Posts tagged Kumar Shiralagi
Posts tagged Kumar Shiralagi
I started the week with a Monday morning meeting with a disarming Venture Capitalist, Kumar Shiralagi. Kumar is a Partner with IndoUS Venture Partners, a VC firm that is focused on early stage investments in India, and has backed some very interesting start-ups like Via, Myntra, Attero, SnapDeal, etc. Despite the fact that Kumar and I happen to be neighbors, and his wife Kalpana and I are good friends and yoga mates, it’s only now that I got to meet Kumar.
First things first. Whitefield + ITPL is a bad combination at anytime of the day, leave alone Monday morning, and by the time I made my way into Kumar’s office I was, like, god, I should have waited for a month, a year, anytime, but met him closer home!! But then, the welcoming fresh bowl of watermelon and pineapple (nice, isn’t it?!) in his office changed my mood instantly. I must mention here that the IndoUS office is a refreshing change from the usual glass and plastic VC offices we see all the time.
It is organized in a very informal way with nice artifacts vying to catch your attention. The fruits + interiors kind of make you feel that this one has a strong Indian DNA and is definitely not a “me too” copy of the West.
So it made sense when Kumar mentioned that their second fund would be exclusively India focused. I have always believed that India, and most of the developing world, need to evolve our own models when it comes to investing, building start-ups and identifying leadership skills. Not a bad idea to start with the office itself.
Kumar also is a very different profile from the traditional Indian VC. He has a strong technology background with a PhD and 23 patents to his name, that too in hard core semi-conductor device fabrication. He has paid his dues with a decade-plus of work experience in Motorola, followed by Lytek, his own start-up in Arizona, and then moving on to a corporate venture fund like INTEL Capital, before launching his own fund with IndoUS. Very unassuming, and down to earth, Kumar describes his journey thus: “I did Engineering at NITK(Surathkal), worked at LRDE and then went to Arizona State for PhD; Worked at Motorola, did MBA, and then did my own start-up with INTEL Capital as one of the investors; Decided to move to India, and INTEL Capital offered me the role to head their India office; Then Vani, an old friend from ASU days and Vinod from being on Boards together, called me to join them, and IndoUS happened.” Hard to believe that you can transform yourself so many times in one lifetime! Makes me wonder if he would still pull some more rabbits out of his hat, or is Venture Capital going to be the final stop?
Kumar says the fund raising environment is tough today, and he should know better than anybody else since he should be done raising his second fund anytime now, I guess. If this is the case for somebody who has had a very successful track record to show with the first fund, I wonder what it would be for the many VCs with patchy records. Tells me that a second VC shake-up is well on its way. No wonder we are already seeing some movements in the VC ranks.
Kumar believes in being very engaged with his companies to the extent that some of his investees even mention that he supports like a co-founder in their early stages. Again not surprising when you see his background. He says that Indian entrepreneurs are no different from ones anywhere else in the world. The execution part becomes more challenging as they have to grapple with infrastructure limitations, archaic laws and bureaucracy. ( In India we run steeple chases - sprints and marathons are for wussies:) ). But then, they have a little less to worry about when a FIDE ranked Chess player like Kumar (Yes he is that too, and in his words, that is another fluke!!!) is working by their side!!
Nice meeting you Kumar, and I will still keep a watch for those rabbits for sure!