Unperturbed by the funding slowdown and macroeconomic headwinds, Amazon Smbhav Venture Fund plans to continue to invest in Indian startups in 2023 and beyond
Launched in April 2021, the fund was focused on SMB digitisation, agritech innovation, and healtech but is now looking to invest in new sectors
In an interaction with Inc42, Abhijeet Muzumdar, head of Amazon Smbhav Venture Fund, shared the vision of the fund, opportunities it provides to the startups, and more
At a time when the funding winter has hit the Indian startup ecosystem hard, ecommerce giant Amazon’s maiden $250 Mn venture fund, Amazon Smbhav Venture Fund, has expanded its focus to also invest in Indian startups in agritech, healthcare, gaming, and electric vehicle (EV) sectors.
The fund was launched in April 2021 to invest in early-stage Indian startups. At the time of its launch, the ecommerce giant said that it was focused on three priority areas – SMB digitisation, agritech innovation, and healtech.
The fund launch coincided with Amazon’s announcement to bring 1 Mn local shops online by 2025.
The 18-month-old fund has so far invested in five startups, including house of brands unicorn The Good Glamm Group and investment tech startup smallcase. The fund, which is not backed by any venture capital firm or investors, is focussed on funding startups that help in digitisation of micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs), which is also the core strategy of the ecommerce giant in India.
Unperturbed by the funding slowdown and macroeconomic headwinds, Amazon Smbhav Venture Fund will continue to invest in Indian startups in 2023 and beyond, its head Abhijeet Muzumdar told Inc42.
In an email interaction, Muzumdar shared the vision of the fund, focus areas, opportunities it provides to the startups, and much more.
Inc42: How much of the $250 Mn corpus of Amazon Smbhav Venture Fund has been invested in startups so far?
Abhijeet Muzumdar: We are about 18 months into the venture fund and have so far invested in five companies across sectors such as financial services, healthcare and consumer tech.
Inc42: Which startups has the fund backed till date?
Abhijeet Muzumdar: In the last 18 months, the fund has backed a number of startups like content-to-commerce company The Good Glamm Group, wealth management firm smallcase, fintech firm M1 Xchange, healthtech startup Fitterfly, and recommerce startup Cashify.
Inc42: Which sectors is the fund focused on?
Abhijeet Muzumdar: Our focus with Amazon Smbhav Venture Fund is to back homegrown startups and brands that are focused on using technology to digitise small businesses, enable universal and quality healthcare access for all using technology, drive technology-led innovation in agriculture to improve farmer productivity and enable them to bring the best of India’s farms to consumers.
Digitisation of small businesses: The venture fund has been designed to invest in startups that are focused on building solutions to empower SMBs to launch, manage, and grow their business online, automate and digitise their operations, and expand their business globally. These investments will help seed and scale up innovation in the sector.
Healthcare: We are excited about startups that are innovating in areas like doctor assistance, telemedicine, ediagnosis, and AI-powered treatment recommendations. We are also looking at areas like digitisation of healthcare service providers like primary care clinics, diagnostics labs, pharmacy value chains, etc. We are excited about innovations in value chain technology that enable healthcare providers to deliver more effective care.
Agritech innovation: We aim to invest in Indian startups that are using technology to bring the best produce to consumers, make agri inputs more accessible to farmers, provide tailored agronomic solutions to farmers to improve productivity, distribute credit and insurance to farmers, and reduce food wastage by building efficient farm to fork supply chains.
In addition, the fund has expanded its focus areas to invest in technology startups focusing on fintech, electrification, ecommerce services, consumer brands, machine learning, gaming, and social media innovators.
The idea is to invest in areas where we can positively influence the proliferation and growth of small businesses. We remain committed to investing behind multiple new and emerging areas that are seeing a high degree of innovation and entrepreneurial energy.
Inc42: What kind of growth opportunities will be available to the startups in which the fund invests?
Abhijeet Muzumdar: The focus of the venture fund is to empower the next generation of innovative, technology-enabled companies led by missionary founders. It is enabling us to continue being a catalyst for Indian founders to execute on their vision.
The startups also get access to global reach, expertise, and a scaled investment team. We believe that the startup ecosystem in India is still in its early stage, and we have only scratched the surface. We believe access to the right support at the right time will be a cornerstone to shaping up the tech and startup potential of the country. We stay committed to unlocking infinite possibilities for India through our investment and resolve for the companies we back.
Inc42: At a time when the global economic slowdown has resulted in a decline in funding, forcing startups to cut costs, will Amazon continue to invest in 2023?
Abhijeet Muzumdar: Absolutely! We are committed to India and are always disciplined in our investment approach irrespective of the macro environment. We try to back companies that have durable business models and can create a lasting impact for customers (be it enterprises, SMBs, or end customers like you and me). We will continue on our path and make investments through 2023 and beyond.
Inc42: Are you also looking at increasing the fund corpus from $250 Mn in the coming period?
Abhijeet Muzumdar: We are focused on execution to identify and invest in exciting startups. Conceptually, we are long-term focused and are invested in India for the long haul. We remain committed to enabling the growth of a strong startup environment in India, including through the fund.