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A decade as an Entrepreneur Inspired her to become a Venture Capitalist With a whooping $650 million under management, here's the story of Vani Kola of Kalaari Capital

By Punita Sabharwal

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After spending a decade as an entrepreneur, Vani Kola turned Venture Capitalist in 2006 supporting world-class
entrepreneurs in building their companies. Gaining perspectives on being both sides of the table, she feels she's better able to empathize with founders. Sharing her biggest challenge as an entrepreneur, Kola says, "I am an engineer by training. When I started my first company, it was very hard to drop my engineer's hat and don the business person's hat. It took me a good year to nurture those skill-sets and build a real business with real customers and a strong sales
operation."

On finding a place in a maledominated domain which is funding, Kola says, "I prefer peace to conflict. It might be because I am a woman. At times, this can be taken advantage of. I also think as a woman I don't fight to get credit. A simple example, as a founder of IUVP, I don't fuss when I am not attributed or when others claim credit for my work, I don't try to rectify."

Kalaari Capital has $650 million under management, spanning across three funds. The current, which is Fund III, was closed last year at $290 million. Some of India's top e-commerce companies like Snapdeal, Myntra (now part of Flipkart) and UrbanLadder are under Kalaari's portfolio. Talking about Kalaari's achievements in 2015, she says, "2015 was a market-frenzy year, we put our head down and continue to do our work rather than get carried away by the cycles that are bound to go up and down." This year, Kalaari launched a seed program called Kstart to back founders at seed stage. "I am very excited about partnering with disruptive companies much earlier in their journeys through Kstart," says Kola.

(Article first appeared in the Entrepreneur Magazine, March 2016 edition)

Punita Sabharwal

Entrepreneur Staff

Managing Editor, Entrepreneur India

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