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June 01, 2016

Mint revisits goings on at Helion Ventures

Mint columnist, Snigdha Sengupta, who had written a piece titled "The trouble with Helion Venture Partners" in December 2015 (when three of its junior partners - Rahul Chowdhri, Ritesh Banglani and Alok Goyal - had quit to set up their own shop) has revisited the VC firm with a new article titled "The undoing of Helion Venture Partners"  covering the context and reasons behind their departure and its fallout. Extracts:
“The fundamental premise they (the departing partners) were coming from was that they should be elevated to managing partners,” said (Sanjeev) Aggarwal, when Mint met with him and (Rahul) Chandra at the firm’s Gurgaon offices in the middle of April. The elevation would have entitled the younger partners to a larger share of the firm’s profits, commonly known as carried interest, and more influence in dealmaking. The founding partners didn’t think that the three were ready yet for the promotion.
...The old deal-sourcing networks when firms such as Helion started up were also losing relevance. They had been replaced, to a great measure, by the networks of successful entrepreneurs, who had become prolific angel investors in their own right. At Helion, a large part of the responsibility for steering the firm through this new world would fall on the second line of fund managers in the investment team—Chowdhri, Banglani and Goyal. The three, however, would only come into their own in late 2014, when Kanwaljit Singh, the firm’s fourth founding partner, decided to quit. 
Singh, whose career included a long stint in various operating roles at Hindustan Unilever Ltd, was pivotal in leading Helion into non-technology investments. By the middle of 2014, it had become evident that the non-technology portfolio wasn’t delivering as well as the technology portfolio. In all, about 20% of Helion’s $600 million corpus across its three funds had been invested in 13 non-technology companies.
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