#Asia Guess who just visited Flipkart, Snapdeal campuses?



Padmasree Warrior is looking to invest in Indian companies. Photo credit: Web Summit

She is a Silicon Valley veteran, married to a hugely successful entrepreneur-investor. For seven years she powered Cisco, one of the best known technology companies in the world. So when Padmasree Warrior visits India’s top ecommerce offices, we sit up and take notice.

Turns out Padmasree and her husband Mohandas Warrior are looking to invest in Indian companies, the Economic Times reported today. And yes, that includes startups – particularly those that show potential to go international.

“India is at a very interesting phase right now where there is a lot of innovation happening and I wanted to get a first-hand look at that,” 55-year-old Padmasree was quoted as saying.

Padmasree was CTO at Cisco before she left this year. According to Forbes, she supervised six acquisitions for the company in 2014 and 10 in 2013, helping Cisco grow in influence. A native of Andhra Pradesh, she visits India every year.

Startups that dream big

But this time she dropped in at the campuses of Flipkart, Snapdeal, and Kalaari Capital. “I got a feel of how these new companies are getting built in India, what makes them tick, what their challenges are, there is a lot of learning from the Silicon Valley that I can bring here,” she said.

China is on her radar too. “Market, capital, and innovation is equal in India, China, and the US right now,” she said, having visited China last week.

“I will be going for companies that won’t be addressing just the India market. Time is right for them to be built in India, Silicon Valley, and China all at the same time,” she said.

Padmasree says technology and consumer internet are some of the areas she and her husband want to invest in.

Indians abroad

Ram Shriram of Sherpalo Ventures

Ram Shriram of Sherpalo Ventures

That is how many Indians based abroad have begun to feel as startups boom in India. Three or four startups are born each day, and an equal number get funding. The first three quarters of the year saw US$6.4 billion in funding for Indian startups.

California-based investor Ram Sriram said at an event in Bangalore this week that he was happy to see the startup scene emerging in India. He would like to do early stage investing in one of India’s “disruptive” ideas.

Earlier this year the Franchise India website had documented how several Indians abroad were flocking back to the homeland to launch internet-based companies.

  • Chennapa Naidu Darapaneni, who founded Versant Technologies Inc in the year 2000 in the US, and expanded operations in India in 2004, is one of them. “After spending 10 years in the US, I felt India has much more potential for growth in the long run,” says Darapaneni, who went on to start MeraEvents.

  • Kalaari Capital’s managing director Vani Kola is a seasoned entrepreneur who moved back to India from Silicon Valley.

  • Vikram Upadhyaya, chief mentor and accelerator evangelist, GHV Accelerator, is another such entrepreneur. His Green House Ventures (GHV) aims to invest in 10 promising startups from India every year.

He states his reasons. “Doing business in India is relatively easier now than it was when I moved out of India in the mid-90s. From registering a company to filing a tax return or from hiring a team to selling the company, it has become quite easy now.”



Photo by Lingaraj GJ

Vikram, however, pointed out that registering a private limited company still took much longer here than in developed countries like Singapore or Japan where it “is a day’s job.”

Ram also thinks that there is not much change when it comes to infrastructure and wants to see better roads and more 4G connections. He wants to see more universities for higher education that can enlarge the talent pool for startups.

The Indian government has also been trying to change things to create a more conducive atmosphere.

Just before Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Silicon Valley in September this year, FirstPost noted how the government had set up of an INR100-billion (US$1.6 billion) startup fund and a new campaign, ‘Start up India, Stand up India’, which seeks to promote bank financing to help the underprivileged participate in the startup revolution.

See: India sets up $1.6B fund for startups, backs a new era of software product innovation

So, where’re the opportunities?

What are the areas that hold potential? Here’s what Padmasree thinks: healthcare, fitness, and wellness services that use the internet. She believes that education and skill development along with transportation also hold promise.

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