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1Mby1M Virtual Accelerator Investor Forum: With Krishnakumar Natarajan, Co-Founder of Mela Ventures (Part 2)

Posted on Saturday, May 14th 2022

Sramana Mitra: Does your thesis also translate into FinTech? FinTech has a big B2B element to it and there is a lot going on. India is a very big FinTech market.

Krishnakumar Natarajan: You’re absolutely right. Fintech is becoming a very large market in India. The public digital infrastructure to support FinTech in India is also well-established starting with the identity management system to the UPI which is peer-to-peer payment almost with no fee.

With this being available, we’re exploring opportunities to expand and address both SMB credit needs. What’s very promising is the whole area around accounts payable. We are looking at a few technology-enabled collectible orders which is entirely changing in which collections are being done.

Sramana Mitra: In terms of global B2B tech, what have you invested in? What are you seeing there that is interesting?

Krishnakumar Natarajan: VC potential opportunities that are at the intersection of two technologies. One of our thesis is that the application of computer vision and AI will drive a lot of enterprise adoption. In line with that theses, we look for unique cases that solve unique business problems. One of the investments we’ve done is a group of founders from IBM Research who have built a retail sales solution using computer vision and AI.

Our thesis is that physical stores are not going to go away. Physical shopping is still a social experience. Traditional experience of store audits like AC Nielsen are sending merchandisers to the stores to count how much shelf space you’ve. Gone are all things that can be transformed through digitization. This company works with a lot of global brands helping them digitize the last-mile retail store audit. The brands get almost real-time feedback on how brands are performing and also get to know competitor activity.

Sramana Mitra: The point at which you’re investing, are they selling only in India or elsewhere as well?

Krishnakumar Natarajan: This company was selling only in India when we started. Leveraging our network, they are now present in about 10 markets. This year, the key thrust is to get to a developed market like the US.

Sramana Mitra: That’s fantastic.

Krishnakumar Natarajan: The fundamental value is in helping entrepreneurs chalk out a viable GTM and acquire customers.

Sramana Mitra: You have a unique Rolodex there which I imagine is very handy. Is Mindtree part of your channel?

Krishnakumar Natarajan: Yes. There are three global prospects that are coming through the Mindtree channel. A number of large IT services companies including Accenture Innovation Labs have evaluated them and have taken them to two customers. They need to rapidly accelerate the digital transformation of their client premises.

Sramana Mitra: Very interesting. Speaking to a different trend, there have been 41 unicorns last year. What do you make of that?

Krishnakumar Natarajan: The media visibility on unicorns has put it in an exalted state. Today we have far more mature entrepreneurs. Several of them are serial entrepreneurs. The ecosystem in India is also far stronger. There are enough people to help companies grow.

This segment is part 2 in the series : 1Mby1M Virtual Accelerator Investor Forum: With Krishnakumar Natarajan, Co-Founder of Mela Ventures
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