Anirudh Damani, Managing Partner at Artha Venture Fund, tells YourStory Business Editor Vishal Krishna why he decided to back OYO's Ritesh Agarwal, talks about his favourite pitches and investments, and offers advice on how to build a business.Vishal Krishna
Anirudh Damani discovered Ritesh Agarwal of OYO Rooms five years ago at a time when nobody wanted to back the idea. A small undisclosed investment fetched the Damani family office a 150x return. “If I had stayed longer, we would have seen a 300x return,” he says.
Since 2017, the family office is a SEBI-registered fund and its corpus is fixed at Rs 200 crore. At present, Anirudh is focused on three themes.
1. Consumption: This will be a focus on brands and services consumers can relate to and aspire to use.
2. Consumption Enablers: This would be fintech and logistics, which enable consumption.
3. B2B: Technology that can reduce the cost of operations.
In a candid video interview with YourStory, Anirudh talks about his favourite pitches and investments. Speaking about startup Kabaddi Adda, he says:
“This startup has an interesting take on 'Bharat'. Unlike cricket, where all games (local and international) are tracked, kabaddi tournaments apart from the national league don't get tracked. This startup uses content and analytics to find players that need to be picked in the league,” he says.
In the video, Damani reveals how he met Ritesh Agarwal. Those of you curious about just this can skip to 3 min 45 sec of the video.
“Ritesh was very clear about what he needed to build the business. He did not worry about valuation or anything. That's what I liked about him - at such a young age, he was clear about his idea,” Anirudh says.
He also talks about how he convinced his father to invest in startups as an asset class. He throws in advice about how to build businesses and also talks about how he unwinds - through diving and reading.
NowFloats: The business started as a simple service to create micro websites for SMEs that weren’t online through something as simple as an SMS. Today, it services over 400,000 businesses in India and has raised follow-on rounds from IIFL and Blume Ventures.
Tala: This app approves micro-loans in under 30 seconds and has lent over $50 million in Kenya. It recently entered numerous other markets, and raised follow-on rounds from LowerCase, Aslanoba Capital, and Data Collective.
BabyChakra: A website for moms-to-be and mothers, BabyChakra already has more than 1 million moms visiting the website every month. It is creating a massive impact in an area that has typically been dominated by mother-to-daughter conversations.
OYO: The hospitality unicorn has done what many US brands could not: created a single hospitality brand for affordable stays in India.
Exotel: This business was created to help businesses get on to cloud telephony. Once that was achieved, it is now becoming a telecom platform that can revolutionise any size of business.
“The company needed just one round of funding to build a business worth millions of rupees,” Anirudh says.
ConfirmTkt: This startup is creating unique solutions to simplify train travel for Indians. It has grown 5x with a negligible spend on marketing, with the key to the next 30 million ecommerce consumers all other platforms are searching for. “This is one company to watch out for,” says the investor.
Watch the interview with Anirudh here: