The Gaming Vanguard: Salone Sehgal

Lumikai aims to be at the vanguard of driving innovation and building an enduring venture capital institution delivering value creation for all its stakeholders

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By Saptak Bardhan

Salone Sehgal, founding general partner, Lumikai

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Lumikai was launched in 2020 to focus on the untapped potential of India's gaming market. In 2022, India became the world's biggest download market of mobile games consuming 15 billion mobile gaming apps, with 507 million players, 120 million paying gamers and market size of $2.6 billion growing at 30 per cent compound annual growth rate on track to hit $8.6 billion by 2027.

Salone has over a decade and a half of experience as a global games and media investor, entrepreneur and former M&A banker. Previously, she was principal at LVP. She was the co-founder and CEO of TrulySocial, a venture backed gaming company building immersive social worlds. Prior to that, she was vice-president of Barclays Global COO Office with previous experience in investment banking with Morgan Stanley. Salone serves on task groups for CII, India Digital Gaming Society, AVGC and IAMAI. Over the last 2 years, the fund has evaluated 1,200-plus deals in the ecosystem and built a portfolio of 12-plus companies resulting in an over 40 per cent internal rate of return.

"The government of India recently designated gaming as one of the 12 champion service sectors and announced key policy measures aimed at nurturing sustained growth. The animation and gaming industries employ technology extensively while demonstrating India's well-established capabilities in ITES and technology. As per certain projections stated in the AVGC task force report, India could achieve its potential of 20 lakh jobs in the sector. Forward thinking policy and the rapid growth in the sector will also facilitate entry of foreign players to make investments, set up Indian subsidiaries, co-create IP with Indian counterparts and provide employment opportunities. Thus, I believe gaming will be a key driver of growth in the M&E sector over the next decade," said Salone Sehgal, founding general partner, Lumikai

Salone successfully co-launched a highly specialized funding strategy for a sector that was previously untapped, in the midst of a pandemic, raising capital from iconic multi-billion dollar gaming and media conglomerates. She earned the distinction of being the world's first female general partner of a gaming and interactive media fund.

"While highs and lows are part of the journey, navigating market cycles, changing investor sentiments, dealing with cognitive biases, tackling fear of missing out (FOMO), having contrarian views and working with founders through thick and thin are all part of the VC life - all of this involves peaks and trough moments which are big learning opportunities," added Sehgal.

Lumikai aims to be at the vanguard of driving innovation and building an enduring venture capital institution delivering value creation for all its stakeholders. Lumikai has backed companies like Loco, Eloelo, Bombay Play, Studio Sirah and many others. The portfolio companies have raised over INR 670-plus crores of funding securing capital and co-investments from leading global and domestic players. Lumikai has been successful in building a tribe of India's most forward thinking founders, across category-leading plays in content, platforms, tools/tech, and infrastructure bets in the interactive media landscape.

As an organization, under Salone's leadership, the team at Lumikai pride themselves in maintaining a diverse team alongside embracing HR policies that are women/family friendly (e.g. gender neutral and sensitised job descriptions, remote working, nanny care, work-from-home allowances, flexible hours, etc), resulting in a 40 per cent female:male ratio, distinct from other male dominated VC funds.

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