Sramana Mitra: Two-sided marketplaces tend to be capital-intensive but you have found an entrepreneur who has managed to do a capital-efficient two-sided marketplace scale. What is the secret of that?
Sandeep Sardana: The entrepreneur is a do-it-all entrepreneur. He’s a top-level CTO himself. He has a great business mind. He built a small and very effective team in Bangalore. We leveraged our network. He also knew that speed matters. He has done it before.
Sramana Mitra: What else is interesting in your portfolio and your thinking on investing?
Sandeep Sardana: We’ve invested in Cloudbrink, which has a dream team of sorts. We’re going to give it a little bit more time before we announce. Zoom sessions are going to improve using their product. You won’t run into issues around bandwidth not being available.
Another one is Classpass. They’re a marketplace. Then, we have FanDuel that exited to Flutter Entertainment. That was a phenomenal company. I’m excited about the sports betting market. I have a new sports betting investment out of the newest fund. We’re going to bring sports betting to every brick-and-mortar location. Lastly, we also did Postmates. We’ve done a new marketplace which is bringing fresh groceries from shippers using our network of carriers.
Sramana Mitra: You like marketplaces.
Sandeep Sardana: I do like marketplaces.
Sramana Mitra: What is your analysis of the marketplace opportunity going forward?
Sandeep Sardana: It’s been doing well and it’ll continue to do well. You’re taking what’s happening in the physical world and adding digital elements to it. We’ve done multiple marketplaces. When they grow, they grow really fast. They are capital-intensive but if I find them at the right stage, it doesn’t matter. The velocity is an important piece.
Sramana Mitra: What have you learned about the drivers in the velocity in a marketplace?
Sandeep Sardana: Some marketplaces haven’t done well because of the pandemic. Travel suffered through the pandemic. They’re recovering now. They were on a great growth path and, all of a sudden, the pandemic happened. Once that happens, it takes a lot more effort to bring things back. In other cases, things have accelerated. In a majority of the cases, things have accelerated because of the pandemic.
My belief is in digitizing the world. We look for what changes the human experience. We follow that by the sources and its impact. We look for enabling technologies and business models. It’s an odd way of looking at it.
Sramana Mitra: Could you identify a few specific trends against which you would like to invest in? Digitization is a broad trend.
Sandeep Sardana: We’re a generalist investor. Oftentimes, we don’t sit down a whole lot and think about what’s going to change dramatically. We keep a sense of what’s happening with the technologies and the changing business models. As entrepreneurs come to us with their stories, that’s when we start to double-click.
I’ll give you an example where we’re looking forward to investing. Certainly, office-anywhere is one space. Our employees don’t want to come back to the office anymore. But people need to get together. We’re forming our thesis on this. We’ll continue to look at increased improvements using data and AI.
There was one question that people have asked me. Everything has been done. What’s left? We’re seeing everything getting better and better with newer tech. We like to see that come back again. We’re also looking at new spaces. For a small fund, we don’t like to do capital-intensive industries. As long as we can find a path to growth, we will invest.