Rural BPO DesiCrew raises $1.2M from responsAbility Ventures, Ventureast

IIT Chennai-incubated rural BPO service provider DesiCrew Solution Pvt Ltd has raised Rs 7 crore ($1.12 million) in Series B round of funding from responsAbility Ventures I, and Ventureast Tenet Fund II, the fund managed by Ventureast Fund Advisors India Ltd. Although there was no formal announcement to that effect, DesiCrew reportedly raised Series A round of institutional funding last year after getting angel backing from Rajiv Kuchhal, a former executive at Infosys, who now sits on the board of DesiCrew. Kuchhal was one of the founding members of Infosys BPO (earlier Progeon), where he was the head of operations and subsequently the head of business transformation. The IIT Delhi alumnus then moved to OnMobile, as the Chief Operating Officer, a role he quit in 2008, around the same time he made the angel investment in DesiCrew.

Founded by Saloni Malhotra, DesiCrew started as an incubatee of IIT-Madras’ rural technology business incubator in 2005 and spun out as a commercial entity in 2007. It offers services including generating, populating and moderating content, digitisation, live chat responses, mail room activities, project management, secondary research, transcription, translation, beta testing of web products, localisation of web products and website monitoring.

Saloni has previously worked at Web Chutney and served as the CEO of DesiCrew from 2007 to 2011 before handing over the chief executive’s baton to Ramesh Maganti.

Currently, it employs more than 130 people across five centres in Tamil Nadu and expects to expand its workforce to 1,000 employees in the coming years.

responsAbility Ventures I, a fund managed by Switzerland-headquartered responsAbility India Business Advisors Pvt Ltd (founded in 2003), is a social investment fund which focuses in the area of microfinance, SME financing, independent media, healthcare, education etc. With assets under management of over $1 billion, responsAbility has invested in 372 companies across 70 countries.

Ventureast Tenet Fund II is a $15 million fund which invests up to $1 million in its portfolio firms. The 2007 vintage seed stage fund invests across cleantech, enterprise mobility, credential verification and IT outsourcing service providers among others.

In June this year, Ventureast invested an undisclosed amount in product review portal Reviews42, owned by New Delhi-based Solvy Tech Solutions Pvt Ltd alongwith Blume Ventures.

Bangalore-based law firm Lawyers At Work (L.A.W.) advised DesiCrew and K Law advised the investors on the transaction.

(Edited by Prem Udayabhanu)

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