Responding to a popular request, we are now sharing transcripts of our investor podcast interviews in this new series. The following interview with Vikas Choudhury was recorded in May 2019.
Vikas Choudhury is Managing Partner at Pivot Ventures and President at Reliance Jio. He is one of the earliest Angel investors in India and invested in early successes like InMobi and Myntra. We discuss the evolution of the Indian startup and venture capital industry.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s start by introducing our audience to yourself as well as to both your activities.
Vikas Choudhury: My day job is actually being part of the leadership team of today’s largest mobile data network Reliance Jio. That is not what I’m here to talk about.
I was one of the first Angel investors in India when the VC industry started out in 2005 and have made more than 30 investments. I have a family of investment vehicles, through which we make private equity investments. Typically, they’re in the pre-Series A stage.
Sramana Mitra: And that is under the Pivot Ventures umbrella?
Vikas Choudhury: Yes, that’s true.
Sramana Mitra: Tell us about the size of the fund. Then, let’s talk about what kind of investments you like to make.
Vikas Choudhury: The fund is family office capital that has been allocated from my extended family as well as some other closely associated business partners. We invest out of our proprietary books in our existing businesses.
We typically do pre-Series A investments. It’s not seed. It’s not Series A. It’s somewhere in between where there is a product and customer validation in place. We write about half a million dollar checks.
Sramana Mitra: The geographical focus is all India-focused ventures?
Vikas Choudhury: Largely, we have invested in businesses connected with India either as a market or as a product innovation hub. However, we are increasingly seeing a lot of opportunities in companies out of Singapore and USA that have India connections.
Offices of our operating family businesses are located in the US, India, and several countries in Asia. That is what we look at but we like to have, at least, one India-connect in the business.
Sramana Mitra: What about sectors? Are you talking about B2B and B2C? If you’re talking one or the other, what is your preferred sector? Can you give us some color on that?
Vikas Choudhury: Our team’s experience comes from a combination of generations of running businesses to now actively investing in other business over the last two decades. We focus essentially on our expertise areas, which is tech and consumer. Of course, those are fairly broad areas.
Within tech and the consumption economy today, some of the areas that we’re looking at actively are anything mobile-related, commerce, analytics and AI, consumer product, retail, healthcare, and FinTech. These are areas that we have traditionally invested in. We’ve operated businesses in all of these areas ourselves. This is where we think the future of opportunities lie.
Sramana Mitra: Both B2B and B2C?
Vikas Choudhury: Yes. Often our B2B plays are B2B2C. We have done quite a few classic SaaS companies as well.