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November 25, 2007

Business Today's Cool Companies listing

Business Today has published its latest annual listing of "hip and happening" companies. This year's list includes a VC firm - APIDC-Ventureast. Other cool companies include two Canaan Partners back companies Cellcast (Mobile VAS) and TechTribe (online business networking).
For a fund that goes by the name of Apidc Venture Capital, its seven partners are anything but old fashioned. One is a blues guitarist who’s done gigs at blues bars in Chicago; another is an amateur bartender who can knock up deadly margaritas and mojitos; the third has an abiding passion for interior decoration, the fourth is a meditation expert, the fifth is a long-distance runner, the sixth has co-founded an art gallery, and the seventh founded a ‘Heart of a Child Foundation’ with Sylvester Stallone as one of its patrons.

But guess what? That’s not the reason why APIDCVC—managed by Sarath Naru, Chandra Shekhar Reddy Kundur, Aditya Kapil, Ramesh Alur, Raghuveer Mendu, Venkatadri Bobba and Siddhartha Das—is on our Cool list this year. Rather, the Hyderabad-based firm is on the list because, despite being a public-private partnership (until last year, the Andhra government owned 49 per cent of the firm, but its stake is down to a token 1 per cent; the rest is owned by Ventureast promoted by the management team), it thinks very differently as a VC. “Our model,” explains Naru, “is very much based on the businesses and technologies that are relevant to India and on having multiple funds with a pioneering focus in each.”

As a result, APIDCVC, which will soon call itself Ventureast, has been the first to launch an incubation fund, the first biotech fund, and the first micro-equity fund. With funds of Rs 1,200 crore ($300 million) under management, APIDCVC may not be the biggest VC firm around. But with investments in small and relatively unknown organisations such as Naturol Bioenergy, Ocean Sparkle, Cecelia Healthcare and Sapala Organics, it bravely goes where most other VCs fear to tread.

Arun Natarajan is the Founder & CEO of Venture Intelligence, the leading provider of information and networking services to the private equity and venture capital ecosystem in India. View free samples of Venture Intelligence newsletters and reports.