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Pioneering a greenhouse for entrepreneurs

Four of the six firms have already secured series-A funding, while the other two are being piloted

Raghuvir Badrinath  |  Bangalore 

After successfully starting, scaling and exiting four companies — IT&T, CustomerAsset, Marketics and Tutorvista — is fast consolidating his next disruptive platform — parallel entrepreneurship.

“We are not angel investors, nor early-stage venture capitalists. We ideate an opportunity, create a business model, put together a strong team of entrepreneurs, help execute the business plan, bring in our operational expertise, invest early and stay on the board of the companies as co-promoters till we, along with the promoters, plan an exit. The difference between this model and the angels or early-stage VCs (venture capital funds) is while these are hands-on, very few bring operational expertise like we do to the business,” he says.

He should know. Ganesh is one of the best-known serial entrepreneurs the Indian digital segment has seen. Leveraging the internet to the hilt, he is now fine-tuning the new model he, along with his wife Meena Ganesh, helped conceptualise. In case of most angel investments, a clutch of angel investors usually exit after series-A financing. In his case, venture capitalists often buy into a business because of support from Ganesh. Many a time, they insist Ganesh be around on the board. “We quickly scale to a level in which we can tap series-A funding. Once that happens, to an extent, our involvement reduces marginally, while we continue to guide the company with our experience,” he adds.

This is not an easy task; the bandwidth is finite. Ganesh continues to run Tutorvista, despite ceding significant control to Pearson, which had valued the company at about $230 million last year. “As of now, we have initiated this model with six companies and after my complete exit from Tutorvista after January 2014, I think we can add about 10 companies a year,” Ganesh says.

This concept is like a green house for entrepreneurs, where a seed is nurtured into a good sapling before established venture capitals come into grow the sapling into a plant and then onto a tree.

“It is a completely different model. Time will tell how this would pan out. So far, we have been lucky in finding the right team and have nurtured it on to a good platform. Four of the six companies have already secured series-A funding, while the remaining two are being piloted,” he says.

All the six companies are in the e-commerce segment, which rides on consumption in the market. This is a field in which Ganesh can deliver value, given his vast experience. “Entrepreneurs are able to identify with us because of the hands-on value-add we come with. We feel we can create disproportionate value through this business model,” he adds.

First Published: Thu, September 27 2012. 00:52 IST