Rahul Chandra, MD, Helion Venture Partners has floated a new venture capital fund called Unitary Helion. It will focus on deals in the financial technology space. Unitary Helion will be a $100 Mn fund and plans to make the first close of the fund by October 2017 at about $40 Mn and will start investing.
Besides family offices, the fund is in talks with “several strategic investors in the financial services space and banks” to raise the initial corpus. The firm plans to add another partner and a principal after the first close.
With Unitary Helion, Chandra plans to invest in early-stage startups. It aims at building a portfolio of 18 to 20 companies by investing $2 Mn-$5 Mn on an average. The fund will invest about half of the corpus in the fintech space, targeting companies that are building different types of payment layers upon which lending services can be built up. Other areas of focus will be digital marketplaces in areas like agriculture, logistics, and healthcare.
Rahul Chandra has roped in Jonathan Hsu, Head of Data Science at Silicon Valley-based venture capital firm Social Capital, as a special advisor. Hsu will help Unitary Helion, which also plans to appoint a data science head, to build in-house data analytics tools for all vertical focus areas. Other advisors on board also include Sanjeev Aggarwal and Ashish Gupta.
Rahul’s move to go solo comes, after Helion Venture Partners, which raised over $600 Mn in funds has stopped new investments since last year. This was because its team decided to go their separate ways. Helion had announced plans to raise its fourth fund of $300 Mn in early 2015, but those plans were put on hold after three of its partners left to form investment firm Stellaris Venture Partners.
Here’s a look at the exodus from Helion over the years:
- In 2014, Kanwaljit Singh, another Helion founding partner quit. He started Fireside Ventures focussed on consumer investments.
- It was in early 2016 that Ritesh Banglani, Alok Goyal, and Rahul Chowdhri split from the firm to start their own venture capital firm, Stellaris Venture Partners. Stellaris announced a first close of $50 Mn in February 2017. The firm plans to raise $100 Mn for its maiden fund. This month, it has raised $10 Mn from investment firm International Financial Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group. The firm has invested in Bengaluru-based SaaS-based performance support startup Whatfix and Gurugram-based mobile B2B marketplace Wydr this year.
- In July 2016, another senior executive at Helion, Dhruv Kapoor, left the firm to join Sistema Asia Fund.
- Senior Managing Director Sanjeev Aggarwal is setting up a venture capital firm with Infosys co-founder Nandan Nilekani to invest in more mature startups, while Ashish Gupta, another senior Managing Director plans to continue making seed investments in a personal capacity. Both Aggarwal and Gupta have worked with Chandra for over a decade and the trio will also continue to manage Helion’s existing portfolio of 35 companies.
Founded in 2006, Gurugram and Mauritius-based Helion Venture Partners is early to mid-stage India-focused venture fund. It invests in technology-based businesses such as ecommerce, online services, mobility, enterprise software and outsourcing. Till date, the firm has partnered with over sixty companies including Housing.com, redbus, MakeMyTrip, TaxiForSure, and Komli.
Rahul Chandra was one of the co-founders of Helion Venture Partners in 2006. Before Helion, he was working in Silicon Valley-based venture capital firm Walden International, prior to which he worked as a banker at Lazard India. Having an experience of 17 years in the venture capital business, Chandra has backed over 30 startups, including legal process outsourcing firm UnitedLex, smartphone-based payments device maker Ezetap and travel app RailYatri.
(This development was first reported in Mint.)