This India-UK Innovation Fund is Taking Baby Steps to be able to Invest in India's Best Startups

The Innovation Fund focused on investing in FinTech, Smart Cities Tech and Emerging Technology is a unique offering and is an interesting place for startups to venture into for investments

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Former Associate Editor, Entrepreneur India
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It’s not long ago that Mahesh Ramachandran, the Sloan Fellow of London Business School, decided to return to India to lead as Partner of Pontaq – a 50 million euros UK India Innovation Fund.

Ramachandran, the co-Founder of Commonwealth Micro Finance (India) Ltd, has extensive experience in concepts and start-ups to successful businesses. He advises in the areas of corporate governance, systems thinking, leadership development, emerging markets and social entrepreneurship.

The Pontaq Innovation Fund focused on investing in FinTech, Smart Cities Tech and Emerging Technology is a unique offering and is an interesting place for startups to venture into for investments.

It is the first UK-based fund with a focus on UK-India start-ups and is set to creat the UK-India Innovation Fund 3 (UIIF-3) with a corpus of more than INR 400 crore to pump into 15-20 startups.

In a conversation with Entrepreneur India, Ramachandran spoke about the areas that are hot for investments in India and UK.

“With regard to Pontaq, UK-India fund we actually look it as most of the venture capital companies are emphasizing on the USA corridor, we happen to be one of them and we believe that the post Brexit world, we’d have more India-UK collaboration happening. So we focus on technology transfer not only from UK to India but also from India to UK and that’s exactly why we believe opportunities exist in terms of our focus areas.”

How Are Startups Identified by India-UK fund

Although Pontaq has nine companies in our portfolio – namely Divido, GoodBox, Novastone, GR Green Running, Switchee, Funding Xchange, Welendus, Cornerstone in the UK – we have now announced that we are going to have our company base in Hyderabad which is very interesting.

Ramachandran thinks transforming an idea into an enterprise is very important.

“I think most of our entrepreneurs need not to be worried about the dilution of capital. The equity that they need is something to be worried about, and the bigger picture is having a small stake of a large company is more relevant than having a large stake in a small company that’s too begin with and the second thing is most of the entrepreneurs who have got an idea have to understand these three things and that is : Who are their customers, What is their value position, how do they make money – if any of these questions are not answered than they are not actually starting a business and these questions have to be answered and if an idea is not adequate they need to have strategy execution they need to have strategy execution which is more important.” Ramachandran said.

Sometimes, startups need to have a right team and the combination they need to be able to convince the customer to make the purchase and that they need to make sure that the revenue is coming in, as an investor he would be happy to invest in companies that have revenues coming in so for the entrepreneur need to build a business model and a business plan which is actually answering these three questions and build the business plan so these are the steps that they can start, Ramachandran explains.

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