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May 19, 2011

Profile of Wonder Grass

From the Economic Times profile of Bamboo-based building systems company, Wonder Grass:
“Using bamboo to build structures is not rocket science. Bamboo is renewable, cost-effective and appropriate material to be used for housing segment. It is available in abundance in India,” said Vaibhav Kaley, co-founder of Wonder Grass, who started the firm along with his younger brother Nachiket Kaley in December 2007.

...Industry experts say bamboo solutions for the high-end luxury and rural housing market forms a 41,875-crore market. Almost half of this opportunity includes supplying structures such as green-wall panels, pergolas, rooftops, cottages to high net worth individuals, corporates and resorts.

The other half of this market comprises of making affordable houses in rural areas, for corporate foundations, NGOs and during disasterrelief initiatives .

“The rural end-user gets a new home built by Wonder Grass for 1.25 Lakh in only 15 days, which includes integrated sanitation, water and lighting. They have to pay at least 30% more labour for traditional brick-and-mortar house, which also excludes these services,” says Robert Moore, who works for Villgro Innovation Foundation, which is currently incubating Wonder Grass.

Arun Natarajan is the Founder & CEO of Venture Intelligence, the leading provider of data and analysis on private equity, venture capital and M&A deals in India. View free samples of Venture Intelligence newsletters and reports. Email the author at

The right recipe for a profitable speciality restaurant

From the Mint article
The choice of cuisine is equally critical. The cuisine hierarchy goes something like this—Indian, followed by Chinese and Italian. “Italian has broadened to include European and Chinese has grown to pan-Asian but the basic hierarchy remains the same,” says Raman Macker, whose company Dish Hospitality owns chains such as Tasty Tangles and Sancho’s, besides Aurus, in Mumbai.

...For those looking for a high number of walk-ins, malls are a good option...A.D. Singh, who opened his Japanese restaurant Ai at Metropolitan mall in New Delhi, concedes, however, that malls can be a tricky option since the crowd that comes there has to be aligned with the kind of restaurant you want to open.

...While at most spaces the staff will summon the manager for every issue, at Indigo they are allowed to take any decision related to enhancing the dining experience of the guests—they can even decide not to charge for a dish that diners may seem unhappy with, even if they have not complained. This empowerment brings in that critical personal touch that differentiates service from hospitality. But retaining the staff is a challenge at every level.

...The mood you cater to will dictate your ambience, menu and pricing. Be clear on what you want to deliver and deliver what you promise: “If people suddenly see a band playing at Aurus on Monday night, diners will just be confused,” says Macker.

Arun Natarajan is the Founder & CEO of Venture Intelligence, the leading provider of data and analysis on private equity, venture capital and M&A deals in India. View free samples of Venture Intelligence newsletters and reports. Email the author at

Profile of

From the Business Today profile of the company which enables academic admission applications to go online:
The catch is that those applying have to pay extra if they want the convenience of the online route. Most institutions charge for the paper application forms they distribute; the portal charges an additional 4.9 per cent - or Rs 30 whichever is higher - per form filled online.

...Anil Joshi at venture capital firm Mumbai Angels, however, points out that Shah's business model has no intellectual property attached to the product and can be easily copied by competitors. Shah believes the institutions he has signed on will not leave him in a hurry. "Getting them to even listen to you is difficult," he says. "Once I am already in with a free product, it will be five times tougher for someone to replace me."

NoPaperForms is also working on a business-to-consumer platform to engage Facebook-savvy students and spread its brand virally. This platform will let students post updates and share information. If the model scales, as Shah expects it to, the possibilities for it are endless.

Arun Natarajan is the Founder & CEO of Venture Intelligence, the leading provider of data and analysis on private equity, venture capital and M&A deals in India. View free samples of Venture Intelligence newsletters and reports. Email the author at

May 18, 2011

In praise of Boutique I-Banks

From the Economic Times article:
These are the ones who left the suffocating process-driven culture at giant firms, such as Morgan, Merrill and Goldman. They build relationships with entrepreneurs for years and get to experiment with ideas. Know them, identify what they want, comfort them and say they could be a lot bigger than they are, with a banker's advice. Boutique banks, such as MAPE, Collins Stewart Inga , Spark Capital and RippleWave Equity are thriving in a market where mergers and acquisitions last year doubled.

Some successful boutique firms such as Avendus Capital and Edelweiss are expanding into full-service financial firms taking their expertise to public markets such as initial public offerings. "Our approach is not transaction oriented but relationship oriented," said Jacob Mathew, managing director at MAPE Advisory.

"We keep going back to clients with ideas. We compete with top bankers with large balance sheets but we don't want to become large for the sake of it. We want to offer personalised services to our clients without compromising on quality," he added.

Arun Natarajan is the Founder & CEO of Venture Intelligence, the leading provider of data and analysis on private equity, venture capital and M&A deals in India. View free samples of Venture Intelligence newsletters and reports. Email the author at

Opening at Venture Intelligence: Head – Research Services

We are looking to hire a suitable candidate for the following position:

Designation: Head – Research Services

Location: Chennai

Reporting to: MD & CEO

Roles and Responsibilities

o High quality of research that enrich the Venture Intelligence product offerings
- Provide hands-on leadership for a team of analysts to create and update financial transaction and valuation information in user-friendly format.
o Assigns daily workload to analysts and follows through on all tasks assigned to the team. Contributes to production as needed.
o Ensures deliveries are on-time and conform to quality standards.
o Accountable for performance of the team and effectiveness of production processes. Responsible for intra-team policies, procedure, and workflow.
o Assist in recruiting new team members by evaluating candidates
o Implements training for new hires and existing team members as necessary
o Develop new features/products for existing customer segments
- Should be able to interface with programming (internal/outsourced) to develop new features, products, etc
o Develop new target segments (by working with the BizDev team)

Ideal candidate would have 10-12 years experience in the financial services/research domain with at least 3 years in a start-up environment.

Must Haves
• Keenness for an Entrepreneurial leadership role
o Excellent coordination, organization and multi-tasking skills
o Strong problem solving capabilities with hands-on approach
o Self motivated & ability to work in an unstructured environment
o Act independently to manage projects from start to finish
o Ability to communicate with people at different levels of the organization
o Exceptional oral and written communications skills.
o High familiarity with corporate finance instruments ; PE/VC deal terms and M&A structures
o Understanding of Indian market place
o Interest in hiring and grooming a research team

o CA / MBA Degree
o Hired & managed a team of research analysts before
o Familiarity with international database products
o Quantitative Modelling & Familiarity with Alternative Investments Analysis
o Exposure to Indian market place – offerings / pricing/ sales strategy
o Technology savvy – ability to create specs and work with programmers for new feature/product creation

Interested candidates can email their resumes to

May 11, 2011

ET NOW launches ‘Super Angels’ Series

Edited extracts from the Press Release:

24-hr English business news channel ET NOW has launched ‘Super Angels’, a path breaking series which will witness start-ups raising funds on national television, for the first time. The show will feature 20 of India’s most innovative start-ups and 4 of India’s most influential investors along with a national audience who will choose India’s next ‘Super Entrepreneur’.

The 4 Super Angels on the show are Mahesh Murthy, Managing partner; Seed Fund, Vishal Gondal, Founder; Indiagames, Harshal Shah, Founder; Reliance Ventures and Sanjay Parthasarthy; Entrepreneur and Angel investor. The show will be anchored by Sudhir Syal, Editor; ‘Starting Up’.

Every week one start-up will make a pitch to an investor; the TV audience will then be given a chance to vote for the pitch through SMS, email and Facebook. Five months, after the completion of 20 start-up pitches, the audience votes and the investor’s votes will be collated to choose the final 8 Start-Ups, which will then make their pitch in the grand finale. These finalists will have the opportunity to raise funds between Rs.50 Lakhs & Rs. 2 Crores on the show live. During the 5 month period, the start-ups will be mentored by entrepreneurs handpicked by the show’s Mentoring Partners – ‘TIE’.

The series premiers on 10th May at 10:30 PM and will be aired every Tuesday at 10:30 PM with repeats on Saturdays at 10:30 PM and Sundays at 10:00 AM.

The promo video for the show can be viewed here:

May 03, 2011

Deal Alert: Financial software firm Agility raises $5.7 M from IDG Ventures, others

From the press release:

BFSI software products company, Agile Financial Technologies (, announces the successful completion of its US$ 5.7mn Series A financing, led by IDG Ventures India (IDGVI). This funding will enable Agile Financial Technologies (Agile FT) to surge ahead with its organic and inorganic growth plans and expansion into new markets.

With a rapidly growing footprint in emerging and frontier markets in the Middle East, Africa and Asia, Agile FT has now embarked on its next level of expansion with an enhanced range of pioneering software products especially in the space of Investment Management, Lending Management, Microfinance and Insurance.

Agile FT’s strategy has been successful in delivering its products and services to a growing customer community of leading institutions, leveraging its channel presence across 20 countries.

IDG Ventures India, a US$150 Million technology venture capital fund,helps build category-leading companies from India for the Indian and global markets. T.C.Meenakshisundaram and Hemir Doshi of IDGVI will be joining the board of Agile FT.

Kalpesh Desai, founder & CEO of Agile Financial Technologies, says, “We are extremely proud to partner with IDG Ventures India. From the outset, the IDGVI team has demonstrated an enabling spirit, a keen desire to contribute to our vision and a deep understanding of our business – a rare combination in a financial partner.”

T C Meenakshisundaram, Founder & Managing Director of IDG Ventures India, commented, “The way forward for the Indian IT industry is to move up the value chain and offer home-grown software products for global consumption. We chose to invest in Agile FT given its industry leading team, clear product focus, growing customer base and proven ability to deliver growth far ahead of its peer group of product companies. These are the hallmarks of a market leader and Agile FT has the potential to become a significant player in the BFSI technologies landscape.”

Kalpesh Desai adds, “There are nearly 5,000 BFSI institutions across the regions we cover presently, namely emerging Central & Eastern Europe, India, Asia-Pacific, M.E. & Africa. This represents a multi-billion dollar opportunity with double-digit annual growth. The Agile FT team is well on its way to fulfill its vision of becoming a market leader in the BFSI software product space.”

About Agile Financial Technologies (

Agile Financial Technologies is an emerging leader in the provisioning of software products and services to the Banking, Financial Services and Insurance (BFSI) space. Agile FT has built an enviable software product portfolio that focuses on niche areas of investment management, lending, microfinance and insurance. With a channel presence across 20 countries in Europe, Middle East, Africa and Asia, Agile FT services its customer community by providing local support through its channel partners.

About IDG Ventures India (

IDG Ventures India is a US$150 Million early-stage venture capital fund investing in technology-related product and services companies. The fund is part of IDG Ventures, a global network of technology venture funds with over $3.7 billion under management, over 220 investee companies and 10 offices across Asia and North America. IDG Ventures makes investments on behalf of its Limited Partners, including its principal investor and sponsor, International Data Group (IDG), the world's largest IT media company. By combining the IDG platform - an unparalleled combination of global publishing, market research (IDC), and conferences and exhibition resources - with years of hands-on experience in early-stage company building, IDG Ventures helps its investee companies understand their markets better and penetrate them faster than their competition.

Leading technology companies that IDG Ventures has invested in include BabyCenter, F5 Networks, Netscape, Service Metrics and VA Linux in North America and Baidu, Ctrip, Sohu, Tencent and VinaGame in Asia.

The IDG Ventures India portfolio consists of 3DSoC, Agile Financial Technologies, Apalya, Aujas Networks, ConnectM, iCreate, iProf, iViZ, Kreeda, Manthan Systems, Myntra, Ozone Media and Perfint.