Praveen Chakravarty, who had worked with Microsoft and IBM before starting a career in investment banking, is one of the founding members of Mumbai Angels. He started investing as a part Band of Angels in Silicon Valley and helped start Mumbai Angels when he moved to India in 2005. Currently involved in spearheading Anand Rathi’s entry into investment banking, Chakravarty says that start-ups fascinate him and investing gives him a chance to be a “vicarious entrepreneur.”
For start-ups, he has a piece of sound advice. “Spot a problem that you can solve in an economically viable manner and be absolutely focused. More importantly, entrepreneurs have to focus on hiring. If you can convince someone to give up his career and join you, you can sell to any customer,” he says.
Preferred Sectors: Initially made quite a few bets in technology space (especially in Silicon Valley), but prefers non-technology sectors in India. Currently focuses on businesses with a big impact on segments like education and financial services, among others.
Preferred Location: Since Chakravarty likes to be actively involved with companies, he prefers Mumbai-based firms.
Involvement: He likes to invest in start-ups where he can add value. He has also helped entrepreneurs right from finalising product strategy through to hiring and getting office space.
Key Investments: Chakravarty has invested 14 companies which include InMobi (formerly mKhoj), Madhouse, Zipdial, Speakwell and Anil Kumble’s Tenvic, among others. Other undisclosed investments include a revolutionary payment technology company and a micro loan company. He has made 14 investments so far and exited four. Typically opts for 3-4 investments a year.
Hits & Misses: “I started investing thinking that at least one out of 20 start-ups will work,” says Chakravarty who had some misses in the USA. Out of the 14 investments in India, 10 companies have raised follow-on rounds at a valuation of minimum three times of his entry valuation. And the four exits have fetched between 4x and 50x.