PRESS RELEASE: Unitus Seed Fund adds more prominent investors
Monday, November 17, 2014
November 16, 2014. Bangalore: Unitus Seed Fund, India’s leading venture seed fund supporting startups innovating for the masses, announced that it has now raised over USD $4 million from 16 high net income Indian investors in its Indian rupee fund. Additionally, Unitus Seed Fund announced that leading Seattle area tech executives, including Steve Singh, Diego Piacentini, and Bill Gates have invested in Unitus Seed Fund’s affiliated offshore venture fund. Unitus Seed Fund has more than $20M USD to invest across healthcare, education, mobile commerce & value-added services, marketplaces & e-commerce, retail & distribution, agriculture, water and energy sectors. Unitus has already announced 14 investments in India.
As noted in the September 2014 G8 report on impact investing “…the most common obstacle faced by impact entrepreneurs is securing early stage risk capital.” Unitus Seed Fund and its leadership investors aim to address this challenge through their own work and by encouraging HNI investors to embrace impact more broadly.
“Impact investing is a powerful model with the potential to build markets and drive change for the people who need it most,” said Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft and co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. (Bill Gates’ investment is a personal one and not associated with his foundation’s work.)
“I have invested in Unitus Seed Fund because I believe that Indian entrepreneurs are uniquely positioned to field profitable and scalable solutions that unlock opportunity for the masses in India”, said Desh Deshpande, chairman of Tejas Networks. “The Unitus Group has a track record of finding and supporting the best entrepreneurs who are building impact businesses serving the base of the economic pyramid in India, and making good money at the same time. I hope others will join me in investing in impact funds from Unitus Group and other innovative managers.”
Unitus invests in India through two investment funds: Unitus Seed Fund India, a Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI)-registered venture capital fund, and Unitus Seed Fund, LP an offshore venture capital fund.
More than 50 leadership investors have committed to Unitus’ offshore India-focused fund, including Bill Gates (Microsoft, Gates Foundation), Desh Deshpande (formerly Sycamore Networks), Romesh Wadhwani (Symphony TG), Vinod Khosla (Khosla Ventures), Steve Singh (Cleartrip, Concur) Soma Somasegar (Microsoft), Dilip Wagle (McKinsey), Geeta Aiyer (Boston Common), Kamesh Aiyer, Pradeep Singh (Aditi), Bharat Shah (Microsoft), Anoop Gupta (Microsoft), Nagesh Pabbisetty (Microsoft), Prady Misra, Vikram Chalana (Winshuttle). A number of leading foundations have also invested, including Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, Crystal Springs Foundation, Pfizer Foundation, Sorenson Impact Foundation, and others.
New investors in Unitus Seed Fund India include Srikanth Iyer (former CEO of Pearson India), Sharvil Parikh (Phenix Consulting), Kishore Musale (Astarc Group), Jacob Ninan (Kottackal Business Solutions), Aroon Raman (Raman FibreScience). Unitus is currently accepting inquiries from other HNI Indian nationals wishing to participate in the growth of startup businesses.
“We are very pleased to announce our growing group of Indian HNI investors who see the opportunity to invest in innovative high-growth startups serving the masses in India”, said Srikrishna Ramamoorthy, Partner of Unitus Seed Fund. “We are finding a large number of high-quality entrepreneurs in India who are creating disruptive businesses that can deliver superior financial returns to investors while improving the lives of millions of India’s low-income populations.”
Unitus’ fund is open to receive investments from Indian national investors only, until December 2014.
The new investors have joined with founding investors in Unitus Seed Fund India including T.V. Mohandas Pai (Formerly Infosys CFO), Dr. Ranjan Pai (CEO of Manipal Education and Medical Group), Hemendra Kothari (DSP Blackrock), Pramod Saxena (CEO of Oxigen), Hema Hattangady (Conzerv/Schneider), Ananda Kallugadde (Neobytes), Rajeev Bakshi (METRO Cash & Carry), and Ravi Venkatesan (Infosys, Microsoft, Cummins), and other entrepreneurs and business luminaries, listed here.
The G8 report goes on to say “…there is growing recognition that markets and the private sector must play a more significant role if we are to solve or at least make a dent in addressing some of the greatest challenges facing developing countries worldwide.” The 65 leadership investors in Unitus Seed Fund are doing their part.