Earlier this year, one of India’s most active VC fund, Blume Ventures, decided to form a strategic alliance called Draper Venture Network (DVN), an independent venture capital firm to connect leading entrepreneurs with investors around the world. The alliance will give Blume Ventures’ portfolio, which includes start-ups such as Runnr, Locus and Exotel, access to a global network of corporate and ecosystem relationships.
Entrepreneur asked Gabe Turner, Executive Director at Draper, as to what brought about this strategic alliance in India, which is seemingly recovering from a funding slowdown. “It’s actually an opportune moment for Indian VCs; through the recent market correction, much like US/Silicon Valley, valuations are coming down, while activity/deal flow is just as high. Blume just closed its second fund and it’s a great time to have dry powder. De-monetization has created a massive fin-tech opportunity, while the government-initiated ‘Start-up India’ program is encouraging founders to innovate in the areas of robotics, hardware, clean energy, and more,” Turner said.
Turner, the ‘Captain at Draper Network’, navigates the alliance through the ever-changing seas of venture capital. He has a background in strategy consulting and entrepreneurship. An undergraduate at UC Berkeley and a graduate student at Harvard Business School, Turner originally hails from Montevideo, Uruguay.
When asked to draw comparisons between the funding process in India and the Silicon Valley, Turner said that the funding process is somewhat similar in both the regions; however the competition is more intensive in the Valley, both amongst start-ups with similar concepts and amongst VCs vying for the same great opportunities.
“So in the Valley, this often results in higher valuations and founder-friendly terms, but start-ups there face high performance expectations from their investors; if they don’t meet aggressive milestones, then they can have trouble raising a future round. In India, there is certainly competition, but it’s fewer funds chasing fewer (good) deals,” he said.
Massive opportunities underway in India
Turner said that the Indian consumer opportunity continues to be massive, with mobile usage, the middle class and the ‘Bharat’ brand (i.e. outside the major urban areas) growing at a rapid pace. “India tech is well poised to be a leader in this space, and Blume is already backing its next batch of stars that are solving India-specific, large-market problems,” he said.
What Indian Entrepreneurs could learn
From Turner’s perspective of the Indian start-up ecosystem, here’s what he believes what local entrepreneurs could include in their business model – Understand the 'willingness to pay' the customer; realize if they are value or benefit driven and price accordingly. A better grasp of customer acquisition costs and projected burn rates; bigger vision for the long-term; can help the company expand the customer pie within India or to similar regions globally?
Draper is looking for local funds in India to join the DVN Beta program, which includes seed-stage and micro VC funds from the US and across.