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Vinod Khosla sets up entity in India for start-up incubation

Pradeesh Chandran  |  Bangalore 

Here’s good news for the young and budding entrepreneurs in the country with a social orientation. One of the co-founders of Sun Microsystems, venture capitalist and founder of Khosla Ventures, Vinod Khosla, is planning his first entity outside the US.

Khosla Labs, the new entity, will act as an incubator for start-ups in India. It is expected to start full-fledged operations within six months.

Khosla has hired Srikanth Nadhamuni, Head of at Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), as the CEO of the labs. Nadhamuni was instrumental in building the backbone for India's ambitious UID project ( Aadhaar ) which aims at giving unique identity for 1.2 billion residents. As of now, UIDAI has provided identification numbers to about 200 million residents, and aims to enroll around 400 million by 2014.

According to sources, Khosla Lab will act as a centre to help Indian entrepreneurs develop solutions and businesses primarily focusing on solving the various issues and problems in the country. Khosla does not have any plan to set aside a specific corpus for India. But, through the labs, he will help in creating ventures that can solve issues like social inequality, governance issues and public grievances in the country, they added.

When contacted, Nadhamuni confirmed his resignation from the UIDAI and said all technology needs of UIDAI have been fulfilled and managed service provider who has won the bid to run Aadhaar number repository and its IT infrastructure has the capability of taking the mission further. “I will associate with UIDAI whenever they need me,” he added.

However, he declined to comment on the future plans of Khosla Labs. “We are in an early stage, and have not charted out any plan. It will take a minimum of six months to make a proper plan. We also need to form a team to take Khosla Labs’ mission forward,” he added.

Before joining the UIDAI, Nadhamuni was the Managing Trustee at e-Governments Foundation, a non-profit trust founded by him along with Nandan Nilekani in 2003. It focuses on improving governance and public services delivery in Indian cities using a suite of in-house municipal ERP products.

According to a senior industry person who did not want to be quoted, Vinod Khosla is planning to make his presence felt more by setting up the Labs in India. “We know that Khosla is planning an entity in India through which he is planning to do some exciting stuffs in the country that will address many issues of ours.”

Some of the investments made by Khosla in India in the social sectors include SKS Microfinance, CASHPOR Financial and Technical Services and MokshaYug Access.

At present, the Khosla Labs is operating out of a rented premise in Bangalore. But it is in discussion with real estate developers for finding a location to set up the incubation centre.

Khosla who attended the Nasscom Product Conclave in India last year had interacted with about 10 start-ups to explore opportunities of funding. “India is slowly witnessing changes in the start-up ecosystem and interesting technology products are coming from the country. There are problems to be resolved in the country,” he had told Business Standard in an earlier interaction.

In 2011, Khosla Ventures had raised a new fund worth $1.05 billion for seed investment in the areas of clean tech, IT and internet.


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First Published: Sat, November 10 2012. 15:46 IST