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Stellaris may raise $10 million from SAP

Stellaris Venture Partners is in the market to raise at least $100 million for its first venture capital fund

Stellaris Venture Partners, an early-stage venture capital firm launched by former Helion Venture Partners executives Ritesh Banglani, Alok Goyal and Rahul Chowdhri, is in advanced talks to secure a $10 million commitment from global enterprise software giant SAP SE, two people aware of the development said.

Stellaris Venture Partners is in the market to raise at least $100 million for its first venture capital (VC) fund.

“They are in advanced talks with SAP for raising a $10 million commitment for their fund. As a strategy, they have been tapping large tech enterprises for their fund-raising, given that the partners have strong connections within the industry," said one of the two people cited above, requesting anonymity as the talks are private.

Before joining Helion Venture Partners and becoming a VC investor, Goyal was associated with the IT services industry, having served as the chief operating officer of SAP in India for almost three years, he said.

“He was at a senior leadership position at SAP and thus has strong connections in the IT services industry as a whole. They are now leveraging those relationships to raise commitments for their fund," he added.

Goyal was the COO of SAP India Pvt. Ltd from January 2010 to December 2012, according to his LinkedIn profile. Overall, he spent almost nine years at SAP.

Banglani, Chowdhri and Goyal severed ties with Helion in December. The three partners constituted the second line of command at the 10-year-old VC firm. While Goyal had spent around three years at Helion, Banglani and Chowdhri had spent over five and eight years, respectively, at the firm.

On 3 August, The Economic Times reported that Infosys Ltd has begun talks with Stellaris to invest in its fund. The software services company could invest up to $15 million in the fund, which is raising funds from both local and global investors, the paper reported.

Infosys will be investing from its $500 million Innovation Fund, set apart for early-stage investments, and it will be the second such deal by the company, the report said. In December 2015, it backed Silicon Valley-based early-stage venture capital firm Vertex Ventures.

“They are seeing good traction for their fund-raising efforts and have been able to grab the interest of large and marquee names such as Infosys and SAP. They have been able to do this at a time when the overall start-up ecosystem is going through a churn," said the second person cited above, also requesting anonymity.

Emails sent to SAP SE on Monday did not elicit any response. Infosys declined to comment. “We do not make any comments on our fund-raise," said Goyal.

Stellaris’s fund-raising comes at a time when overall investment sentiment in the Indian internet start-up ecosystem has become weaker.

According to data from Venture Intelligence, venture capital investments in the first six months of 2016 were down to $634 million from $958 million in the same period last year.

Despite the slowdown, the fund-raising environment remains positive due to favourable macro tailwinds, said experts.

“While globally, it may still be a while before we see the flush, India has garnered positive emotion greatly due to some of the exits over the last couple of years and the resultant return of capital. Overall, it’s a positive sentiment and should gather favourable traction going forward," said Vinayak Burman, founding partner at law firm Vertices Partners.

However, he added that investors will evaluate new fund managers on various parameters before committing to write out cheques.

“It culminates into various aspects including the pedigree of the managers, the focus area of the fund including the genre of industry as well as the past traction of the relevant people behind the fund. Both macro and micro elements play a very important role to build the necessary faith for backing the relevant fund, especially if it is new," he said.

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