Bessemer Venture Partners Bets Big on E-commerce

The portfolio companies of this VC firm include Bigbasket, Swiggy, Pharmeasy, Urbanclap and DocsApp, among others.
Bessemer Venture Partners Bets Big on E-commerce
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Vishal Gupta, the MBA graduate from IIM Calcutta who joined Bessemer in 2006, now serves as a partner and the managing director for the Bengaluru office where he primarily focuses on investments in consumer internet, financial technologies and healthcare technology.

Interestingly, Gupta claims that he was unaware of the existence of Venture Capital industry in early 2000s when he was a senior manager in the treasury at Reliance Group, where he helped establish a private equity fund that invested in companies such as Celebrity Fashions, Adlabs, and other firms in healthcare and financial services. “The treasury team was investing as part of that fund. That is how I got introduced to early private equity and venture capital. Later, when Bessemer came to India in 2006, that was when I thought it was an interesting career choice and that’s how I moved to venture capital,” he says.

Flipkart, which launched in 2007, he says, was the actual beginning of the venture capital in India. When asked about his investment of $1 billion in the Flipkart he agrees that the internet was sparse because of its cost and none was willing to put money in such a start-up. However, Bessemer saw the potential in the founders and invested which later turned out to be a great success. Vishal believes that the success of Flipkart was the success of the entire ecosystem.

Venture capitals, according to him, are looking for something disruptive and non-linear. “Phones and internet are the mass distributors of products and services. If it grows from, let’s say, $50 million to $500 million, you can grow along with that curve which gives you disproportionate non-linear growth. That is what VCs are looking for and not any compounding 20% year-on-year growth,” Vishal believes.

Talking about the Indian market he said there has never been any problem of demand in the country but the supply system is fragmented as there are multiple levels through which the product reaches the end consumer. “We saw potential in Swiggy as it has its own organised logistic system,” Vishal says.

(This article was first published in the November 2019 issue of Entrepreneur Magazine. To subscribe, click here)

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