Nirvana Venture Advisors, which is raising a $75 million venture fund anchored by the Patni family, has roped in former eBay India country manager Rajan Mehra as its managing director. Mehra (in pic), who is currently a venture partner at Clearstone Venture Advisors India, has told VCCircle that he will also continue at the US-headquartered VC firm, which will look at co-investments in India.
Earlier this year, the Patni family had sold their 45.6 per cent stake in India’s sixth largest IT firm Patni Computer Systems to iGate Corporation and Apax Partners. Amit Patni, son of the eldest Patni brother Gajendra, is the chairman of Nirvana Venture Advisors Pvt Ltd.
With this anchor investment from Gajendra Patni family, Nirvana will look to raise funds from domestic and overseas limited partners.
Nirvana Venture now plans to make bets on India’s digital consumption space, investing in mobile and internet start-ups across the country. It plans to invest $500K to $4 million in early-stage start-ups, besides later-stage investments.
“The dynamics that are taking place in the Indian market with factors like the roll-out of 3G technology, mobile becoming the dominant mode of communication (consumption) and the heightened level of innovation lead me to believe that we are at an inflection point,” said Mehra, who will also be the key man for the fund, about Nirvana’s investment focus.
With an anchor commitment, Nirvana has already started to evaluate transactions and expects the first few transactions in the early-stage segments. The firm is also looking to expand its team, according to Rajan Mehra.
Mehra will continue to sit on the board of Clearstone’s India investments – IndiaIdeas.com Ltd (Billdesk) and Games2Win India Pvt Ltd. Besides he also sits on the board of online classifieds firm Quickr.
According to him, Clearstone will now make fresh investment in India through the co-investment route. Clearstone has backed companies like PayPal and has raised $650 million of committed capital. Incidentally, its India founding director Rahul Khanna had quit to join global venture capital firm Canaan Partners India as a managing director in March this year.
"In many aspects, venture capital investing is beginning to hit its stride," said Mehra. He believes that investors realize Indian technology space has the potential to create tens of billions of dollars in value in the next 10 years as China's economy did in the early 2000s and US did in mid-to-late 90s.
Interest among domestic and overseas investors in the Indian venture industry has been increasing as there have been several profitable exits since 2010 like those of InMobi (Mumbai Angels), Mango Technologies (Ojas Venture Partners), Metahelix (Nadathur Holdings), Carwale (Seedfund) and MakeMyTrip (SAIF Partners).
Mehra is a graduate from Sydenham College, Mumbai, and Darden School (University of Virginia). Before joining Clearstone in 2008, he was the country manager for eBay India and a member of the eBay Asia Pacific leadership team. At eBay, he was also responsible for incubating eBay India Motors Marketplace, India’s first B2B marketplace for used vehicles and setting up payment service PaisaPay.
Previously, Mehra was in various operating roles and a part of the management team of Baazee.com, which was acquired by eBay in 2004. He is also the co-founder of online automotive auction portal MotorExchange, which has raised funding from Canaan Partners and Epiphany Ventures.