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December 31, 2007

Rejuvenating hydel power

Businessworld has an article on the challenges facing hydelpower projects in India.
While India is reeling under a huge power shortage, hydro accounts for just a fourth of the total installed capacity of around 100,000 mega watts (MW). India’s progress on the hydro front has, after the initial spurt, been tepid. Till now, only 21 per cent of the potential hydro capacity is developed.

...three-fourths of the projects still remain in the public sector, with central PSUs such as National Hydroelectricity Power Corporation (NHPC) and North Eastern Electric Power Corporation accounting for the bulk. Only 4 per cent of the installed hydropower capacity has been commissioned by the private sector till September, according to the CEA.

...Manoj Gaur, chairman of Delhi-based infrastructure group Jaiprakash Industries, says that land acquisition and government clearances pose the biggest hurdles. Jaiprakash has the largest share (58 per cent) in private hydropower in India. Uncertainty in the time-line for clearances is one of the main reasons why the private sector is staying away, he complains.

Arun Natarajan is the Founder & CEO of Venture Intelligence, the leading provider of information and networking services to the private equity and venture capital ecosystem in India. View free samples of Venture Intelligence newsletters and reports.

December 27, 2007

Deal Alert: IDG Ventures India invests $3-M in Perfint

From the press release:

IDG Ventures India, a $150 Million early-stage technology venture capital fund has announced an investment of $3 million in Perfint, a healthcare devices start-up.

Perfint is headquartered in Chennai with its product development labs in Mysore. It has been co-founded by Mr. S Nandakumar, Mr. B D Vijaya and a team of healthcare device professionals that were closely associated with building GE Healthcare's Design, Manufacturing and Sourcing hub in India.

Perfint will focus on developing Niche Healthcare Products and Solutions, that address Clinical Productivity needs globally with a special focus on Emerging Markets like India, China , amongst others and subsequently developed markets like USA, Europe etc. Their first product called PIGA, is a Tool Positioner for Image Guided Minimally Invasive (IG-MI) procedures. Some of the clinical applications that PIGA supports would be, Fine needle aspiration (FN A), Biopsy and RF Ablation (RFA) of small tumors in the lung and the abdomen. PIGA, to be launched in India in early '08, would be amongst the earliest positioning devices available globally, for such soft tissue procedures. PIGA is under clinical evaluation at this moment.

"IDG Ventures is very happy to be associated with the ex GE team led by Mr. Nandakumar and Mr. B D Vijaya, more so since I have known them from my Wipro days. Given the expertise of the team and the disruptive nature of the products, Perfint is well placed to be a leader in this domain. This is the first of our many Life Sciences Engineering investments in India" said Mr. Sudhir Sethi, Chairman & Managing Director, IDG Ventures India.

Image guided interventions can be broadly categorized as IG (Image Guided) diagnosis (like biopsy), IG therapy (like radiation) and IG Surgery. The global market for minimally invasive image-guided interventions is currently over $3 billion, though, for example, currently only less than 15% of all surgeries are performed using IG-MI approach.

"With increasing healthcare awareness and ever improving hospital infrastructure across the world, guided procedures for early stage cancer diagnosis, drug delivery etc, are estimated to grow from under 10-15% of total procedures done today to about 50-60% by 2010. That presents a huge opportunity for devices such as PIGA" added Mr. Sudhir Sethi.

"Perfint works closely with healthcare professionals to co-create niche devices that are Intelligent, Connected and Affordable while meeting global standards in safety and reliability. Our product development professionals are passionate about creating world-class products. We will deploy the funds raised from IDG to accelerate our New Product programs .We will start with emerging markets and look at entering the US markets in 2009. Our investors' global network will be of great help as we build world-class clinical and technology advisory panels" said Mr. S. Nandakumar, co-founder and CEO of Perfint.

Mr. Sudhir Sethi and Mr. Ranjith Menon of IDG Ventures India will join the Board of Directors at Perfint.

December 24, 2007

Interview with Kreeda Games' Quentin Staes-Polet

Kamla Bhatt has a two part audio interview with Quentin Staes-Polet, the Belgian CEO of Kreeda Games, the Bombay-based online multiplayer gaming start-up funded by IDG Ventures India and SoftBank.

Quentin has some interesting points on why the firm chose not to disclose the amount of funding it raised, interplay between social networking and gaming, experience of an "foreigner" starting a business in India, etc.

Arun Natarajan is the Founder & CEO of Venture Intelligence, the leading provider of information and networking services to the Private Equity and Venture Capital ecosystem in India. View sample issues of Venture Intelligence India newsletters and reports.

Lassi Making Machines

Businessworld has a profile of a Delhi-based company that makes Lassi making machines.
...an enterprising young man called Sultan did the next best thing. He perfected a lassi-churning device. He sold his first machines to the numerous lassi shops and restaurants in the crowded lanes around Delhi’s Jama Masjid area. The devices ran on electricity, worked for hours on end, needed little maintenance and almost never broke down. That was the 1950s.

Fifteen years after starting out, Sultan passed away. His son Mohammed Usman, barely 20 then, took over. Usman decided to name the devices ‘Sultan’ in memory of his father. He moved the workshop to Daryaganj in 1992 and also set up a factory in Wazirabad, which employs 25 workers and engineers, to meet the growing demand for his father’s machines. He called the business Raja & Co. — a nickname given to him by friends and loyal customers.

Usman’s sons have helped add a modern touch to the 50-year-old family business. Orders from outside Delhi frequently come in via e-mail. This has taken Sultan machines to lassi shops in faraway cities such as Meerut, Ranchi, Patna and Lucknow. “The final machine depends entirely on what the customer wants,” says Arish. He pulls out brochures and photographs and begins to explain all the options.

Arun Natarajan is the Founder & CEO of Venture Intelligence, the leading provider of information and networking services to the private equity and venture capital ecosystem in India. View free samples of Venture Intelligence newsletters and reports.

December 21, 2007

Deal Alert: IDFC PE invests $63-M in Goodearth Maritime

Edited extracts from the press release:

IDFC Private Equity (IDFC PE) has invested Rs.260 crores in Goodearth Maritime Limited (GML), a leading Chennai-based dry bulk shipping company. o3 Capital was the sole advisor to GML for this transaction.

The company intends to use these funds to fund its growth plans for the green-field ship building yard in Tamil Nadu, as well as for its foray into the on-shore and off-shore oil drilling sector. The shipyard is expected to require a total investment of around $500 million in the first phase, with a capacity to build about 25 to 30 ships a year, including VLCCs.

Mr. P.B. Anandam, Chairman, GML, speaking on the occasion, said “We are in the process of making Goodearth Maritime a global shipping company, with a strong shipbuilding base in India. The potential of Indian shipbuilding economics will fully unfold in our yard near Cuddalore with third generation international standards of ship construction. It would give our ship owning a competitive edge in terms of size, quality and our commitment to Indian resources, both human and material.”

Luis Miranda, President and CEO, IDFC PE, said “We have a large portfolio in the transport sector covering ports, airports, roads and logistics, and GML fills the gap in terms of the shipping and ship building sector. This is our largest investment to date.”

About Goodearth Maritime Limited

Goodearth Maritime Limited (GML) is the flagship company of the Archean Group. Archean Group is a large conglomerate of businesses spanning various interests such as Ores and Minerals, Coal, Common Salt, Industrial Chemicals, Shipping and Ship Building and Renewable Energy Resources.

GML owns and operates a fleet of six ships, and has a pipeline of nine ships which are to be delivered over the next three years. It is professionally managed with Mr. S. Madhan as the Managing Director, and is supported by well-trained and skilled staff. GML is also the first Indian company to boast of an in-house design team which caters to the requirements of the company and also for external consulting.

For more information, please visit www.archeangroup.com

About IDFC Private Equity

IDFC Private Equity (IDFC PE) is the largest infrastructure focused private equity investor in India. It manages funds of INR 28,500 Million (USD $630 Million). Some investments of IDFC PE include GMR Infrastructure (Exited), Gujarat State Petronet, Chalet Hotels, Delhi International Airport, L&T Infrastructure developers, Gujarat Pipavav Port, Manipal Education, Manipal Healthcare, Delhi Assam Roadways, SICAL Logistics and Moser Baer Photo Voltaics.

December 18, 2007

Deal Alert: IDG invests in IISc incubated co.

Extracts from IDG Ventures' press release:

IDG Ventures India, a $150 Million early-stage technology venture capital fund, has announced its investment in 3D Solid Compression (3DSoC), a startup incubated by Stanford University and Indian Institute of Science (IISc).

3D Solid compression has been co-founded by Prof. Fritz Prinz (Stanford) Prof. B. Gurumoorthy (IISC), Dr. Krishnan Ramaswami and Mr. K K Venkatraman around the vision of ‘3D for All’. 3DSoC is positioned to be a key player in the 3D content creation and visualization space with VIS (Virtual Interactive Solid), its novel 3D representation format. The ability to interact with the concise representation enables 3DSoC to straddle markets as diverse as 3D Publishing and Visualization and Rich Internet Applications. Today, 3DSoC’s customers in India include major players in the Automotive and Engineering verticals who see significant benefits in leveraging 3D product data in both marketing and the MRO side of the business, due to the highly compressed nature of the files. VIS is a multimedia representation where, in addition to 3D shape information, animation, textures, audio and text may be integrated.

“It is our belief that 3D technology adoption forms the next wave of innovation in digital distribution of content. Whether it be 3D GUI’s, Rich Internet applications, a Second Life like platform or global engineering digital supply chains, our investment in 3D Solid compression is well positioned to ride this wave.” said Mr. Sudhir Sethi, Chairman & Managing Director, IDG Ventures India. "After ConnectM, a spinout from Sasken, this is our second spin out, this time from two leading academic institutions."

“Our vision is to enable 3D Animated Content creation and experience by ALL from large enterprises to the common man with the freedom to deliver the content on any platform – from desktop to handheld. 3DSoC’s value proposition lies in its ability to compress models significantly and allow for interaction at the same time. You can potentially distribute heavy 3D models over the internet or even mobile networks. We are seeing good traction with the enterprise sector for our present product offerings and will be using the funding to achieve the same on the mass consumer side. Our immediate priority is to hire top talent for accelerating product development and building out the global sales infrastructure. We hope to benefit from the rich experience of the investor nominees on the board, the strong presence of IDG globally and their long standing connections with the publication vertical.” said Mr. K. K. Venkatraman, co-founder and CEO of 3DSoC.

“Even though the VIS models are very concise, they are lossless. Thus it is possible to create precise and complex 3D models that are smaller than the static image files. A static 3D model can be compressed by up to 100 times even with animation embedded in it. Our goal is to create a platform that enables easy creation of animated 3D models by a novice user. One of our customer’s experiences has been that models that took a few months to create with existing tools took only a few days to create with our product. We believe that 3D content will be the next wave of user generated content that will be disseminated on the web.” said Mr. Krishnan Ramaswami, co-founder and CTO of 3DSoC.

December 17, 2007

VC Market

The following companies are seeking capital for starting-up / expanding their operations:

07-11-28-2: Yanam, AP based developer seeks around $5 M for acquiring land for the development of Industrial Estates, SEZs and tourism-related projects.

07-11-28-3: Hyderabad based ERP focused IT Services firm seeks above $5 M – ideally from an investor with strong network in Europe - for funding acquisitions.

07-11-28-4: Bangalore based group seeks <$1 M for setting up restaurants business.

07-11-28-5: Nagpur based Project Engineering company engaged in HVAC Projects, Marine AC & R Projects, Industrial Chilling Systems etc. seeks <$1 Million for expansion of operations.

07-12-12-1: Delhi based woman entrepreneur seeks $1-5 M for launching day care services for working women

07-12-12-2: Ranchi based award-winning anti-hacking services organization seeks <$100 K for expansion

For more information about any of these companies, investors - who are subscribers to the Venture Intelligence service - can email the company code to vcmarket@ventureintelligence.in. To learn about our subscription services for investors, please visit our web site.

Are you an entrepreneur seeking capital? List your company in the Venture Intelligence VC Market using the form here

December 12, 2007

Interview with Symphony Cap's Sunil Chandiramani

The Mint has an interview with Sunil Chandiramani, Partner at Symphony Capital. The team behind Symphony, which was earlier investing as Schroders Capital Asia, is one of the most experienced "India hands" with successful investments in companies like Apollo Hospitals, Blue Dart and Orchid Pharma. In the interview, Sunil talks about the firms pan-Asia focus, why it decided to raise money from the public capital markets (instead of the LP route) and, of course, valuation concerns.
One of the things we constantly face with entrepreneurs is that they don’t want to sell their businesses but an IPO (initial public offering) can cause them to be locked in longer than they may want. So now we can give a third option for exits. We can give them stock in our diversified investment company. As long as we are comfortable that there is a succession plan in place, we can swap stock in his company for stock in our company.

...Our 1994-1995 vintage fund saw rough times with the Asian crisis and when the fund life came to an end, our investors wanted to sell. But we were just beginning to see the turn up that we had seen in other Asian markets, and knew it would take 18 to 24 months to see higher valuations. Yet, investors were concerned about another crisis. So even though we didn’t really want to sell, we were required to sell, because the fund’s life came to an end. To an investor this may not be a big deal, but this was a $220 million fund and had we waited another 12 to 15 months, we would have made another $150 million – with 20% of carry that’s $30 million. That is a lot of money to leave on the table.

...At that time, during 1994 -1995, valuations in most of Southeast Asia in were very high. India was comparatively attractive. Many of our investments were made in the low single digit price earnings ratios or low teen. So we made a spate of investments in India between 1995 and 1998. Apollo Hospitals to Blue Dart. And a couple of pharmaceutical businesses: Orchid and Strides. We have directly invested in India and also through portfolio companies. For example, Singapore’s Parkway Holdings has investment in India and so does Aman Resorts, which was our portfolio company until we sold our stake to DLF in the last few weeks.

Arun Natarajan is the Founder & CEO of Venture Intelligence, the leading provider of information and networking services to the private equity and venture capital ecosystem in India. View free samples of Venture Intelligence newsletters and reports.

December 11, 2007

The Restaurateur from Chennai

While I was reading a profile of M. Mahadevan of Oriental Cuisines in The Hindu, I realized that he seemed to own almost every restaurant that I'd enjoyed eating at in Chennai. (And, I had always associated his name mainly with "Hot Breads" - which I don't frequent at all!)

The gentleman indeed seems to be a very fascinating entrepreneur - one that is sure to be besieged by offers from Private Equity firms.

Along the way, Mahadevan, the restless man that he is, launched a whole slew of fast food and restaurant brands for every segment of consumers – Benjarong, the Thai restaurant, Wang’s Kitchen and Noodle House for Chinese, Don Pepe for Mexican, Zara, the Spanish Tavern and the byword in food courts – PlanetYumm.

Not being content with India operations, Mahadevan ventured into foreign shores – he took Hot Breads to France and Italy, tied up with Saravana Bhavan to take the brand to US and opened a string of bakeries in the Gulf region. “But India is still my exploring territory and Chennai especially is my favourite city. I have been toying around with a chocolate idea for sometime now. And, I wanted to take the bread experience a step further,” says Mahadevan. So, out came The French Loaf and Maple Leaf.

...With 11 brands in his Indian operations and 4 in the International markets, Mahadevan manages a large work force – almost 1400 people in India and about 1000 in the International markets where he is present. Mahadevan is presently on an expansion spree with plans to open outlets in Bombay and Delhi. “Benjarong and Zara are the two brands I am taking to these cities. Thai food and Spanish Tapas will quite be the rage when the outlets open,” says Mahadevan. The art of retailing food is what he has mastered over the years, catering to the constantly changing food habits of new generation and old in different market situations. Mahadevan sure has a finger in every pie as much as he has a finger on the pulse of the food market.


Arun Natarajan is the Founder & CEO of Venture Intelligence, the leading provider of information and networking services to the private equity and venture capital ecosystem in India. View free samples of Venture Intelligence newsletters and reports.

December 10, 2007

McHospitals

Business Today has an interesting article on how healthcare firms are responding to newer consumer needs with innovative formats.
The Cradle is a high-end model where people come and pay for the experience. Just like Gayathri, 28, who recently delivered her child at The Cradle in Bangalore. She and her husband, R. Venkateshan, an engineer with Accenture, chose The Cradle because, as he says: “We opted for this place mainly to undergo the experience. It’s very homely here and of international standards.” His corporate insurance took care of the bills.

Typically, a Cesarean section delivery costs about Rs 80,000 at The Cradle. That’s not too much if you consider the facilities. The place hardly looks like a hospital with its bright colours, no visiting hours, a cake shop, private birthing suites, and all-in-one labour, delivery and recovery room equipped with imported Hill-Rom beds that cost around Rs 10 lakh and can perform many tasks—for instance, it has drawers fitted with infant monitors. In the nine months of its existence, the hospital has handled 382 deliveries and most mothers have returned home with their babies within 48 hours. "We do not see the need for a longer stay, unless there is some complication. Ours is a western way of recovery. We have 70-80 per cent occupancy and we get all kinds of people ranging from housewives to wives of bureaucrats and politicians and MNC professionals," says Dr R. Kishore Kumar, The Cradle MD, and a neonatologist.

...As a recent Technopak study (healthcare outlook) points out: "While hospitals will continue to be the mainstay of treatment for episodic acute care, we see a fundamental shift in the nature, mode and means of delivery." And its study of the trends abroad suggests that the way forward would only be in formats that range from retail healthcare, day-care centres, assisted living formats, rehabilitation centres to even medical malls!

Arun Natarajan is the Founder & CEO of Venture Intelligence, the leading provider of information and networking services to the private equity and venture capital ecosystem in India. View free samples of Venture Intelligence newsletters and reports.

Deal Alert: IDG Ventures invests $2.5 million in security product co. iViZ,

Edited extracts from IDG Ventures's press release:

IDG Ventures India, a $150 Million early-stage technology venture capital fund, has announced its investment of $2.5 million in iViZ, a network security startup in the Security and Vulnerability Management market. Kolkata-based iViZ has come up with the world’s first "Automated and On Demand Penetration Testing product".

"It is our privilege to support iViZ founded by Mr. Bikash Barai and Mr. Nilanjan De. This investment is based on our thrust of investing in disruptive software product firms out of India with a potential to scale globally,” said Mr. Sudhir Sethi, Chairman and Managing Director, IDG Ventures India.

iViZ plans to utilize the investment to build its sales team in North America, Europe, Middle East/APAC and India and to significantly enhance its product development initiatives.

“Our vision is to be a global leader in the Security and Vulnerability Management market with Automated Penetration Testing and Security Risk Management as our first offering. We partnered IDG Ventures for the global IDG Platform and the strategic help that iViZ will derive in realizing its vision from the presence of investor nominees Mr. Sudhir Sethi and Mr. Hemir Doshi on the Board” said Mr. Bikash Barai, co-founder and CEO of iViZ.

“We have used Artificial Intelligence techniques and simulation of next generation hacking techniques to build the product” said Mr. Nilanjan De, the co-founder and CTO of iViZ, “Unlike current Penetration Testing process which is manual and non comprehensive our product can detect vulnerabilities and also its corresponding remedies in a completely automated way”.

Metamorphosis at Manipal

Business Today has an article of the changing face of the education- and healthcare- focused Manipal Group.
Gradually, he has ceded close control of his businesses to professional managers. “We want each business unit to be run individually and we will take a minimal supervisory role,” says Ramdas Pai. On the education front, Sudarshan has been given a broad mandate to not only expand its global footprint (with institutes in Antigua in the Caribbean and possibly in Curacao, a Dutch principality off the coast of Miami), but also look to inorganically grow the company’s businesses.

“We want to model ourselves on Tata Sons, especially when it comes to nurturing new companies and providing seed funding,” says Ranjan Pai. Manipal Cure and Care, in fact, was begun with Rs 5 crore in seed funding from MEMG. It then leant on MEMG’s chain of doctors and other medical staff to get people for these centres. Now, it wants to replicate the model for Stemputics, its stem cell research initiative. “They must conceive business ideas and we can provide financial and operational support to them. But, they must eventually be able to fund these initiatives in the long-term," says Ramdas Pai.

Backed by this funding, Manipal Cure and Care now plans to launch at least seven or eight more stores up to March. "Our focus will be on getting prime real estate to set up these stores. We want to target people who donft want to enter a hospital-like atmosphere for mainly cosmetic treatment," says Somnath Das, COO of Manipal Cure and Care. This chain will stock medicines and beauty products. Das sums up the gameplan when he says: "We want to be part of the Rs. 1,000 that a customer would spend on movie and dinner and not on the money used in medical emergencies. We want to be a planned retail expense for them."

Arun Natarajan is the Founder & CEO of Venture Intelligence, the leading provider of information and networking services to the private equity and venture capital ecosystem in India. View free samples of Venture Intelligence newsletters and reports.

Profile of Godrej Properties

Business Today has an article on the Godrej Group's property business, which is to launch an IPO shortly.
As of September, GPL had projects—in progress and signed—on close to 200 acres of land. Some of them are joint developments, involving other developers, whilst a few are wholly-owned by GPL. Going by the property prices prevailing in the various locations where these projects are being executed—in areas in Mumbai, Pune, Bangalore, Kolkata and Hyderabad—Godrej’s share is estimated to be worth a little under Rs 4,000 crore.

...It’s the sheer scale of the potential that’s locked within the group that has investors licking their chops in anticipation of GPL’s public offering (which is slated for March 2008; GPL is expected to raise a little under Rs 1,000 crore by issuing 10 per cent of fresh equity). Analysts currently value the company at 3,500-4,000 crore, based on current operations. But that is the proverbial tip of the iceberg that is GPL. As Korde points out: “Today, we don’t have access to the land available with the group (in Vikhroli). However, as when the group plans to develop that land, that land will come under GPL.” Company officials point out that the land in Vikhroli is equally owned by Adi Godrej and cousin Jamshyd.

Arun Natarajan is the Founder & CEO of Venture Intelligence, the leading provider of information and networking services to the private equity and venture capital ecosystem in India. View free samples of Venture Intelligence newsletters and reports.

Rupee Rise Begins to Hit Manufacturing

Business Today has an article on how millions of jobs in the manufacturing industry "could vanish" due to the rupee's seemingly inexorable rise.
The weakening dollar has now started taking its toll on manufacturing in India. The worst hit are export-intensive sectors like textiles, leather, handicrafts and engineering. Faced with contracting margins, companies in these industries are now resorting to drastic measures, like retrenchment drives, to stay competitive. And the estimated job losses run into several millions. According to the Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO), the apex export body, almost 8 million jobs are likely to be lost this financial year. And it reckons that the problem will get worse if the rupee continues to appreciate rapidly.

...Exporters, then, are struggling to cope with the onslaught of the rising rupee. If the rupee continues to appreciate, then it could force many small exporters to fold up operations or slash production, resulting in more job losses. Economists point out that at the root of the problem is not the appreciating rupee alone but the pace at which the currency has gained against the dollar. Says Subir Gokarn, Chief Economist, Standard & Poor’s, Asia Pacific: “If you see between 2002 to 2007, the rupee gained about 10 per cent. An average of 2 per cent a year was manageable for exporters, who offset the losses through improved productivity and export growth remained buoyant. But this time, the sharp spike in the rupee value has really hurt exporters.”

Arun Natarajan is the Founder & CEO of Venture Intelligence, the leading provider of information and networking services to the private equity and venture capital ecosystem in India. View free samples of Venture Intelligence newsletters and reports.

December 04, 2007

DFJ's Sateesh Andra on mGinger investment

ContentSutra has an interview with DFJ's Sateesh Andra on the firm's investment in mobile advertising services firm mGinger.
How much have you invested in mGinger?
We’ve invested $1.5 million, while NEA-IndoUS has invested $500,000.

Why mGinger, what was the company’s valuation, and how did you value the company?
There are three things - first is a good marketing opportunity. Mobile is a great medium, as is opt-in permission based advertising in that segment. The second factor is that the mGinger team is a great team. The third factor is the traction - there are close to 1 million subscribers. Also, the change in market dynamics: when I turn on a spam filter, I don’t receive advertsing. That’s what the Do Not Call registry is doing. As a marketer, I can sign up with a network like mGinger, and I get advertisements that interest me. mGinger is building a directory of consumers. I can’t comment on the valuation.

There other advertising models like 160by2 for free messaging and even (Rajesh Jain’s) MyToday that is a publishing based model...Why the push advertising model like mGinger’s?
All of these things can be done. mGinger is not a one product company. When advertisers look for a platform, they consider: (a) Content Compositition, (b) Cost of Campaign and (c) Measurability. We think mGinger provides this value, and importantly, it has traction.

...Which other sectors interest you?
We’re interested in essentially consumer services - nano technology, clean tech, IT enabled retail entertainment. Reva, Komli, MChek (mobile payments) and Live Media are among our investments. Also SeventyMM, which a combination of NetFlix and FedEx. The entry of Reliance in the online home video segment validates the opportunity.

Arun Natarajan is the Founder & CEO of Venture Intelligence, the leading provider of information and networking services to the private equity and venture capital ecosystem in India. View free samples of Venture Intelligence newsletters and reports.

Co. that makes "water out of thin air"

The Mint has a profile of Chennai-based economist-turned-entrepreneur S.S.Sivakumar whose Akash Ganga International is seeking to help solve the city's chronic water problems through its unique device.
The scientific basis behind Sivakumar’s air-to-water conversion is the heat exchange process: In this case, it involves sucking in air from the atmosphere and blowing it over cold gas resulting in the creation of water (in much the same way, condensate, or water, forms on the outside of the windows of a heated room in winter or an air-conditioned room in summer).

...By mid-2004, Sivakumar and his team worked out how to make water from air. AGL invested in a modest 3,000 sq. ft manufacturing facility and started rolling out its products. Priced between Rs9,200 (for an 8-litre version) to Rs42,500 (for a 120-litre one), the machines were powered by electricity, and sold through stores that sold consumer durables such as television sets, washing machines and refrigerators. The Akash Ganga machines produced a litre of water at an average cost of Rs0.80 a litre, but, surprisingly, found little success. The company was unable to sell the product as it lacked the resources to market the product on a larger scale.

...Since the process of converting air to water results in a drop in temperature (one reason why some air conditioners leak water), AGI has pitched its products as a three-in-one as the company terms it: an airconditioner, water creator, and air cleanser.

Arun Natarajan is the Founder & CEO of Venture Intelligence, the leading provider of information and networking services to the private equity and venture capital ecosystem in India. View free samples of Venture Intelligence newsletters and reports.

December 01, 2007

GPS based navigation services

Businessworld has an article on the market for GPS-enabled navigation services.
Until last year, Hyderabad-based SatNav Technologies was the only vendor of GPS devices. Since then, other companies have also entered the market with their own products. These include GPS-enabled mobile phones, personal digital assistants (PDAs) with built-in GPS receivers and other PNDs.

...MapmyIndia’s online maps are now used by several organisations such as Yahoo! India, Yatra.com and even India’s Election Commission. This September, the company introduced a PND for about Rs 22,000. It also launched several new navigation products. These include new PNDs, free-to-download navigation software and maps for mobile phones and PDAs, and a Web-based SMS service for directions.

...One company that promises to revolutionise the industry is Nokia. Two of its phones, the N95 and the E90, have built-in GPS capabilities . A third device is in the offing. “Navigation has the potential to surpass any other service, based on consumer need alone,” says Devinder Kishore, Nokia’s marketing director in India. Nokia’s recent moves show just that. According to media reports, the company will spend as much as $8 billion (Rs 32,000 crore) to buy NavTeq, the world’s largest digital mapping company. “If Nokia has its way, it will have GPS in most of its devices in two years,” says Canalys’s Jones.

Arun Natarajan is the Founder & CEO of Venture Intelligence, the leading provider of information and networking services to the private equity and venture capital ecosystem in India. View free samples of Venture Intelligence newsletters and reports.

Taking banking to migrant laborers

Businessworld has an article on an interesting experiment by Axis Bank along with an NGO.
Anwar is one of the nearly 1,500 urban labourers who have joined a technology-assisted financial inclusion programme started by Basix, which describes itself as a livelihood promotion institution. The project, in collaboration with Axis Bank, provides basic, no-frills banking services to poor migrant workers. Basix and Axis Bank have also started a pilot remittance project to help migrant labourers in East Delhi transfer money quickly to dependents in Muzaffarpur in Bihar.

...Basix and Axis Bank are conducting their experiment in financial inclusion in the eastern part of Delhi, home to the capital’s largest slum. The area is populated largely with immigrant workers from remote hamlets in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. “Most of the people who have enrolled for the pilot project are those who make a living as rag pickers, rickshaw pullers, house maids and auto rickshaw drivers,” says Preeti Sahai, who spearheads Basix’s programmes in Delhi. “These people earn very little and, until now, did not have a way to save.”

...Basix field staff physically verify addresses and job details of prospective customers. The staff then fill out the account opening forms for the bank. Basix agents keep making rounds of their respective localities so that customers can meet them to transact business. There is also a local branch office. The field agents carry three devices — a mobile phone and a mini receipt printer. These devices have smart-card sensors and a smart-card scanner with a biometric fingerprint reader to authenticate the ownership of a card as the person who wishes to make the transaction.


Arun Natarajan is the Founder & CEO of Venture Intelligence, the leading provider of information and networking services to the private equity and venture capital ecosystem in India. View free samples of Venture Intelligence newsletters and reports.