Indian Entrepreneurs Who Turned into Full Time Investors

17th Aug 2012
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Many believe that you can be an investor only if you've been an entrepreneur before. Arguable, but it turns out to be true in many cases. The most notable investors in the field have been successful entrepreneurs before and are perhaps better judges of the fate of a startup. They've been there, done that. Here, we look at some of the entrepreneurs who're now fulltime investors (alphabetical order).

Alok Mittal, Canaan India

Alok Mittal joined Canaan India in March 2006. He focuses on investments in digital media and mobile companies, as well as innovators in managed software services and other IT enabled businesses.

He earned a BE in computer science and engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi and a MS in computer science from UC Berkeley.

Alok co-founded, a leading web-based recruitment business. JobsAhead was later on acquired by, the global leader in online recruitment.

During the course of his association with Canaan India, he has advised Canaan Partners in their investment in Bharat Matrimony, Equitas, iYogi, Cellcast, UnitedLex and MotorExchange.

T: @alokmittal001

Arvin Babu

Arvin Babu joined Greylock in 2007 as Partner. He is focused on early stage company investments in India.

Arvin holds an MS in Industrial Engineering from Clemson University and a BS in Mechanical Engineering from India.

Prior to joining Greylock, Arvin co-founded two Greylock backed companies: Perfigo and Brience. Perfigo was the leader in network admission control (NAC) and was acquired by Cisco in 2004. Post-acquisition, Arvin was at Cisco for over two years and led Cisco's NAC appliance business unit to #1 market share. Brience, where Arvin worked in the capacity of CTO, was a leading mobile software developer. Prior to Brience, Arvin was CEO at Webvibe, a developer of application middleware. Webvibe was acquired by KPMG Consulting in 1999.


Ashish Gupta

Co-founder of Helion Venture Partners, Ashish has previously co-founded two successful companies - Tavant Technologies and Junglee (AMZN).

His investments include Daksh (IBM), Odesk, Obongo (AOL), Speedera (Akamai), MakeMyTrip , Merittrac (Manipal Group), and Kaboodle (Hearst).

Ashish is a Kauffman Fellow, holds a Ph.D. in Computer Science from Stanford University, and a Bachelor's degree from Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur where he was awarded the President's Gold medal. He has authored several patents, publications, and a book by MIT press.


Avnish Bajaj

Avnish Bajaj is the MD at Matrix Partners

Avnish is an alumnus of IIT-Kanpur and University of Wisconsin, Madison, from where he completed his graduation and post-graduation in Computer Science. He is an MBA from HBS.

After graduating from Harvard, Avnish joined Goldman Sachs in their investment banking team during the dot com bubble days where he was exposed to a number of compelling business ideas in the internet domain. This exposure lead him to form Baazee.

Today Avnish is guiding Matrix Partners to invest in companies run by brilliant entrepreneurs who have a deep insight on the Indian market.

T: @avnish

Kanwal Rekhi

MD, Inventus Capital

He co-founded Excelan in Silicon Valley to commercialize ethernet and TCP/IP - standards which became the basis of the Internet. He took Excelan public in 1987, becoming the first Indo-American Founder & CEO to list a venture-backed company on the NASDAQ. Excelan later merged with Novell, where Kanwal served as EVP, CTO and a Board Director for five years, established Novell's operations in India, grew the company into the second largest software vendor in the world and returned 100X to his venture investors.

Kanwal earned a BSEE from IIT-Bombay and a MSEE and Honorary Doctorates in both Business and Engineering from Michigan Tech.

Pravin Gandhi

Pravin co-founded Hinditron Computers in 1972, India’s first IT company, which subsequently merged with Digital Equipment Corporation in 1988. And with over 35 years of operational and entrepreneurial experience in the IT industry in India, and is a founding partner at Seedfund. With over 10 years of investing experience, he is extensively networked in the Indian investment and entrepreneurial scene and is an active private equity investor in the technology sector.

Pravin holds a BS in Industrial Engineering from Cornell University, and serves on the board of several public and private corporations in India. Pravin is a former President of the Manufacturers Association of Information Technology (an IT manufacturers association in India) and was formerly a member of the NASSCOM Executive Council.


Sandeep Singhal

Co-founder of Nexus Venture Partners, Sandeep has been an entrepreneur and a pioneer of Venture Capital in India.

He first co-founded Medusind Solutions, one of the leading healthcare outsourcing companies in India. Sandeep was also the co-founder of eVentures India, a leading venture firm focused on early stage ventures in India. He made successful exits from several of his earlier firms. Some of those include CustomerAsset (acquired by Firstsource), Mentorix Solutions (acquired by Lionbridge), Intigma (acquired by Emptoris), and MakeMyTrip (sale to SAIF Partners).

Sandeep has an MBA from The Wharton School with a dual Major in Finance and Marketing, and a BS in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University.

T: @aaasandeep

Shailendra Singh 

Shailendra is a Managing Director with Sequoia Capital India.

Shailendra received an MBA with Distinction from Harvard Business School and a B.Tech in Chemical Engineering from IIT Mumbai.

Also a Kauffman Fellow, he had founded Jalva Media Ltd in January 2000. Jalva Media was a venture-backed offshore outsourcing company, that became a well respected entity and gave Shailendra some very good insights into the industry.


Subrata Mitra

Joining Accel India in 2008, Subrata focuses on technology and Internet investing. Subrata served on the boards of Small-device (now a part of Digital Chocolate) and Mu Sigma, and he is currently on the boards of Perfint, Flipkart, Myntra, and enStage.

Prior to Accel, Subrata was a Partner at Erasmic Venture Fund. Subrata has also served as MD, India, for Tavant Technologies, Inc., a U.S.-based mortgage solutions company, which was acquired by privately held Ameriquest Mortgage Capital in 2004 (Ameriquest has since merged into CitiCapital). Previously, Subrata was the Founder of Firewhite, Inc., which was acquired by Ubiquio, Inc., and later merged into Mobile Planet.

Subrata started his career at IBM's prestigious T.J. Watson and Santa Teresa Labs, working in the Software R&D groups.

Suvir Sujan 

Suvir Sujan is co-founder of Nexus Venture Partners. Suvir has been an entrepreneur and has driven the wagon of consumer internet in India.

Suvir has an MBA from the Harvard Business School and a BS in Electrical Engineering from the University of Maryland.

Suvir co-founded, the leading online marketplace in India that merged with eBay in 2004 to form eBay India. Post the merger, Suvir worked in the capacity of Country Manager, eBay India and Regional Director, Asia Pacific, PayPal.

He is a charter member of the Internet and Mobile Association of India and a mentor to several entrepreneurs in the consumer services sector in India. He has also served on the board of the Global India Venture Capital Association.

T: @suvirsujan

Vani Kola

Managing Director of IndoUS Venture Partners (IUVP).

She was founder and CEO of Certus Software, a leader in the Financial Compliance Market with over 70 customers worldwide. Prior to establishing Certus, Vani was the founder and chief executive officer of RightWorks, a successful e-procurement company that was acquired by ICG and subsequently by i2.

Vani is a serial entrepreneur and is known for identifying emerging markets and building successful market-driven software companies.



[Editor's note: The title of the post was changed after addition of other noteworthy names]

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