Mumbai-based Nexus India Capital, founded by three former entrepreneurs— Naren Gupta, Sandeep Singhal and Suvir Sujan—has raised a $100 million (Rs404 crore) corpus for funding early-stage Indian companies. The fund, which the partners started raising last year, has already invested in five companies. It focuses on companies in the areas of domestic consumer services, outsourced services and global technology.
Nexus’ investments so far include mobile value-added services company Mobile2win (in which it invested along with Norwest Venture Partners in November 2006), Web collaboration start-up DimDim and three other companies whose names it is not willing to disclose. The fund will invest between $500,000 and $10 million in a company, with an average deal size of $4 million. Over the next three years, it plans to invest in 15 companies (in addition to the five deals done) in India.
The fund says it will differentiate itself in the market on the strength of its team, which comprises people with an interesting mix of backgrounds. Gupta has been investing in companies in India and the US for 11 years. Along with Kanwal Rekhi, he is a founding member of The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE). He founded the embedded software company Integrated Systems in the US in 1980 and was a limited partner and adviser at Draper Fisher Jurvetson, which was an active venture fund in India during the last round.
“The start-up environment has changed significantly since then. People did not even understand VC investing. Today, entrepreneurs are better educated,” says Gupta.
Singhal was one of the founding partners at eVentures India, the Rupert Murdoch-promoted venture capital investor, and subsequently co-founded health-care services firm Medusind Solutions. eVentures had invested in companies such as Contest2win, Customer Asset (now Firstsource) and MakeMyTrip.com (founder Deep Kalra ran MakeMyTrip.com out of the eVentures office for a few weeks).
Sujan was co-founder of e-commerce firm Baazee.com, which was acquired by eBay in 2004. He quit as regional director (Asia Pacific), PayPal, to start Nexus. Sujan has also been an active angel investor and has funded companies such as Indian search engine Guruji.com and legal outsourcing firm Pangea3.
“We have experience in the operations side as well as with financing, so we can help start-ups in many ways, be it in recruiting the management team or providing access to clients in the space,” says Singhal.