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In first solo India move, Draper Fisher to fund education co

In first solo India move, Draper Fisher to fund education co
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First Published: Thu, Aug 14 2008. 10 20 PM IST
Updated: Thu, Aug 14 2008. 10 20 PM IST
Mumbai: Venture capital firm Draper Fisher Jurvetson, or DFJ, has invested an undisclosed amount in online education company Catura Systems Inc., its first solo investment since it set up an office in India in September.
DFJ associate Prasanna Krishnan and India executive director Mohanjit Jolly have joined the board of Catura, an Indo-US cross-border firm, based both in Santa Clara, California, and Gurgaon, on New Delhi’s outskirts.
DFJ India has been investing aggressively, closing 11 deals in as many months and exhausting more than half the $100 million (about Rs428 crore) India allocation—out of a global $650 million fund—that it intended to invest over three years. This includes three undisclosed deals in online publishing, e-waste management and semiconductor services. Of its disclosed investments, the firm has co-invested with other venture firms in all its deals except Catura.
Such investments, also known as syndicated deals, have been more common in the current round of venture investing. According to venture capital firms, it is a way of mitigating risk and gaining a foothold in new markets.
Nexus India Capital, Helion Venture Partners and Matrix Partners India have already done several syndicated deals. But as new entrants such as DFJ grow familiar with the Indian market, experts are predicting more solo deals.
Despite rapid fund deployment, DFJ says the allocation is flexible and there is no concern about shortage of funds. “In fact, the allocation of dollars for India from DFJ’s next fund will be higher,” said Jolly.
The constraint, he added, will be more on management bandwidth than capital as the firm notches up more deals. The India office, managed by Jolly and venture partner Sateesh Andra, will take on board Sachin Maheshwari, previously a senior associate at US venture firm Opus Capital, by the end of the month.
It will also do fewer early-stage deals in the $2 million range, and include larger deals in its areas of interest.
“We are fine investing 40-50% in capital-intensive clean-technology companies,” Jolly said. Catura Systems is working on a technology to deliver a “better than classroom experience that works on low bandwidth”, said Narender Oruganti, Catura’s co-founder and executive vice-president, marketing and strategy. Oruganti and co-founder Dinesh Mehta have been working on the product for the past three years and plan to launch it in October.
Mehta previously founded satellite broadcasting software start-up SunUp Digital Systems Inc., while Oruganti has worked in the marketing division of technology companies such as Hewlett Packard Co., Network Appliance Inc. and Veritas Software Corp. (now merged with Symantec Corp).
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First Published: Thu, Aug 14 2008. 10 20 PM IST