Ventureast is one of the active early-stage investors in the country. It is currently investing out of Ventureast Life Fund III, which has a corpus of $200 million and focuses on healthcare, food and sustainable and cleantech sectors. It typically seeks to invest between $5 million and $15 million in its portfolio companies. Ventureast is raising its new India-focused fund. VCCircle caught up with Sarath Naru, founder and managing partner at Ventureast, to get a quick take on the new fund and its investment plan. Edited excerpts:
Ventureast is raising $150-200 million for the new VC fund. Have you zeroed in on some investors?
We will do our first closing with our existing investors and we will announce it within this quarter.
How many investments are you eyeing in 2015?
In the current calendar year, we would make at least six investments.
Your current fund has a tilt towards healthcare, cleantech, etc. What will be your focus area for investments in the new fund?
We invest in early-stage companies. A lot of our companies are pre-revenues and are never post-profit. In the Indian market, we are looking at the intersection of consumer space and technology. We are also looking at applications and businesses that will drive semi-urban and rural sector. Our (portfolio’s) path to profitability will be much more rapid than what we have seen so far and we plan to back the companies where there aren’t any large overseas players that come and jump in.
We have not backed companies which are raising Series B funding and have a billion dollar valuation. Our strategy has been not to back B2C companies directly but B2B2C companies at one level and businesses which will make money out of providing services to the internet consumers.
How about deepening presence in renewable energy?
We have thought of investing in the solar power generation space. However, there is much more money in the services around it.
In the Union Budget, the government has not made enough policy initiatives or incentives for the renewable energy space. The demand and supply gap for energy in India is so huge. If you are growing at 7 per cent, your energy generation has to grow at 15 per cent. Renewable energy being the fastest way of generating energy, the belief is that something will happen to kick-start and boost this industry.
Any thoughts on the health-tech domain?
In bad times, healthcare companies don’t collapse like those in other sectors. Digital health is booming and has become highly accepted amongst the healthcare community in the last couple of years. We see a lot of exciting things happening like remote healthcare diagnostics and monitoring, the launch of iWatch, etc. The data being generated by these can be converted into advice and healthcare tips for the users. These developments benefit not only consumers but also the hospitals and tertiary care.
(Edited by Joby Puthuparampil Johnson)