Mahindra Group chairman Anand Mahindra has invested an undisclosed amount in Delhi-based LocalCircles India Pvt Ltd, which runs a community-based social network LocalCircles.com, according to a statement.
The startup will use the funding to augment its reach to over 30 million citizens in five years. It is also in discussions with several social-impact investors for its next round of funding to raise around Rs 20 crore.
As part of the transaction, Mahindra, who had earlier this year invested in another tech startup DishCo, a mobile marketplace application that connects restaurants and customers, will also be joining the board of the company.
Godrej Industries’ managing director Nadir Godrej, who had invested an undisclosed amount in the startup in 2013, and Maruti Suzuki’s chairman RC Bhargava are also on the LocalCircles’ advisory board.
“I am making this investment (in LocalCircles) because this is what is termed a ‘shared value’ project, where you can do well and do good at the same time,” Mahindra said. “I think LocalCircles has the potential to make things better for average citizens by empowering them to help themselves, and that is an exciting prospect,” he added.
Mahindra, 60, has been investing in Indian startups in his personal capacity.
“Anand Mahindra’s understanding of social challenges in India will be a great asset for LocalCircles in achieving its potential to do good,” said Sachin Taparia, chairman and CEO of LocalCircles.
Previously, Mahindra also backed for-profit social enterprise Naandi Community Water Services, a joint venture with multinational food products giant Groupe Danone; Araku Originals, the marketing arm of a tribal co-operative that sells premium coffee to several boutique roasters in the West; and Naandi Education Support and Training, which provides educational support to children from marginalised communities in Indian cities.
Founded in 2012, LocalCirles’s founding team comprises Sachin Taparia, former India head of Aviall Inc, a wholly-owned subsidiary of global aerospace major Boeing; former Juniper executive Mukesh Gupta; former Oracle executive Abhishek Gupta; and Yatish Rajawat, former group managing editor of Dainik Bhaskar Group.
The startup allows users to connect for various causes, such as tackling civic and legal problems, governance issues and finding emergency assistance. Currently, it has communities in at least 200 cities in India.