Abhijeet Pai
9Unicorns partner Abhijeet Pai

9Unicorns, the venture fund set up by startup incubator and accelerator Venture Catalysts, has appointed a new partner with a view to enhancing its startup sourcing efforts.

In a statement, the fund said it has appointed Abhijeet Pai, a member of the family behind the Hyderabad-based Puzzolana Group. The group has interests in engineering, fast-moving consumer goods, dairy and special-grade metals industries.

Per the statement, Pai has backed over 25 startups and three funds since 2014. “As a partner at 9Unicorns, I bring experience of growing, managing large businesses and turnarounds of businesses in stress at the most crucial times,” he said.

9Unicorns founder and managing partner Apoorva Ranjan Sharma said Pai joining the fund will help it in sourcing startups as well guiding investee companies to become leaders in their segments.

“This also marks Abhijeet’s transformation from being an industrialist to a strategic partner with a keen focus on early stage as an asset class,” Sharma added.

At the start of September, the 9Unicorns Accelerator Fund – which is Venture Catalysts’ maiden investment vehicle – hit its first close at Rs 100 crore (around $13.7 million).

9Unicorns is a sector-agnostic fund. At the time of its first close, it said its investment plan will involve initially offering up to $100,000 for a 5-7% stake in a startup. Following an acceleration process, certain startups will be eligible for a follow-on round supplied by a syndicate of Venture Catalysts’ investors and other venture capital funds.

It has added several companies to its portfolio since hitting the first close, including fitness platform Oga Fit, AI-based content marketing firm Instoried, celebrity engagement startup Gonuts, social gaming platform Tamasha, fertility care firm Janani, snacks-focussed consumer brand TagZ Foods, and financial-technology firm Klub.

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