Responding to a popular request, we are now sharing transcripts of our investor podcast interviews in this new series. The following interview with Shripati Acharya was recorded in April 2019.
Shripati Acharya is Managing Partner at Priven Advisors, advising Prime Venture Partners, a firm focused on core technology ventures in India. Unlike most VCs, Prime does do concept-stage investments.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s get acquainted. Let’s get our audience introduced to you as well as to Prime.
Shripati Acharya: Prime is an early-stage tech venture fund out of Bangalore. We invest in companies where we are the first institutional check. We invest in companies in core tech. I grew up here in India. I spent 20 years in the US. I was at Cisco.
I was a Co-Founder of a company called Snapfish. I moved to India about 10 years back. I worked as a volunteer at Aadhaar, which is India’s biometrics system. It’s probably the largest system in the world. After that, we started Prime Ventures.
Sramana Mitra: You said you work in core tech. How big is the fund?
Shripati Acharya: Our current fund is $70 million.
Sramana Mitra: How do you define core tech? Are you doing core tech in the B2B context or core tech in both B2B and B2C? Double-click down on that for a moment for us.
Shripati Acharya: What I meant to say is, areas where tech is driving a core part of the value proposition of a startup. It could be anything from B2B or B2C. What we don’t do is pure consumer branding. All these areas are actually going as fast, sometimes faster, than many other tech areas, but this is not an area where we participate.
The partners have an operator DNA. For it to be meaningful for us to partner with startups, it has to be something that we are passionate about and where we can add value.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s also double-click down on your comment about writing the first check. I’m sure you’re following what’s happening globally in the venture ecosystem.
Especially in the seed stage, there’s been a lot of fragmentation and segmentation going on. People are specializing within seed – pre-seed, post-seed, pre-Series A, small Series A, big Series A. They have their own definition of each of those.
The question that I usually ask investors is what do you want to see by way of validation? What do entrepreneurs need to bring to you for you to want to invest?
Shripati Acharya: It’s a two-part question. Onto your first one, you have so many classes of funding rounds now. Our typical ticket size is around a million dollars. If it is a company that we have invested at the napkin stage, then it’s probably going to be a lot less.
If it’s a company that has demonstrated product-market fit, then that would be a higher ticket size. I would call us seed investors. Many times, companies come to us that are funded by angels. They might have had a friends-and-family round. They might have had a small angel round.