When digital marketer Atul Hegde and industrialist Sudhir Menon collaborated, they brought the rain for early-stage startups. This alliance gave rise to a venture firm called Rainmaker Ventures, which would invest in early-stage, as well as mentor them. The firm recently closed its maiden $50 Mn VC fund.
Sudhir is the chairman and MD of Mumbai-based Dorf Ketal Chemicals India, while Atul was previously the CEO of Ignitee Digital Services – a Mumbai-based advertising and marketing agency, which is a part of Malaysia-based Astro Group funded TOTHENEW ventures.
We caught up with Atul for an exclusive chat on Rainmaker Ventures, its modus operandi and future plans. Here are the edited excerpts:
Inc42: Why did you and Sudhir decide to come up with Rainmaker Ventures?
Atul: If one observes the startup ecosystem for the past several years, one will notice how most startups fail. There could be several factors for this – the biggest being the inability of hands-on experience. While capital infusion plays a vital role in the formation of any startup, mentoring is extremely crucial as well. That’s where Rainmaker Ventures comes into the picture. Sudhir and I decided to create a value establishment that would not only invest financially but also invest time and experience. Our vision is to bring on board several leaders who are expert in their own field to join our mentoring board, along with Sudhir and myself.
In a nutshell, Rainmaker Ventures is not just a venture fund. We are an establishment that is here to build real businesses in a virtual world.
Inc42: Why move from digital marketing to venture investments?
Atul: As part of the TOTHENEW group, we incubated a lot of new ventures in-house and also worked with many startups to help build their brand & businesses. It seemed as a natural progression to become a full-time entrepreneur and work in the startup space to nurture new businesses. Also, I found a perfect partner in Sudhir, who has scaled a global enterprise from scratch and now is looking to nurture future global entrepreneurs.
Inc42: What are the future plans for Rainmaker Ventures?
Atul: We are very excited to work with and mentor startups with compelling ideas. We are already in the process of evaluating a few. If all goes well, we would be announcing our first investment before 2015 comes to a close. Simultaneously, we are also identifying corporate honchos who could join us as Rainmakers. We are looking at prominent names across industries. The operations will focus on four key markets – India, US, Singapore (Southeast Asia) and Brazil.
Inc42: What kind of startups will you be focusing on for investments?
Atul: At Rainmaker Ventures we like to believe that we are sector agnostic as of now. Currently, we are evaluating proposals across sectors like FMCG, Health care, education, travel & fintech. Having said that, we will identify and work with startups that have a significant mobile play.
Inc42: How many companies will you be targeting in the first year and what will be the ticket size?
Atul: Our initial plan is to invest in around 10-12 startups in the first year. Most of our investments would be anywhere between $200K to $1.5 Mn. There will be outliers for sure and the investment size can be significantly increased for that.
Inc42: What qualities will you be looking for in your mentors or rainmakers?
Atul: Our Rainmakers will come from sectors that we invest in, professionals who have played leadership roles in their respective careers and are now looking to either add a new dimension to their professional career or looking for a full time opportunity in the startup space.
Inc42: What are your expansion plans?
Atul: We should announce our next fund in 6-8 months’ time.
Earlier this week, Mumbai-based Venture Catalysts (VCats) has launched itself as India’s first Seed Investment & Innovation platform. The platform will provide venture fund, co-working facility, angel network and post-investment support to boost startups in their early stage of growth. VCats is conceptualised, Dr. Apoorv Ranjan Sharma – Executive Vice President at VentureNursery, Anil Jain – Director at Money Plus Finvest Pvt Ltd, Anuj Golecha – Partner at Banshi Jain & Associates and Gaurav Jain – Associate at GenNext Ventures.