Japanese investment giant SoftBank has roped in Norwest Venture Partners’ Sumer Juneja as its country head for India, according to reports in the Indian media. Juneja will lead SoftBank’s next set of bets in India into companies such as Delhivery, FirstCry and Grofers though there’s no official word from SoftBank yet.
An investment banker-turned-VC, Juneja’s most famous investment has been food-tech aggregator Swiggy in which Norwest invested in 2015. He has been on the board of Swiggy from its early days and has helped its founders scale and raise several rounds of funding from investors.
In India since 2009, Juneja has led investments in companies such as Swiggy, Quikr, National Stock Exchange, IndusInd Bank, Sadbhav Engineering, Veritas Finance, and RevX and has exited investments such as Cholamandalam Finance, Shriram City and Yes Bank. In 2014, he was promoted as Principal at Norwest after which he became a director.
Unlike other investors, he has not been an entrepreneur but is strong with numbers, which often helps tech-focused founders. He believes in running as hard as an entrepreneur. Take the Swiggy deal, which he clinched amidst competition from other investors. To close the deal, Juneja had parked himself in Bangalore (he is based in Mumbai) for a week. “I am just happy my stomach held up,” he told YourStory in 2015.
“We met the Swiggy team in December and had two more follow up interactions in January and February. We were following their traction and knew that we wanted to work with this team,’’ he had said in 2015.
While Norwest was finalising its investment in Swiggy in 2015, Juneja accompanied delivery executives on their bikes to check on Swiggy’s customer care and delivery efficacy as part of the due diligence process.
Interestingly, SoftBank had initiated talks with Swiggy in November last year. The Japanese fund also has held several such conversations with Swiggy’s rival, Zomato, starting May 2018 but has yet to finalise its investment in India’s food technology sector.
Juneja has also been actively involved in NVP’s investments in Quikr and the National Stock Exchange while also having served on the boards of Bharti Infratel, IRB Infrastructure Developers, IL&FS Transportation Networks, among others.
A London School of Economics graduate, Juneja worked with Goldman Sachs in London and Hong Kong as an investment banking analyst, driving several merger and acquisition transactions. He was a founding member of the Goldman Sachs’ Asian Special Situations Group in India.
His experience at Goldman included the acquisition of Paladin Resources by Talisman Energy, acquisition of Domnick Hunter by Parker Hannifin and advising Thames Water, a UK water utility, on the divestiture of its international assets valued at over $2 billion.
SoftBank has so far invested about $8 billion in Indian startups and has been searching for the next set of bets in India across vertical e-commerce, logistics and food technology among others
According to reports, the $100-billion SoftBank Vision Fund was evaluating investments worth $200-250 million each in baby and mother care portal FirstCry and logistics player Delhivery. It may also invest $120-150 million hyperlocal grocery start-up Grofers.
SoftBank has a separate team in India headed by former Bharti Airtel chief executive Manoj Kohli for renewable energy unit SB Energy, a three-way joint venture with Foxconn Group and the Bharti Group.
Juneja will work with the team at SoftBank’s Vision Fund and is likely to report to Munish Varma, a London-based partner at SoftBank. Juneja is expected to hire at least one more executive to help manage its India operations, the Mint newspaper reported, quoting a source.
SoftBank, which has invested heavily in India through its $100-billion Vision Fund, has been looking to hire an Indian head. Kabir Misra, who till recently led SoftBank’s India investments, launched RPS Investment Fund, where SoftBank is an anchor investor.
SoftBank’s Masayoshi Son has been the most prolific late-stage investor in India. It has invested in Flipkart, Paytm, online insurance firm Policybazaar, ride-hailing firm Ola, hotel aggregator Oyo and online grocery firm Grofers. SoftBank also benefited from a massive exit at Flipkart, estimated to be at least $4 billion, after the e-commerce firm was acquired by US-based retail giant Walmart.
But its investments in e-commerce firm Snapdeal and online real-estate firm Housing.com did not work out well. According to another estimate, it had struck 24 deals in India committing $7 billion since 2011.