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pi Ventures adds $25 M more to AI focused fund; to invest in 20 startups

Harshith Mallya
15th Jan 2018
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Pi Ventures, India’s first Applied Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Internet of Things-focused early stage venture fund, announced on Monday that it had closed $25 million (around Rs 160 crore) in funding, its second close.

In March 2017, Pi Ventures had announced its first close of $13 million. The fund now expects to announce the final close soon.

Story so far

Co-founded by Manish Singhal and Umakant Soni, pi Ventures invests in early-stage startups that focus on solving problems in healthcare, logistics, retail, fintech, and enterprise sectors using applied AI, ML and IoT. The Bengaluru-based VC plans to invest in 18-20 startups from this fund over a three-to-four year time frame.

L to R- Umakant Soni and Manish Singhal

Related read- How pi Ventures is looking to invest in an AI-first world

Pi Ventures has made four investments so far, in the healthcare and energy-efficiency space. These are:

  1. Sigtuple is in the medical diagnostic space, and is creating a deep learning-driven, cloud-based solution for detection of abnormalities and trends in medical data for blood diagnosis.
  2. NIRAMAI Health Analytix is a health-tech startup that is building a non-invasive, non-touch, non-radiation approach to detect breast cancer much earlier than traditional methods, or self-examination.
  3. Ten3T builds wearable medical devices that collect and integrate medical-grade data in real time like an ECG through its own smart patches to enable mobile ICU for smaller hospitals.
  4. Zenatix is a data-driven energy efficiency company that uses advanced machine learning-based models, and claims to deliver up to 30 percent energy efficiency to large commercial users of electricity along with predictive insights to prevent downtime.

Both Founding Partners Manish and Umakant come with prior experience in setting up, building and scaling companies. Manish has been the Co-founder and CEO at LetsVenture, and a prominent angel investor in the past. He has rich product experience, having worked with Sling Media, Ittiam Systems, Motorola and with writing a part of MPEG 4 standards, the dominant video standard even today.

Umakant was Director India, Science Inc, and Co-founder of one of the first AI BOT companies out of India, called Vimagino. Abishek Surendran is the third partner in the fund. He carries multiple years of experience in venture investing in India. The team is supported by Shamik Sharma, ex-Chief Product and Technology Officer, Myntra, who works as a venture partner in the fund.

For a more in-depth understanding of Manish's background and pi Ventures' origins, listen to this podcast: Shradha Sharma with Manish Singhal, ‎founding partner, pi Ventures, India's first AI fund.

pi Ventures holds #chAI (AI over a cup of chai) sessions to bring together and encourage the ecosystem. An open-for-all session, it has been attended by researchers from universities, startups, large companies, and students. Startup founders share how they used AI to solve problems. Pi Ventures notes that these sessions are beneficial because they lead to the cross-pollination of ideas among founders, and it also eduates the audience about best practices in building AI companies.

The key backers

Manish, Founding Partner, pi Ventures, noted he was excited to back path-breaking companies in the Artificial Intelligence space making a substantial difference in various sectors like Healthcare, Logistics, Energy, etc. He said:

We are thankful to our backers and privileged to be able to support innovation that will make a tangible difference not only to businesses and the economy but more importantly, to the lives of people.

Key contributors in the current round include Chairman of Hero Enterprise Sunil Kant Munjal, Electronic Development Fund (managed by Canbank Ventures), leading electronics company Hero Electronixs, and HNIs and entrepreneurs.

Earlier Limited Partners, which had invested in pi Ventures' first tranche, has India’s top lender to small businesses, SIDBI, In Colour Capital from Canada, prominent family offices from the US, Canada, Singapore and India, and leading entrepreneurs like Mohandas Pai, Binny Bansal, Deep Kalra, Sanjeev Bikchandani and Bhupen Shah among others as its key investors.

In a short period of time, Sunil Kant Munjal-promoted Hero Enterprise has made key investments in high-growth e-commerce enterprises, lighting solution firms, as well as hospitality and fine dining ventures. It is also supporting startups that focus on digital learning, community transportation, healthcare, women empowerment and children’s education. Hero Enterprise has also funded impact investment projects that have taken an entrepreneurship-based approach to socio-economic challenges. Talking about the Indian startup ecosystem, Sunil Kant Munjal said in a statement,

It is heartening to see many free-spirited Indians who are not just trying to make a mark in Applied AI and machine learning but also seeking new frontiers. Supporting them through pi Ventures is an interesting and exciting opportunity. After all, the future of technology doesn’t just belong to mega corporations; it belongs equally to smart and visionary people working in small companies and startups.

Website- pi Ventures

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