India hardware programs, Manish understands the need to support this sector.
Specializing in the funding space
Manish believes that AI will be an integral part of alot products and has a significant trend to catch on and he believes being a sector-focussed fund will help the startups in a better manner. Also, being comfortable around hardware products is an added advantage to the fund.
Requisites to get funded
Apart from certain general metrics like team, product differentiation and other aspects, the fund additionally looks for a significant product IP which helps the entrepreneur really solve the problem right, Manish said. “IP for us does not mean patents. IP for us means, do you have certain intellectual property or certain way of doing things which other companies don’t have and therefore this helps you solve that particular problem really well,” he adds.
Manish believes that over the last couple of years entrepreneurs have gathered the courage to build hardware products which are an integral part of all digital interface projects and the acceptability of startups in India has jumped five-fold. Indian businesses and consumers are willing to adopt an Indian product today, he adds.
Pi currently has a two member team and Manish said the firm intends to add a couple of other members and maintain a flat structure. The firm plans to make 18-24 investments during its fund life, with most of it happening in the second year.