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Ventureast & Asian Healthcare Fund invest $6.5M in optical store chain Ben Franklin

Private investment firms Ventureast and Asian Healthcare Fund have jointly invested Rs 40 crore ($6.5 million) in Hyderabad-based Eye Gear Optics India Pvt Ltd, that runs a chain of optical retail stores under the brand name Ben Franklin across the country.

Both the investors put in around Rs 20 crore each and separately confirmed the development.

VCCircle had first reported in August that Asian Healthcare Fund is close to investing in a South-based ophthalmology chain.

Sarath Naru, founder and managing partner at Ventureast, said, “We led the investment with Rs 20 crore from our side into Eye Gear Optics.”

The funding news was first reported by The Economic Times earlier during the day which said that the firm has over 180 stores in 13 states and will use the money to expand operations, hire people and also explore online retailing.

Eye Gear Optics was founded in 2008 by Raj Pyla, an engineer by education. It partners ophthalmologists by being co-located in their eye hospitals and clinics.

Asian Healthcare Fund has previously backed four other firms including Mumbai-based dental chain Mydentist; primary healthcare clinic chain Healthspring, Bangalore-based medical device company Forus and Diwan Chand Medical Services.

With this deal, it has now deployed around 85 per cent of its maiden fund which had raised Rs 200 crore in 2013. It may seal one more deal from this corpus to exhaust the dry powder. It is also raising $150 million in its second fund.

Ventureast is an active VC firm in the country focusing on the technology domain and has backed several firms in the healthcare and health-tech space. Last year it invested in OneBreath, a medical device startup in the portable and rechargeable ventilator space and online medical advice startup MediAngels. In the past it has also backed ventures like Portea among several others.

(Edited by Joby Puthuparampil Johnson)

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