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Aditya Birla Group (ABG), one of India’s largest business conglomerates with revenues of over $46 billion, recently launched its venture capital arm, Aditya Birla Ventures, which will invest in early-stage startups. In an interview, Aryaman Birla, founder, Aditya Birla Ventures, discussed the fund’s strategy as it prepares to take on global rivals in India’s competitive startup investing space. Edited excerpts:

How will Aditya Birla Ventures position itself?

We’re not too fixed on the ticket size; the quality of the deal is more important. We want to invest in deals that we are confident about in terms of business model, market size, industry and people. So, we are not focused on ticket size. It will depend on the nature of the transaction and vary from deal to deal. In terms of funding rounds, we are open and would participate in rounds right from seed to Series B stage. Follow-up investments will be an integral part of our strategy, especially where we have entered at the seed and Pre-Series A/Series A stages.

Will you be looking at synergies with the larger Aditya Birla Group when making investment decisions?

These are pure financial investments where we’re going to have minority stakes. So we are not going to actively look for opportunities that are necessarily synergistic in nature. But of course, the idea is that in whichever company we can add immense value, we might prefer that. We want to be one of the first backers of outstanding entrepreneurs, and I am personally very excited about this journey. We’ve only just set up this fund, and even in this short period, I have learnt so much by interacting with a wide range of founders and entrepreneurs—their vision, ideas, goals and ambitions. It is truly energizing.

How much money would you be looking to deploy? Are there plans to raise third party funds?

It’s too early to talk about that, but, as I said, the quality of the deal is very important. We haven’t capped the corpus of our fund, but we will, of course, be selective in our approach. The startup ecosystem has grown leaps and bounds both qualitatively and quantitatively, and the best is yet to come. At the end of 2021, India had 72 unicorns and had attracted VC investment of over $87 billion in the past decade. China has about 230-plus unicorns, and the US has about 480-plus. So that means there is a huge opportunity in India. This is only the tip of the iceberg, and we’re all very excited about this opportunity.

Do you have any sectors you would be focusing more on to start with?

We are sector-agnostic in our approach. We don’t want to limit ourselves to specific sectors. However, we will have a special focus on consumer tech, fintech, edtech, health tech, enterprise applications/SaaS; and consumer products (brands). We are open to any high-quality opportunity that comes our way. We want to invest in robust business models and in sectors where the market opportunity is large. Most importantly, we are looking for exceptional founders because we really believe that we would like to invest in founders and their entrepreneurial energy. Our group’s philosophy has always been about people that we interact with or have relationships with, and that will be the most important consideration for us.

What will the group bring to the table for companies that you will invest in?

There is an immense intrinsic value for a startup to be associated with a group like ABG. By associating with the Aditya Birla Group, we will be able to open the ‘capabilities’ of one of the strongest ecosystems for growth. There is no similar example in India. Associating with us will also bring strong credibility to the founding team and business. One of the reasons we want to come in early is that we can add maximum value by giving them access to mentorship from senior leaders in the group. Conversations with senior leaders can give a very different perspective. The group’s ecosystem will be available to portfolio companies for growth. They will be able to reach out to group businesses for potential business opportunities/partnerships and also to their suppliers and customers. They will be able to leverage our industry relationships.

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