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Byju’s backer Lightspeed India Partners raises third fund, expands team
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Lightspeed India Partners, which has backed startups such as Byju’s, Oyo and ShareChat, said on Tuesday it has raised $275 million (Rs 2052 crore) for its new fund.

The venture capital firm’s third fund will continue to focus on early-stage startups in India and support them through their growth lifecycle, Lightspeed said in a statement.

Lightspeed initially invested in India through its global funds. Since it began operating in the country in 2007, it has committed more than 80% of its investments at the seed and Series A stages.

Separately, Hemant Mohapatra, a partner at Lightspeed India, tweeted that Romit Mehta has joined the VC firm. According to Mehta's LinkedIn profile, he has joined as an investment professional. He was earlier a senior associate at impact investment firm LGT Lightstone.

The VC firm did not shed light on its Limited Partners (LPs) for the third fund. In July, however, VCCircle had reported that Lightspeed’s third India fund had received commitment from the US-based Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund. The pension fund had invested in Lightspeed India’s second fund as well.

The announcement comes amid the growing coronavirus crisis that has crippled businesses and delayed the fundraising process for many private equity and venture capital firms.

Lightspeed said it believes this is when the best entrepreneurs and companies of the future will emerge.

“Strong founders are utilizing the tailwinds of India’s digital ecosystem growth to build out a new future, and Lightspeed is strongly committed to backing these founders,” it added.

The VC firm had launched its first India-dedicated fund of $135 million in 2015. In 2018, it had added another $175 million with its second India-focussed investment vehicle.

Typically an early-stage investor, Lightspeed continues to make late-stage investments from its global fund.

In April, Lightspeed said it raised over $4 billion (Rs 30,571.60 crore) across three funds to invest in early- and growth-stage startups globally.

Lightspeed’s first local portfolio firm was online education company TutorVista Global Pvt. Ltd. It was one of the early investors in branded budget hotels marketplace Oyo. Its portfolio also includes ed-tech firm Byju’s, B2B marketplace Udaan, social networking platform ShareChat and food-tech firm FreshMenu.

In terms of exits, Lightspeed made a multi-bagger from its partial exit from Oyo. It has made eight other exits so far, according to VCCEdge, the research arm of Mosaic Digital. These include stake sales in TutorVista, electricity trading platform Indian Energy Exchange and digital payments company ItzCash.

A slew of venture capital firms have announced fundraising milestones or have hit the road to raise new funds this year. Last month, for instance, Sequoia Capital raised a record corpus for India and Southeast Asia investments.

Mumbai-based VC firm Equanimity Investments marked the final close of its debut fund with an oversubscription, VCCircle reported last month.

In May, VCCircle reported that domestic early-stage VC firm Stellaris Venture Partners had hit the road to raise a new fund to raise more capital than its debut investment vehicle. Sixth Sense Ventures is also floating its third consumer-focused fund.

Also in May, venture capital firm Iron Pillar, which provides growth capital to mid-stage technology companies in India, said it had topped up its first fund with $45 million.
A few VC firms such as Blume Ventures and Unicorn India Ventures had also hit fundraising milestones before the pandemic gripped India. Earlier this year, co-founders of Parampara Capital also floated a second fund that seeks to raise $100 million.

In 2019, around a dozen venture capital firms including Accel, A91 Partners and Lightbox marked the final close of their funds.

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