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This India-US-Based Investment Vehicle Aims to Nurture Early-Stage Tech Startups "We focus on early stage proven enterprise models with revenue, and let everyone else chase unicorns"

By Sneha Banerjee

You're reading Entrepreneur India, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.

There are a number of technology startups that venture into the ecosystem every day. However, there are very few that are able to scale up due to lack of resources, funding, and talent.

In a scenario like this, Cambridge Innovations, launched in late December, provides capital and technology support to early stage companies, assisting them to get to a better Series A, faster.

Chairman Aashish Kalra spoke to Entrepreneur Media on what helps him takes investment decisions and the technology domains that could drive growth in India.

The company provides capital and technology support to early stage companies, assisting them to get to a better Series A, faster.

Cambridge invests in:

  • Teams that can succeed without us,
  • Build transformative solutions, and
  • Break the mould; while fitting into our world view and strategy.

We believe the transformative impact of big data and analytics will impact nearly every sector of the economy. We are sector agnostic, but our focus is currently on investing in three verticals. We will add further verticals such as Healthcare an Energy.

Autonomous Automated Automobiles: How people park, service and manage vehicle ownership.Companies invested: Valet Anywhere and RoadZen Inc.

Cloud, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning: Convergence of cloud and big data, fuelled by AI and Machine Learning is the big thing in the technology space and will continue to gain prominence in the future.

Companies invested: Causemo, Authess, MyCrowd and

IoT: We have begun our investment program in this vertical.

How does Cambridge Innovations work?

[AK]: When startups are trying to take innovative technology to market, not being first is fatal. They lose the chance to establish proprietary platforms. They lose the passion of product champions and investor interest. First equals real. Everything else is a knockoff. There is no substitute for getting to market fast, planting your flag and making it inhospitable for stragglers. Start-ups smart, creative and can raise capital. That's a given. But if they have any hope of seeing their invention change the world, they have to move fast, finding a way of compressing development schedules, rapidly scaling enterprise-ready products.

That's why we started Cambridge Innovations. To keep start-ups moving aggressively forward. We look for people with a vision that we can believe in. When we find them, we invest in them. And we partner on technology, putting some of the world's most experienced development teams at their disposal. We help reduce their capital risk, and accelerate their technology roadmap. Which leaves them more time for shaping and selling in their vision.

We meet, we learn about them and their team, vision, growth strategy and technology. If it goes well, we'll become an investor, participating in up to 20% of their seed round. Together, we develop a technology roadmap, identifying the most strategic areas we can help accelerate. We muster the resources we need. And we get to it.

Do you think Indian companies and startups have explored the big data market well enough? Can you name three technologies that are likely to become big in India in the next 1-2 years?

[AK ] Market globally, is in its infancy stage. We are just beginning to scratch the surface, hence no one has explored the full potential of Big Data. Big data, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the convergence of cloud and big data fuelled by AI and Machine Learning will be the next game changers, where Michael Dell has stated is "where the next trillion dollars comes from", and we believe he's underestimating it.

Big data and analytics are transforming how businesses are defined, designed and delivered. The trend is rapid and accelerating. The explosion of smartphones, tables, sensors on a global scale and the application of artificial intelligence and machine learning has seen 90% of the data in the world was created in the last two years alone and it's growing at 40% annually. IDC estimates there is, in U.S. alone, a resource shortage of 1.5M managers/analysts and 200K data scientists.

This global resource shortage fuels opportunity for Indian skilled resources to fill the gap and we are building a U.S. centric business. We have extended our presence in India with delivery offices in Hyderabad, Bangalore and Chennai which help us attract the best talent. We know big data and analytics business software coupled with consulting services will be increasingly needed, and CTE is poised to help organizations seeking to realize their business potential to capture new enterprise value by leveraging the convergence of big data and the cloud. Our focus is on delivering end-to-end services to leading vertical enterprise customers and extending to new innovative startups

What are the key requisites to build a good technology-based company?

[AK]: People – People – People. Great people will always find a solution, listen to the market and provide leadership.

Do you intend to increase your investments in India?

[AK]: The U.S. drives innovation with its startup ecosystem of approximately 48,000 startups. India is the youngest startup nation, with close to 4,500 startups. We focus on US-based start-ups since the valuations are low, and the products come with innovation and global appeal. We work with startups to bring the best companies in the world to India and are working to develop the potential to make the best companies in the world, in India. We believe this is the seed for India's future helping develop the core company building skills required to make India a leading force.

The company has completed 9 investments within six months of its inception, significantly exceeding its target of twelve investments by March 2017.

Sneha Banerjee

Entrepreneur Staff

Former Staff, Entrepreneur India

She used to write for Entrepreneur India from Bangalore and other cities in South India. 

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