Responding to a popular request, we are now sharing transcripts of our investor podcast interviews in this new series. The following interview with Milos Sochor was recorded in June 2018.
Biplab Adhya and Venu Pemmaraju are Co-Heads of Wipro Ventures.
Sramana Mitra: Tell us a bit about yourselves as well as Wipro Ventures. Let’s introduce our audience to the investment activities of Wipro Ventures.
Biplab Adhya: Along with Venu, I co-manage Wipro’s corporate investment arm. I have been with Wipro for about eight years now. Wipro Ventures got set up three years back. My background is primarily in the enterprise apps domain in different operating roles before I moved into the investment activities for Wipro Ventures.
Venu Pemmaraju: I joined Wipro Ventures in early 2015. Both of us co-manage Wipro Ventures. Prior to coming to Wipro Ventures, I spent about 15 years at Intel Capital as an investment manager investing in enterprise software and semiconductors. Incidentally, both Biplab and I went to IIT.
Sramana Mitra: Great. Let’s talk about Wipro Ventures. How big is the fund? What sized investments are you making and at what stage? Let’s get a little bit deep into the investment activities of Wipro Ventures.
Biplab Adhya: Wipro was set up as a $100 million fund when they started about three years back. We must indicate and clarify though that we invest from Wipro’s balance sheet. It’s an evergreen fund in that aspect. Our sweet spot is in Series B type of companies. If you draw a normal distribution, B is where most of the investments will lie though we do invest earlier and later as well. Check sizes can vary anywhere between $1 million and $10 million. Typical median check sizes have been in the $3 million to $5 million range.
Sramana Mitra: You typically follow in a round or do you lead as well?
Biplab Adhya: We lead if required. We have led rounds within the portfolio that we have. We have invested so far in 12 companies and in three VC funds. We lead if required, but more often, we are a participant in the syndicate.
Sramana Mitra: How much of the investment due diligence do you put into determining whether the company that you invest in could leverage Wipro’s go-to market channel?
Venu Pemmaraju: This is a more important part of our investment strategy as well. One of the things that we look for as part of a Series B investment is that there is limited technology risk. What that means is that the product has been in production and deployed to a few larger enterprises.
Given that Wipro goes to market and services large Global 2000 players, our goal is to invest in companies that have solutions built for that segment. What we’re looking for is that initial product/market fit that has been exhibited by these companies. Then it makes it more relevant for us. Given that we are an enterprise software company and, for us, go-to market is the most important part, some proof points in the enterprise segment are necessary for us to consider whether this is an investment candidate or not.