Unitus Seed Fund, an India-focused venture capital fund investing in companies serving the masses, is planning to invest in 16 companies in India over the next 18 months, according to its co-founder and managing director Will Poole. The $23-million, Sebi-registered fund, based out of Bengaluru and Seattle, has so far invested in 16 companies, including four education firms (Hippocampus Learning Centres, iSTAR, Curiositi and Cue Learn) and four healthcare companies including Welcare Telemed and Address Health. “We have already invested in 16 companies and would like to approximately double it over the next two years. Obviously, one big area that we are betting on is education and the other is healthcare. Other sectors we target include mobile-on-demand services, and retail and distribution,” he told Business Standard. Unitus Seed Fund, which announced its first investments in India in February 2012, will exhaust its existing fund within two years from now.
It will be raising another fund, starting next year, Poole said, while declining to spell out the quantum of the fundraising. Stating that India is a highly-desirable market and it is good time to invest now, Poole said with the new government at the Centre driving appropriate changes at the economical level will increase the overall business climate. “Indian entrepreneurs are very eager to take advantage of the growing economy. They are hungry for seed capital and that’s where we and other investors come in,” he said. He, however, said that there was no well-deserved culture of entrepreneurial mentorship (one entrepreneur helping another to be successful) in India. LabinApp, Math Adventures to pitch Unitus for Rs 1 crore seed investment Meanwhile, Unitus on April 1, 2015, announced LabinApp, a Hubli-based company that developed a 3D interactive virtual laboratory tool focusing on heuristic approach of understanding science, as the winner, and Bengaluru-based Math Adventures as the runner-up of the first of its three education competitions ‘StartEdu 1A’. Besides winning Rs 5 lakh each, LabinApp and Math Adventures will have the opportunity to pitch Unitus at its Bengaluru office for a potential Rs 1-crore seed investment. Poole said the second competition ‘1B’ will be held on April 24, while the third contest starts with applications opening on June 1. As many as 400 educational technology firms have launched in the past 10 years. Unitus Seed Fund believes that upcoming ‘edupreneurs’ need expert mentoring, incubation services, seed investments and networking community to prepare to scale and meet the challenges and opportunities in Indian education, it said. “StartEdu is on the look out to identify, mentor, incubate and ultimately invest in the most-promising early-stage education startups,” Poole said.