Parag Dhol, 48, Managing Director at India portfolio of US-based early stage venture capital firm Inventus Capital Partners. The proud redBus investor wants entrepreneurs, who writes to him for money, to get at least one thing straight – if they feel that they have already arrived on the basis of what their idea is, then they might not get to meet him for the second time. So never close your mind to learning - his mantra for young entrepreneurs. And that’s not it. If you are more than three sharing a single idea, then think before you pitch - he doesn’t like the crowd of co-founders. Dhol shares what clicked him for three businesses which are next in line to ‘arrive’. Happy Pitching!
UNBXD HIGHLIGHT – MAKE ONLINE SEARCH HYPER RELEVANT
We all know online search is broken, particularly when you shop. Even today, there are no platforms which talk to you, they can’t exactly provide what you want based on your spending behavior. For retailers of all kinds, except the ones like Amazon which can spend a fortune to fix a problem, it means loss of everything – prospective customer, time, efforts and of course money.
The answer to such miseries: Bengaluru-based Unbxd, an e-commerce product discovery solution, that Inventus ‘discovered’ in 2014 and put series A round. “Pavan Sondur (Founder - unbxd) always had entrepreneurial ambitions and he always stood out because of that. He and his CoFounder Prashant Kumar were two raw engineers who believed that search in e-commerce for retailers was broken because it was done in an unstructured way,” says Dhol. The fund took the call based on the chemistry between the two founders and complementary skills. “Even if both of them are techies, does one of them have a sales orientation who can sell?” he adds .
MOVE IN SYNC HIGHLIGHT – OPTIMIZE CAPACITY UTILIZATION
Working for a company that comforts you with the luxury of pick up and drop services? Great, but how often do you get picked up last and dropped first? Probably that sounds bit farfetched but for companies offering such services, employee transport management is a mess. Companies usually don’t know which way would be the shortest for your cab in X route, in case one or two of employees in that cab roster don’t turn up. The system has been pretty much unsynced.
MoveInSync in which Inventus along with Saama Capital and Qualcomm Ventures put $2.2 million in 2014, syncs exactly that. “In transporting employees the catch is that someone in transport department does all the calculations mentally for rerouting vehicles. Now think about the capacity utilization in this; when two people take a cab meant for four. So through technology, if a particular employee is on leave, can the system reroute itself in such a way that it still remains efficient? MoveInSync solves this,” affirms Dhol. The company gained instant limelight by having Google as their first customer. “When we invested they had around Rs 25 lakh revenue monthly which has grown 10x in last two-and-a-half years and from eight customers to 45 today,” he explains.
FUNDS INDIA HIGHLIGHT – DRIVE EFFICIENCY IN INVESTMENT VEHICLES
For those who trade in mutual funds and other financial products, the ban on entry load for mutual funds to charge 2.25 of the amount invested by investors complying to the Securities and Exchange Board of India rules had hit mutual fund houses. But before that the opportunity already existed for an online platform to offer an investment platform less than the entry load for investors.
Chennaibased C.R. Chandrasekar and Srikanth Meenakshi had launched FundsIndia in 2008 to be that platform; and the ban that followed gave the idea a huge push for Inventus to back them with Rs 3 crore. “The space is pretty diverse and fragmented in India. You can buy mutual funds online that constitutes 85 per cent of their business,” asserts Dhol. FundsIndia has up to Rs 3,000 crore worth assets under management and is the second best company in the space in terms of stability of assets. “This means that mutual fund houses like HDFC and ICICI love it because the investor is staying with you for a longer time than with offline funds. So FundsIndia has attracted a very keen set of investors,” he states.
(This article was first published in the May issue of Entrepreneur Magazine. To subscribe, click here)