VC funds bet on e-learning, digital media firms in October

VC funds bet on e-learning, digital media firms in October

Mumbai: Indian companies received more than $74 million (Rs290.8 crore) venture capital funding in October. Deals included investments in sectors ranging between e-learning, digital media and engineering solutions outsourcing.

The single largest deal was struck by online travel portal, which received $15 million in its third round of funding. The New Delhi-based portal, which plans to go for an initial public offering by 2009, received funding from the US-based hedge fund Tiger Fund, along with existing investors Helion Venture Partners, Sierra Ventures and SAIF Partners.

Online education and e-learning services emerged as the flavour of the season as venture capital firms struck three deals in this space in the last month—Mumbai-based Hurix Systems Pvt. Ltd received $5.1 million from Helion Venture Partners;, an online tutorials company started by serial entrepreneur K. Ganesh, received $2.5 million from Manipal Education Group; Mumbai-based e-learning services company 24x7 Learning Solutions Pvt. Ltd received $4 million from Capital18, the venture capital arm of media group Network18. All three companies have had earlier rounds of funding.

Digital media was another sector popular with venture capital firms—New Delhi-based Live Media and Bangalore-based Tag Media Network, which operate in-store television networks for advertising and marketing, received funding from Draper Fisher Jurvetson (DFJ) and Intel Capital, respectively. The month also saw investments in outsourcing services companies such as New Delhi-based RT Outsourcing Services Ltd by Motilal Oswal Venture Capital, Indo-US outfit Satellier Llc. by Sequoia Capital India and engineering and technology services company Neilsoft Ltd.

Consumer Internet and mobile services, among the most popular sectors for most venture capitalists in this market, saw few deals. These included early stage deals. Of these, Banyan Netfaqs Pvt. Ltd, which owns media portal, and mobile applications company NetXcell Ltd received early stage funding.

First round for most

A majority of the companies received series-A funding. These include RT Outsourcing, Tag Media Network and the Essel Group-backed Intrex India Ltd (which runs the ItzCash prepaid cash cards) from Matrix Partners India and Intel Capital. But October also saw some significant late-stage deals such as, Tutor Vista and Indo-US voice SMS company Kirusa Inc., which received $3 million in additional series C funding from Qualcomm Ventures, the venture capital arm of telecom giant Qualcomm Inc., Eastven (whose first fund was Ericsson Venture Partners) and Erasmic Venture Fund. Kirusa had initially raised $10 million in its third round of funding from Helion and Nexus India Capital.

Biggest deal maker

Among venture capital firms, Sequoia Capital was the biggest deal maker, investing a total of $16.25 million in two companies—printing retail chain Printo Document Services Pvt. Ltd, which was previously funded by Mumbai-based Seedfund, and Satellier. Others who struck multiple deals last month include Helion (Hurix Systems and, Intel Capital (Tag Media Network and ItzCash) and DFJ, which invested in Live Media and two other undisclosed companies. The firm opened its Bangalore office two months ago. The month also saw appointments in the venture capital circuit here—Bessemer Venture Partners, which earmarked $350 million out of its recently raised $1 billion fund for India, appointed Devesh Garg as managing director in India.

B-plan showcases

October also saw a flurry of activity in various business plan showcase events for start-ups. Siemens Venture Capital, the venture capital arm of electronics major Siemens AG, announced a B-plan showcase for the first time in any market, in an effort to find promising Indian start-ups in its area of interest. Eureka 2007, IIT Bombay’s B-plan contest, closed submissions in the first week of October, while TiE-ISB Connect 2007 shortlisted 30 start-ups for showcase.