The startup revolution in the country has attracted several non-resident entrepreneurs and investors to participate in the fledgling startup ecosystem. Like many, Dheeraj Jain was observing the entrepreneurial goings-on in India from London. “I kept a hawk eye on Indian startups for over a year and ultimately decided to come to India in late 2013,” says Dheeraj. In January 2014, he relocated to Gurgaon to invest in innovating startups.
Prior to coming to India, Dheeraj used to be a part of investment firm Redcliff Capital in London. The firm helps Indian companies to go outside India and acquire business and assets under leverage buyout structure, something that not many investors have tried before.
Dheeraj began investing in startups in the first half of last year and has, so far, put his bets on 16 startups. “These are combinations of aggregated space branded PGs to hotel experience to work-space aggregation, ed tech and ad tech, amongst others,” says Dheeraj. Besides tech-centric ventures, he has also invested in non-tech businesses such as burger chain Burger Singh.
Unlike early-stage investors who put capital in a completely-proven concept, Dheeraj doesn’t write a cheque only when companies are ready to go to Series B. “I usually invest in companies at early stage across various sectors but meaningful deals at Series A or Pre Series A levels also entice me,” he adds.
Some of Dheeraj’s key investments include digital advertising platform Simpli5d Technologies, carpooling app Just Ride, Deyor Rooms, Coho, Mappr, Dogspot, Burger Singh, Tablehero, Oprahi Wines and QDesk amongst others.
While some investors prefer to invest in an idea, Dheeraj diligently considers the past background of entrepreneurs before investing in them. He points out,
While everybody says that people in their mid or early twenties are the best entrepreneurs to invest on, my theory is different. I think guys who have worked in the sector who have been good consultants, maybe even bankers, people with a lots of experience is what I like to see in the lead person in the team in which I invest.
On the sectors that are on his radar for investment, Dheeraj says,
It would be around the SaaS and B2B businesses. So SaaS with B2B is something I am very excited to pick up in my next round of investments. I am also looking at bit more heavy-duty technology-driven artificial intelligence, virtual reality, cloud, security.
While the first half of 2015 had witnessed easy access of funding in a few sectors, post second half of 2015, there have been talks in the startup ecosystem of an impending bubble burst. However, Dheeraj calls it a global phenomenon. “We have seen what is happening back in the Valley, in Berlin, London and everywhere. I think there is a clear hype and there is nothing wrong in hype or bubble,” he adds. However, he advises entrepreneurs and investors to insulate themselves from the outcomes when bubble gets burst.
With 16 investments so far, Dheeraj is confident to place his bets in 10 more companies this year. “I am not in a rush to chase that number,but I am really excited to see good companies coming out,” he concludes.
Camera Person: Manoj Upadhyaya
Video Credits: Anand
Production Assistant: Vincent Arthur