Unitus Ventures, a Bengaluru- and Seattle-based venture fund that supports early-stage tech startups, will invest in six or seven companies in jobtech, fintech, and healthcare this year, said its partner Srikrishna Ramamoorthy.
“We started investing from the second fund in 2018. We have made 13 investments from this fund, we will probably add another six or seven this year," he said.
The venture firm, backed by Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates’ Family Office and Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, is at present investing from its second fund of ₹300 crore.
“We sense that a lot of them (companies they back in 2020) will be in the jobtech and fintech space...we also have a strong interest in the healthcare space," Ramamoorthy said.
The firm has till now backed startups in education and edtech, fintech, healthcare, and jobtech. These include Cuemath, which offers math learning programs, Blowhorn, a marketplace for last-mile logistics, BetterPlace, which enables blue-collar workers in India access jobs, skills and training, and Awign, a tech platform for businesses to execute tasks packaged as virtual paid internships for college students.
Unitus Ventures typically invests $500,000-$1 million ( ₹3-7 crore) initially in a company. “We stay invested over two or three rounds after that," Ramamoorthy said. Their first fund, in 2013, was a ₹140 crore fund. “We have four exits from the first fund. Four companies in the second fund have already raised follow on rounds," he said.
Unitus is “most excited at the moment about job tech", said its co-founder and managing partner Will Poole.
“If you look at the challenges that India faces, it really is in employing a highly skilled young workforce who don’t have access to the jobs they want or they don’t have the right skills-fit or the geographical fit to align with the demand. We are interested in companies that improve the supply on the job side and also those that connect supply with demand," Poole said. Awign recently raised a Series A round. “Awign has got half a million students and recent graduates who are doing these gig activities on behalf of national organisations that require capable people. They can do audits or address verification, onboarding merchants, and such tasks, at scale, across the country," he said.
One of Awign’s biggest customers, Poole said, is BetterPlace which provides end-to-end services for some of the largest employers in India. BetterPlace’s clients include Accenture, JLL, OLA, Flipkart, SiS, Quikr, Swiggy, and Zomato. “The synergy between the portfolio companies is quite strong. We have another company, Utter, that offers functional English training to help people get their first job or a better job," he said. Utter is a chatbot-based learning platform that provides services to clients of BetterPlace to help blue-collar workers become better skilled and more capable.