White Unicorn raises $20 million fund to invest in European start-ups
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New Delhi: White Unicorn Ventures, a Mumbai-based seed-stage investor, has closed its $20-million maiden fund and is looking to deploy a part of the capital in European start-ups.
In a telephone interview, Rohit Chokhani, principal founder at White Unicorn said his family business Lakshachandi Realty, along with another family-run group engaged in petrochemicals, have jointly invested $10 million in the fund. The rest was raised from a Singapore-based sovereign wealth fund. He did not name the investors.
Lakshachandi Realty is a diversified real-estate group. Chokhani serves as a director on its board.
“We (Lakshachandi Group) have historically been limited partners (LPs) in other funds, but realized that these funds were not giving us good returns—15% on an annualized basis in best cases—so I decided to launch a fund on my own,” Chokhani said.
White Unicorn began operations in May 2016 and has already invested a little less than $5 million across 16 start-ups from the fund. Its investments typically fall in the range of Rs50 lakh to Rs3 crore, Chokhani said.
It has backed self-drive car rental platform JustRide, property assets management solution Azuro.in, edu-tech start-up GoodEd Technologies, dating app Aisle and wedding planner ShaadiSaga.com, among others.
It is now looking to deploy at least $5 million in early-stage firms in Europe, engaged in financial technologies, cyber-security and block-chain. “In Europe, we are looking at pure financial banking disruptions, which can be extrapolated into India,” Chokhani said.
White Unicorn is close to sealing two investments, Chokhani said. The first is an Ireland-based blockchain start-up working on smart contracts, and the other is a cyber security solutions vendor in Silicon Valley. White Unicorn is infusing Rs70 lakh-Rs1 crore in each.
Chokhani explained that in most European countries, deals for seed-stage funding are struck for roughly Rs3-6 crore for a 10-25% stake, comparable to how it is in India. Moreover, the valuations quoted by entrepreneurs are seen to be rational compared to start-ups in India who may be working on similar products, he said.
White Unicorn will open an office in London this month.
In India, White Unicorn is engaged with start-ups in real estate technology, Internet of things, robotics and automation, fin-tech, transportation and education sectors and plans to back 10-12 start-ups in the current financial year.
Last year, Blume Ventures and Kae Capital, two seed funds also based in Mumbai, announced their fund close. Blume Ventures raised $60 million for its second fund from the government’s India Aspiration Fund and IIFL Wealth Management Ltd, besides local family offices and high-net worth individuals, while Kae Capital raised $30 million.