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This VC Firm Stays Ahead By Identifying Trends Before They Become Popular As an early-stage venture capital firm, Kalaari invests in new trends that they think would bring change and cause disruption across sectors

By Debroop Roy

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Kalaari Capital
Rajesh Raju, Managing Director, Kalaari Capital

For Kalaari Capital, staying ahead of the curve is a necessity. As an early-stage venture capital firm, it invests in new trends and technologies that they think would bring change and cause disruption across sectors.

"We aspire to stay ahead of the curve and bet on business models and emerging trends and emerging sectors three to four years before they become a norm," said Kalaari's managing director Rajesh Raju in an interview with Entrepreneur India.

Some of the firm's star investments include Indian e-commerce firms Myntra/Flipkart and Snapdeal.

As most of the trends that the firm invests in, rarely has any historical precedence, it becomes important that they try and paint a picture of what the future might look like.

"We at Kalaari are very particular about trying to connect those dots and we do quite a bit of research, background work, get a lot of the entrepreneurs in these emerging areas via various means," Raju said.

Having a System In Place

Three years ago, the firm launched "Kstart', a seed programme for the next generation of Indian entrepreneurs working on disruptive ideas.

"We get entrepreneurs who no one is talking to at the table, get to them early and continue to encourage them with any help that we can provide," said Raju.

For Kalaari, it is important that the start-ups they back get all the help they need. "Not just capital but any sort of knowledge transfer or any sort of help in terms of mentorship, including space and facilities."

This proactive approach ensures entrepreneurs think of Kalaari first when they eventually think of raising funds.

Getting Hands Dirty

According to Raju, entrepreneurs come to the firm because they know that they would be able to seek any kind of help from Kalaari.

"And that's why they come to Kalaari because they know that we will get our hands dirty along with them," he said.

The firm tries to be as hands on as possible in the first couple of years and once operations are running smoothly, Kalaari tries to be a guiding force from the company's board.

Finite Investment Cycle

Kalaari is clear in communicating about its finite investment cycle to the start-ups it works with, Raju said.

"We explain to entrepreneurs our fund life is a finite term, in which we need to invest and return capital to our investors," he added. "And sometimes there is no other option for an exit other than an M&A and we hope the entrepreneurs are aligned with us to sell the company; if they want to continue with the company, we do everything possible in our capacity to help them stay and continue to build the company."

Debroop Roy

Former Correspondent

Covering the start-up ecosystem in and around Bangalore. Formerly an energy reporter at Reuters. A film, cricket buff who also writes fiction on weekends.
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