Why angel investor Rajan Anandan promotes pub culture

Itika Sharma Punit Bengaluru
Google India Managing Director Rajan Anandan's "pub meet-ups" have become landmark. These meet-ups, however, are neither music concerts nor have much to do with alcohol. The term has been coined for the meetings that Anandan has with entrepreneurs at restaurants and lounges across the several cities he visits. It is perhaps through these meet-ups that he manages to engage with entrepreneurs and look at investment opportunities, despite having the challenging job of heading internet major Google's most significant market.

Known to be one of the most prolific and active angel investors in the Indian start-up space, Anandan holds a portfolio of about 40 investments. Besides India, where he started making investments in 2006, Anandan has been an active investor in his native country, Sri Lanka, as well as in the US.

"As head of Google India, Rajan (Anandan) is constantly on the road. His super busy schedule has never stopped him from finding time to meet founders before and after his meetings, in the late evenings and over the weekends," says Ravi Gururaj, chairman of Nasscom's product council who has known Anandan for years and has also made a few investments together with him. "During his pub meet-ups, he sponsors the tab for an informal meet-up of founders in the city he is visiting."

 
The former managing director of Microsoft India, and vice-president and country general manager at Dell India, Anandan holds a masters in manufacturing systems engineering from Stanford University and a bachelors degree in mechanical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, according to his profile on professional networking site LinkedIn.

When he is not at the pub meet-ups, Anandan is busy connecting with entrepreneurs through Google's messaging application, Hangout, where he engages in 15-20 minute interactions. "He is a quick decision-maker and he has built a strong time-efficiency system," says iSpirt founding member Sharad Sharma, who has also made several investments jointly with Anandan.

"Passionate", "tech savvy" and "friendly" are what Anandan's friends and business peers describe him as. His best quality as an investor, according several entrepreneurs in whose companies Anandan has invested in, is "maintaining a healthy" level of involvement in the business.

It is this "healthy involvement" that helped Santosh Panda, the founder of events platform Explara, in 2012-13. The company, in which Anandan has made an angel investment, was focused on a sales-based model that was giving some results but not to the desired level. "Anandan advised us that we should instead look at a marketing model where our investments would be much lesser and that we would get a lot more visibility," recalls Panda. "That has made a very significant difference to our business."

Panda adds that despite Anandan's job as Google's India head and his involvement with scores of start-ups, he is always reachable. "Whenever I have reached out to him, he takes out time to hear me out. He offers very valuable insights and I know I can reach out to him whenever I need," says Panda.

Gururaj, who regularly meets and interacts with several angel investors as part of his role at Nasscom, calls Anandan an "ideal angel". "He is not just tech savvy, but is also founder-friendly," says Gururaj. "He thinks big and has a great track record. He is an active deal maker and with his clear investment thesis, he decides and moves fast. Also, he writes decent-sized cheques. What more could an entrepreneur expect?"

ANGEL'S WARDROBE
PREFERRED SECTOR: Technology
WITHIN TECHNOLOGY: Cloud, internet, and mobile, among others.
INVOLVEMENT IN INVESTED FIRMS: Writes decent-sized cheques; friendly & accessible; helps in networking & strategic decisions; no micro-management; allows him to manage a large number of investments

KEY INVESTMENTS
  • Capillary: Customer engagement management solutions
  • Druva: Data management solutions provider
  • Appknox: Mobile application vulnerability detection
  • POPxo: Fashion and lifestyle website for women
  • Wishberry: crowdfunding platform
  • SocialCops: Technology data company
  • LetsVenture: Online fund-raising platform
  • Avaz: App for making speech therapy more effective
  • Ciafo: Consumer web products startup
  • IntelloCut: Material planning and optimisation software
  • TravelKhana.Com: Platform for food delivery for train travelers
  • Instamojo: Helps small businesses collect payments instantly
  • Explara: Events platform
  • iDubba: Offers television schedule
  • Myshaadi.in: Online portal offering wedding related services
  • Aurality: personal mobile radio
  • authorSTREAM.com: enables presenters to upload & share presentations online

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First Published: Dec 18 2014 | 12:44 AM IST

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