Sramana Mitra: It sounds like you’re looking at the enterprise software opportunity that’s born in India, but with a global market. Is that an accurate observation?
Arihant Patni: Absolutely.
Sramana Mitra: So let’s talk a little bit about these 10 investments that you made. Give us a few examples and help us understand your thought process. At what point did these companies come to you? What did you see in each of them that caused you to really make the bet? Just walk us through a few case studies that gives us an insight into the way you think about investments.
Arihant Patni: A very strong aspect we look for is the team, the entrepreneur, and the co-founders of the business. I think not just in India, but anywhere in the world and especially for early stage, that makes a dramatic difference on the business outcome.
Our main agenda isn’t just to look at the area where the startup operates, but also who’s really running the startup – if they’re qualified from a technical angle or a domain angle to take it forward. Then, of course, we provide a lot of assistance in the areas in which the founders are weak to get to the next level. So let me talk through a few examples.
One of our early investments was a company called Whodat. A couple of young entrepreneurs based in Bangalore were building a markerless augmented reality (AR) platform and had great validation even from peers in the West. In fact, one of the founders spent a lot of time in the Bay Area and was evangelizing his product with some of the market leaders over here. That was a very interesting play for us trying to look at new age product innovation and new technologies.
This was a good fit since it was still an untested territory out of India. To be honest, AR is still evolving worldwide. There are a lot of questions still to be answered about business models and monetization and so on and so forth. Our interest really was to give a leg up to this team, to help them build their product further, and to really get out there. That’s been an incredible journey.
Sramana Mitra: What was the application? How does it correlate with your enterprise thesis?
Arihant Patni: They used to work with real estate companies and retail companies place products within a closed space with the correct dimensions and related aspects. Again, they were earlier at the accelerator in Bangalore and had a lot of use cases coming out in terms of advertising for retail or indoor mapping.
It was the technology and the team that we liked. We realized that this technology still needed to find the right use cases and the right business model. It was something that we chose to help them with.