#Asia 500 Startups forms US$25M fund for India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh


Named 500 Kulfi, the fund will mainly look to invest in fintech, edtech, health & wellness, data analytics, content and SaaS/SMBs

500 Startups, a leading Silicon Valley-based early-stage fund-cum accelerator, has announced a US$25 million fund aimed at investing in startups in India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, as per an official blog post.

Christened 500 Kulfi, the fund will be headed by Partner Pankaj Jain.

Although it is a sector-agnostic fund, the fund will “take a closer look at fintech, edtech, health & wellness, data analytics, content and SaaS/SMB”.

“Namaskar! We’re excited to announce our latest regional fund focused on India including Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. 500 Kulfi will be a US$25M fund focusing on early-stage companies with product-market fit and demonstrated traction,” Jain wrote in the blog post.

“We’ve have a very large and young population, with more disposable income available and that amount is growing faster than anywhere else and global investors are taking notice and pouring money into Indian startups,” he said.

According to Walter Thompson (500 Startups Journalist-in-Residence), private equity investment activity in India was up 67 per cent from 2014 to US$21 billion. GDP is expected to grow at 7.6 per cent this year, faster than any other large global economy. India has the second largest Internet population in the world after China, more than 300 million users.

“The number of smartphones in use in India is set to reach over 700 million by 2020. The median age in India is 27.3 years old,” said Jain.

“All this means that India is looking as sweet as Kulfi (a type of Indian ice cream),” Jain noted.

The development comes close on the heels of a The Economic Times report in January that 500 Startups had, for the second time, put its plans for an India-specific fund on the back burner, as it was struggling to raise money for its latest global fund.

While the industry has been tweeting and blogging about doom and gloom hitting unicorns and startups alike, 500 Startups believes the long-term opportunity remains as solid as ever. It sees market changes as part of a natural cycle.

“While some good companies may have a harder time raising money this year, others will find it easier to get great talent. Some consolidation and stepping back from irrational exuberance is a good thing. In an environment like this, the Warren Buffett investor will thrive because they look for value. We hope to continue to find value in many verticals across India,” he said.

500 Startups has a considerable presence in India, having invested in over 50 companies since 2011, including ZipDial, SourceEasy, Instamojo, CultureAlley, SilverPush, KartRocket, and Headout. Last year alone, it did over 20 deals in India.

“However, we don’t think that’s enough. We’re thrilled to announce our plans to do more in India; much, much more,” he concluded.

Image Credit: highviews/Shutterstock

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