The Indian market has become a target for global entrepreneurs to invest in local startup companies who are capable of providing financial momentum in the business as well as technological advancements. Microsoft Ventures is working on the similar track as a strategy to reenter the Indian market.
Peggy Johnson, global vice-president, Microsoft said, “We look largely around our core ambitions — cloud infrastructure, AI, machine learning (ML) and connectivity. But India is very unique because the productivity here is mobile only. We have learnt a lot and look forward to learning more. We generally focus on Series A and B (funding), with a little bit of seed. But largely Series A and B and it is anywhere between $2 million and $10 million… It will be part of our global corpus.”
Further commenting on the venture capital (VC) group in India, Johnson said, “Basically, we lacked a fund before. When the companies graduated from accelerator we did not have the ability to invest in them. So now we will have that option. We have that option in the US, in India.”
MD of Inventus, Samir Kumar added that corporate venture capital firms in general are not the preferred option for most entrepreneurs. Typically, the corporate VCs have employees and they can shift roles or jobs. On the other hand, a VC will have a fund manager who is long term. If an entrepreneur wants to check on a VC, he can always get reference from another entrepreneur who has raised funds from it.
Microsoft Venture’s team had a solid track record of assembling investors who are interested in backing the upcoming small scale start-up companies. Johnson said, “I had freedom to build the team from scratch. We did not have a number of resources. When I spoke to people who run it for me, I told them we need to have diversity. What it produced is one of the most diverse VC community. There is a real business impact to diversity and I think this is a great example of that.”
Till date, Microsoft Ventures has provided financial backup to over 45 startup companies globally. The tech giant is now focusing on those companies who are working on autonomous vehicles, Internet of Things (IoT) and blockchain technologies where huge amount data is generated thereby bringing in potential customers.
Peggy Johnson has played a crucial role in making remarkable changes in the business operations and relocating its set-up from Redmond to Silicon Valley. Currently, Microsoft Ventures are based in New York, London, Tel Aviv, Israel and now in India. Nagraj Kashyap, former executive of Qualcomm, has been appointed to head the operations.