RIL keen on investing in start-ups

RIL keen on investing in start-ups

After mentoring 11 start-ups, the venture investment arm of Reliance Industries is now looking forward to invest in new companies which will be crucial to its growth, a top official said today.

Eleven start-ups completed a mentoring programme launched by RIL's arm Gennext Ventures and Microsoft Ventures recently and both the partners today announced that they have started inviting applications for the second batch where around a dozen start-ups will be mentored.

"For the second batch our intent is yes (we will invest). For the first batch, we were not ready, we were learning. In second batch, we think that we can assimilate the learnings from the first batch and start to internally line up so that we are in a position to start investing," Gennext Ventures Managing Partner Vivek Rai Gupta told PTI here.

Both RIL and Microsoft have not invested in any of the 11 companies which underwent the mentorship programme, he said, stressing that introduction to VC funds has resulted in 30-40 per cent of them getting commitments.

For investing, it will be looking at companies engaged in the digital space, including financial services, security, energy management, healthcare, home automation and connected cars, he said.

Gennext, which has already invested in two companies which are outside the first batch of 11, will be looking to invest in companies which are allied not just with the upcoming 4G launch in the telecom space, but also other business including the "core business", he  said.
He, however, did not give any idea about the money which RIL would invest, saying Gennext is "flexible".

"We are very flexible. At the end of the day, what determines the ticket size is the opportunity because we are making investments as a corporate, by and large we will take only small stakes," he said, adding that it will pick up only up to 15 per cent stake.

Gupta exuded confidence that with RIL showing faith in a company, it will be able to attract more financial investors.

"If we invest, we think our validation is a good stamp of approval and there are a lot of venture capitalists who will top up with their funding," he said.

RIL wants the investments to be "mutually beneficial" both for itself as well as the company.
"For the companies, we provide value, the companies provide us solutions and services for our future growth interests," he said.

Microsoft India's director for start-ups, Kattayil Rajinish Menon said the company is not interested in investing in any of the start-ups which will get mentored by the accelerator programme.

Gupta said Gennext was pleasantly surprised with the quality of the start-ups and also their receptiveness.

For the second batch, both Gennext and Microsoft said they will target an equal number of of mentoring around a dozen start-ups at the former's specially created facility at RIL's campus in neighbouring Navi Mumbai.

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