Dr Apoorva Ranjan Sharma, co-founder and President, Venture Catalysts.
Dr Apoorva Ranjan Sharma, co-founder and President, Venture Catalysts.

Venture Catalysts invests 500 crore in 63 deals this year, looks at bets in AI

  • Venture Catalysts has closed 171 deals so far with portfolio investments reaching $1.7 billion in valuation
  • Companies backed by Venture Catalysts, include digital payments company BharatPe, Nupay, Home Capital, Blowhorn, Coutloot, Jumpstart, LiquiLoans and OTO Capital

BENGALURU : Startup incubator Venture Catalysts has invested 500 crore across 63 deals, including in 54 new startups, in 2019, the Mumbai-based firm said on Monday.

Its co-founder and president, Apoorva Ranjan Sharma, said over the phone that out of the 63 deals, Venture Catalysts backed 54 new startups and nine were follow-on rounds across multiple stages (Series A, B, C) in its portfolio companies.

“In 2019, we did a good number of deals in fintech, supply chain/logistics, deep-tech and FMCG (fast-moving consumer goods). We experimented with a few new sectors as well," he added.

He added that Venture Catalysts had achieved 30 successful exits in four years. The firm typically invests $250,000 to $1.5 million in early-stage startups and has a network of over 5,000 angels across Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities. It has closed 171 deals so far with portfolio investments reaching $1.7 billion in valuation, the company said in a statement. The firm expects the combined valuation of its portfolio companies to double in 2020.

Companies backed by Venture Catalysts, include digital payments company BharatPe, Nupay, Home Capital, Blowhorn, Coutloot, Jumpstart, LiquiLoans and OTO Capital.

In the last three years, more than 14,000 startups across 27 cities have reached out to Venture Catalysts for mentorship and training. Apart from high net-worth individuals (HNIs) from small towns in India, companies such as Google Inc. and Axis Capital have co-invested in its portfolio companies, the statement added.

In 2020, Sharma expects startups in cleantech, agritech, media and entertainment, logistics and supply chain management to perform well. Companies in e-commerce, fashion, real estate, hospitality and deep-tech will hire actively in 2020, he added.

Sharma said investor interest in companies in logistics, supply chain, real estate and agriculture will continue next year. “Artificial intelligence (AI) is now becoming diversified. Earlier, only generic AI companies were coming to us, but now we are getting (companies that work on) applications of AI in fintech and other sectors," he said.

According to the India Tech Annual Factsheet - 2019 by research firm Tracxn, Venture Catalysts was the most active incubator/accelerator in India in 2019, followed by Y Combinator (Razorpay, Khatabook, Drip Capital), Surge (UrbanPiper, Niramai, Vyapar), Axilor Ventures (Hevo, Log9materials, Doubtnut) and Techstars (Ambee, LeucineTech, Unifize).

Incubators and accelerators provide mentorship and technical support to startups, and guide entrepreneurs on how to raise funds and acquire customers. According to the National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM), incubators and accelerators in India can be broadly classified as corporate, independent, academic, and government-supported.

NASSCOM's recent Indian Tech Start-up Ecosystem 2019 report revealed that the total number of incubators and accelerators in India increased from over 320 in 2018 to over 335 in 2019.

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