Arihant Patni: I just had a breakfast session with a bunch of corporate venture folks. They’re all talking about how they want to evangelize startups, invest in them, work with them, and partner with them. I think that’s a terrific philosophy.
I can talk about a couple of slightly more evolved startups that we invested in coalition with other venture funds. One is called worxogo, which is in the AI space to enhance human capital productivity by sending sales agent-type nudges and motivational behavior tweaks.
They’re able to meet their targets. So they will go ahead and even assess what kind of motivational nudges work for certain individuals and then design a program for them so that they can go and achieve better what they need to achieve. This company is already doing quite well in India and selling to a lot of banks and consumer companies.
We did this in conjunction with Inventus Partners, which is a fund both here in the Valley as well as in India. Another one that I really like is an Accel-funded vernacular voice automation and analytics company that we came into recently.
They work with automotive companies and other television companies that allow vernacular voice commands to operate that particular piece of equipment. Both of these are with other leading funds where we thought we could come in because they need capital. We could come in and help them in other ways as well.
Sramana Mitra: I’m going to stretch a little bit and ask you to reflect on your deal flow. What trends are you observing in your deal flow? If you look back on the last 12 to 18 months of deal flow, how many deals do you see that fit your investment thesis? What are the nuggets that you’re seeing as maybe patterns or a recurring theme in that deal?
Arihant Patni: I’d say that in a given year, we would see at least 500 to 600 companies, if not more. A lot of them may be just consumer companies or in areas that we just don’t invest in. To be completely candid, I have that data, but I don’t want to just make up numbers.
We’ve trickled down the dataflow that comes into things that is actually contextual to us. Of course, we’ll do a first run based on the presentation that have maybe a first round of meetings with the founders, and then take it forward from there on. We’ve seen some good stuff coming through. This sourcing is always something that’s the need of the hour.
I’d be wrong to say that we’re totally satisfied. We should never be. I always think that we should be seeing more. We should be exposed to more views that we would write as a thesis. I’m happy that most of the folks I’ve seen getting funded within our domain have, at least, gone through us at some level.
I’m not seeing a lot of stuff that’s happening that we just don’t have access to. We end up talking to most founders that are within our thesis. We may or may not take that ahead, but at least we have a first spark at them.