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July 03, 2005

BlueRun Ventures pitches to early-stage cos. in India

I was at the Nokia Growth Partners and BlueRun Ventures (BRV) sponsored TiE event in Bangalore last week. Given the almost complete drying up of early-stage VC investments in Indian companies (ie, not including the cross-border companies) over the last 2-3 years, it was a refreshing change to see a VC firm actively pitching itself to Indian tech companies and calling itself - proudly and clearly - an EARLY-STAGE investor.

Here's wishing a warm welcome to BlueRun. May your moves catalyze other Silicon Valley firms who have so far dipped their toes in the Indian market via late-stage investments, move towards early-stage companies as well.

Extracts from a Business Line report on BlueRun's press meet:
"We are looking for one to two investments in India a year," said Mr John Gardner, founding partner of BRV, a venture fund that focuses on early stage companies in the IT, mobile, and consumer electronics markets.

...BRV, which started its India operations last year, has invested in Nevis Networks, a Pune-based start-up that focuses on developing new class of enterprise security solutions. BRV, formerly known as Nokia Venture Partners, has close to $1 billion under management. Mr Sujit Banerjee, head of BRV in India said the firm was pursuing a few more serious opportunities and was expecting to finalise one or two investments.

BRV has added two senior members to its India team. Mr Vasudev Bhandarkar, former CEO of Unimobile, has joined as Venture Partner, while Mr Vineet Buch, co-founder and CTO of systems management software provider Karient, has joined as Principal.

UPDATE: Not only is BlueRun Ventures keen to make early stage investments in India, it is also willing to commit $2 million or less as first round investments. The firm would even be ready to invest in chunks of $500,000 as long as it finds the right start-ups and management teams, BRV Venture Partner Vasudev Bhandarkar told me at a follow-up meeting in the Bay Area. Bhandarkar is very excited by the quality of the business plans that have already been submitted to the firm by start-ups in India.

This approach is again a refreshing change from the "we can't invest less than $5 million" that entrepreneurs in India get to hear so often from other VC firms.

Arun Natarajan is the Editor of TSJ Media, which tracks venture capital activity in India and Indian-founded companies worldwide. View sample issues of TSJ Media's Venture Intelligence India newsletters and reports.