Infosys’s Balakrishnan bitten by startup bug.

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BANGALORE: Outgoing Infosys director V Balakrishnan is joining five other software industry veterans and entrepreneurs to support more than a dozen early-stage companies in emerging technology areas such as data analytics and security.


Besides Balakrishnan, those supporting the Exfinity fund are Mohandas Pai, a former Infosys CFO who is the chairman of Manipal Education Group; former Wipro chief executive Girish Paranjpe; former iFlex Solutions CEO Deepak Ghaisas; startup investor Rajiv Kuchhal and Sunil Mantri, chairman of real-estate firm Mantri Realities. Each of them has contributed Rs 20 crore.


“Startup ideas are great, but their success depends on the way they are taken to market,” said Shailesh Ghorpade, head of investment management firm Azure Capital Advisors, who is managing the fund. Ghorpade said the fund aims to invest in technology companies that can create intellectual property based products and will eventually invest in 15-17 startups across India.


“Apart from financial support, this will help companies with a go-to-market strategy, mentorship and connects with the industry.” The launch of Exfinity comes at a time when data analytics and security products are seeing increased demand from companies in India as well as abroad. Technology research firm Gartner estimates market for analytical applications in India to reach Rs 151 crore by end of 2013.

Exfinity investors said while demand for emerging technologies such as big data, cloud and analytics have ignited interest among venture capital firms, India needs more number of funds backed by people fro the technology industry.

“There are many private equity funds in India that invest in tech firms, but not many are run by people with technology background,” said Balakrishnan who, along with former Infosys director Mohandas Pai, took the initial step towards setting up the fund. He spoke on Thursday, before his resignation from Infosys was announced.

Last month, Balakrishnan sold 1,00,000 shares in Infosys for Rs 33 crore. His resignation from Infosys, where he was seen as a potential CEO, was announced on Friday.

Financing of early-stage technology companies is a common practice is Silicon Valley, where the likes of Bill Gates, Vinod Khosla and Mark Zuckerberg have invested in several startups. In November, Balakrishnan had invested in Unitus Seed Fund, a Rs 92 crore Cayman Island-registered seed-stage fund that invests in companies that cater to low-income groups.

Pai, chairman of Manipal Global Education Services said Exfinity would “focus on technology product companies with high growth potential.” Pai is a partner at Aarin Capital, a $50-million venture firm that invests in healthcare and life sciences companies. He co-founded Aarin Capital with Rajan Pai, chief executive of Manipal Education & Medical Group.

Azure’s Ghorpade said the fund can eventually raise up to Rs 125 crore and is currently in talks with companies across Bangalore , Pune, Hyderabad and Chennai. “We have shortlisted a few, but we will talk to more firms.”

He is a Software Engineer from Moodbidri currently living in Kuwait. He likes to travel and post interesting things about technology. He is the designer of Kannadigaworld.com. You may follow him on FB at fb.com/alanpaladka

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