Decoding Investment Strategies in Multiple Societal Sectors – From an Investor's Viewpoint

Identifying problem areas and creating newer technology-driven models to solve issues.

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When it comes to key problem areas and domains on which entrepreneurs mandate themselves to find solutions for, it only becomes imperative for the community to understand, from veteran investors, on the models that the latter community looks at. With investors’ strategies and sector-specific analysis, being the criteria, Entrepreneur India interacted with Revathy Ashok (as part of a three-part series) to find out what her sector-specific insights are from an investment perspective and how she manages to decode businesses coming up with a pool of ideas.

Revathy Ashok

From a veteran investor’s viewpoint –Evaluating businesses and entrepreneurship in the Indian healthcare sector

“Healthcare investment is a great opportunity. The market in India is still underserved which means that there is enough scope for technology to be a big enabler,” infers Ashok.

She states that the slew of diagnostic models to help in early detection of diseases such as cancer can be smartly improvised through next-gen technology-driven entrepreneurial models backed by robust funding.

From an investment perspective, the key question to ask is with regard to the validity of the technology. Ashok adds that the ability of the investors to understand and decipher entrepreneurs employing deep science is a primary focus.

“We look at academic collaborations, strong scientific advisory boards; to understand that the science is in the right direction. The ability of entrepreneurs to put together strong advisory boards and have their entire work validated through expert healthcare professionals is part of technology validation from an investor’s perspective is required,” adds Ashok.

Ashok also reiterates that the healthcare research requires in-depth analysis, in comparison to that of the basic research involved in a sector like information technology (IT). Also, the level of accuracy in an aspect such as diagnostics needs to be validated from the scratch to improve businesses. Even the entrepreneur’s view on outcomes and predictors is checked.

Finally, if an entrepreneur claims a cure for a disorder, then efficacy studies are undertaken to ascertain outcomes.

“At this point in time, we are evaluating businesses serving micro healthcare aspects such as Wellness, Nutrition, Fitness, and more. Scalability and the team mustered by a venture is also looked at,” shares Ashok.

Addressing societal problems versus returns

“Like other businesses, investment is also a business. We should not make this assumption about investors solving societal problems. The money-raising mandate is important,” states Ashok. She is straight-forward about the fact that if the money-raising mandate (by ventures) is a normal fund, then investors also expect the same kind of returns.

Ashok also makes mentions about social impact funds which are dedicated towards solving societal issues. These are the investors working towards set causes. However, it is worth noting that these investments are difficult.

Evaluating entrepreneurship and ventures in the Indian agriculture sector

Startups addressing the issue of aggregating the farmer community are looked upon as an exciting area by Ashok. “The real question is scalability,” advises Ashok.

She looks at models where there is sufficient information for farmers so that they do not end up selling produce at distress pricing.

“Make yourself really strong as a regional player, and then grow,” advises Ashok to Entrepreneurs.