Sramana Mitra: As you probably know, my background is in computer architecture. I was in the parallel computing part of MIT’s projects back in the mid-90s.
Funding for chip companies has gone down tremendously. Almost no one in the Indian venture ecosystem is willing or equipped to do chips. I’m actually thrilled to hear that you are willing and equipped to do early-stage investments. Congratulations on that.
Tell me a little bit about this company. How does the follow-on funding happen? Were any of your colleagues in India willing to fund the chip company, or did you raise the follow-on funding in Silicon Valley?
Sateesh Andra: I think we were lucky that in the initial round itself, we had some of the investors from around the globe – from Japan as well as Europe. The markets were US, Europe, and Japan and there were a couple of investors that were involved early.
Within India, things are changing quite a bit in terms of VCs’ interest in investing in some of the deep technology companies in early days. While we may get some follow-on capital from India, majority of the capital will come from outside of India.
Sramana Mitra: How far along is the company?
Sateesh Andra: You need to build a compiler. You need to build all the library. All of that is done. I think they’re about to take out the test strip. The initial benchmarking has been very encouraging. We are very positive. Many customers are piloting them in various application scenarios.
Sramana Mitra: Very cool. Let’s talk about another one or two examples.
Sateesh Andra: Let me talk about another example from SaaS. It’s a company called Darwinbox. We wrote the first $300,000 check. It’s an end-to-end HR SaaS platform. In terms of the entire lifecycle, we got recruitment and induction. That’s one function.
Payroll compliance is the second. Then you’ve got engagement. You’ve got learning and development. The team came from Google, E&Y, McKinsey. It’s not so much about the industry experience, but I think they understand the domain really well.
As the Indian economy doubles and triples close to $10 billion in the next two decades, many more companies will grow. Many hundred million companies are going to become billion-dollar companies. We all know that the most precious capital is going to be human capital.
Obviously, many of these mid-sized companies do not have an HR system. Today, they run payroll processing and some of them use recruitment solutions.
While there could be a lot of homegrown local companies and a SAP, Oracle or Workday would try and sell to India customers, we strongly believe that there’s room for an India company and build a large business in India as well as sell to adjacent markets.
The company had a version 1.0 basic MVP but with pilots. They’re fabulous entrepreneurs. Lightspeed invested. I’m very glad to say that they have 100 plus enterprise customers and a couple of hundred thousand employees. They’re already in Singapore and scaling rapidly.
Sramana Mitra: What about Greytip?
Sateesh Andra: They may be going after the low-end segment or the small to medium enterprises. We don’t compete with them in many of the accounts. We compete with SAP SuccessFactors. Occasionally, they see Oracle. There’s this services-driven company in India called PeopleStrong.