Rohan Malhotra and Arjun Malhotra left their jobs in London and Silicon Valley to explore opportunities in India in late 2013. A year later, the brothers launched Investopad to connect with local startup founders and product managers and build a community to exchange insight. Somewhere in the journey, they wrote early checks to social-commerce startup Meesho, which now counts Facebook as an investor; Autonomic, which got acquired by Ford; and HyperTrack, among others. Now they are ready to be full-time VCs.
On Monday, they announced Good Capital, a VC fund that will invest in early-stage startups. Through Good Capital’s maiden fund of $25 million, the brothers plan to invest in about half a dozen startups a year and provide between $100,000 to $2 million in their seed and Series A financing rounds, they told TechCrunch in an interview last week.
“Through Investopad, we helped startup founders raise money, provided guidance, and helped them find customers. We did a ton of events, and learned about the market,” said Arjun, who worked at Capricorn Investment Group and also acted in the 2014 blockbuster Bollywood title “Highway.”
Investopad’s first fund portfolio stands at a gross IRR of 138.3%, and nine of its 12 investments have realised returns, with every dollar invested already returned, the brothers said.
Good Capital will focus on investing in startups that are building solutions that address users who have come online in India for the first time in the last two years, they said.
“We don’t have laser-focus on a particular sector,” said Rohan, who previously worked as a sports agent in the talent management business. “Our primary focus is to help startups that are taking a bottom-up approach.”
One example of such a startup is Meesho, a social-commerce startup that has amassed more than 2 million users who are engaging with the platform to sell products across India.
In a statement, Vidit Aatrey, co-founder and CEO of Meesho, said, “Rohan and Arjun were our earliest investors. They have a phenomenal global network of entrepreneurs, operators and investors. They helped us early on with introductions to such people; who brought not only capital but, more importantly, valuable operational inputs which helped us learn quickly and find product-market fit faster. While we’ve grown from 2 people to over 1,000+ at Meesho, they remain close confidants!”
The VC fund has completed its first close of $12 million from Symphony International Holdings, a host of European family offices and a number of other Silicon Valley entrepreneurs.
Sundeep Madra, CEO of Ford X; Yogen Dalal, partner emeritus at the Mayfield Fund and founder of Glooko; and Dinesh Moorjani, managing director of Comcast Ventures and founder of Hatch Labs and Tinder, will serve as advisors to Good Capital.
“Rohan and Arjun have a unique ability to identify trends and bring together founders and investors to go after the unique problems that India needs to have solved. They operate with a sense of urgency and innovation which is a major key at the seed-stage,” said Madra, who has invested in companies such as Uber and Zenefits.
The fund has also set up an investment committee whose members are Sanjay Kapoor, former CEO of Airtel and now a senior advisor at BCG; Rahul Khanna, formerly a managing partner at Cannan Partners and now founder of Trifecta Capital; and Kashyap Deorah, a serial entrepreneur who is currently building HyperTrack.
Good Capital has also already made two investments: SimSim, a video-based e-commerce platform that is trying to replicate the experience consumers have in offline stores, and Spatial, a cross-reality platform that allows people to collaborate through augmented reality. Garrett Camp, a founder of Uber and Expa, and Samsung Next have also invested in Spatial.
The VC fund is also interested in funding business-to-business startups, though they say these startups would ideally be building solutions for overseas markets. “There we are generally targeting makers, developers and designers, rather than solving problems for heavy-duty sales businesses.”
The arrival of Good Capital should help the Indian startup community, which today has to rely on a handful of VC funds that invest in early-stage startups. “Conventionally, funds have targeted the top of the pyramid by exploring visible opportunities and replicated US companies and models,” said Moorjani in a statement.
“In contrast, Good Capital’s first principles thinking applied to India’s larger economy, which is coming online at scale with a supporting ecosystem for the first time, has been refreshing to see. The team is beyond talented,” he added.
Even as Indian tech startups raised a record $10.5 billion in 2018, early-stage startups saw a decline in the number of deals they participated in and the amount of capital they received.
Early-stage startups participated in 304 deals in 2018 and raised $916 million in funds last year, down from $988 million they raised from 380 rounds in 2017 and $1.096 billion they raised from 430 deals the year before, research firm Venture Intelligence told TechCrunch.
As for Investopad, the brothers said they have hired a number of people who will now continue its operation.