Frontier Tech Funding
With a surge in demand for emerging technologies such as AI, IoT and Big Data, funds backed by technology industry veterans are making a vital contribution.
Exfinity Venture Partners, a Bengaluru-based early-stage frontier technology company, has a strong focus on technology-driven product companies incubated in India, a model which can be scaled across the globe. One of the few companies to focus on and invest in B2B startups, it backs enterprise technology companies in India and the India-US business corridor, and drives innovation and business transformation across industries.
Exfinity was founded in 2013 by IT industry veterans with a strong operating background and impeccable credentials: Shailesh Ghorpade, Mohandas Pai, Balakrishnan V, Girish Paranjpe, Rajiv Kuchhal, Deepak Ghaisas, Chinnu Senthilkumar and Sushil Mantri, all of whom previously held leadership roles in some of India’s leading organisations including Infosys, Wipro, I Flex and Onmobile.
Managing Partner & Chief Investment Officer Shailesh Ghorpade, says, “We understand that ‘new-age’ technology is driving workplace innovation. Accordingly, areas of interest for Exfinity are diverse, and in the field of deep-tech, include IoT, analytics, AI, cloud-computing, and software-defined hardware, amongst many others. Entrepreneurs with proven domain-knowledge, who possess specialised market know-how have received backing from Exfinity.”
Exceptional tech companies with a robust technology moat are what the fund looks out for before supporting them in various areas. Take the case of the fund’s very first investment; the Silicon Valley-based startup, ‘Virtual Power Systems’. Conceptualised in 2012, Virtual developed virtualisation software with the potential to reduce power costs of data centres. Exfinity has been a strategic mentor and investor to Virtual by supporting them extensively, in addition to helping craft their go-to-market strategy. Absentiavr, Cloudsek, Moengage, Locus and IQLECT are a few of the technology product companies, which the firm has funded and mentored.
Though the firm invests typically $1-2 million in pre-Series A rounds, with their newer funds, it has entered into funding the follow-on rounds too. Apart from the necessary capital funding to bolster their growth, it also partners with entrepreneurs in executive hiring, market references, arranging mentors and provides them with strategic inputs on strategy and execution.
“The ability of the founding team to tell a story is what we see”, says Ghorpade. The credentials and passion of the innovative entrepreneurs and their unique ability to see the big picture are the aspects Exfinity considers crucial. They also review the uniqueness of the entrepreneurs’ proposition, market opportunity, competitive space and the technology differentiation to figure out the company’s value proposition and its opportunity sizing.
Apart from funding the right startups, its founders also work closely with both state and central governments, through policy recommendations and other initiatives, to help smoothen their working relationship with India’s startup ecosystem.
Speaking of the startup ecosystem, starting from its first fund, Exfinity has invested in a diverse set of technology companies. Fitternity, a wellness services discovery and booking platform, Uniken, a digital connectivity and access platform and Mad Street Den, an artificial intelligence and computer vision company are just a few of the startups Exfinity has invested in.
It’s also interesting to consider how the firm chooses the startups it supports. Exciting utilisation of new digital technologies to develop better products and newer solutions is what Exfinity looks for in their picks. Ghorpade backs this up, stating that they look at how technology is used by the companies to address cases in a transformational way.
In the coming times, high-end product and technology will not just be used on its own, but will be a rising disruptor in traditional industries, changing them for the better. Agriculture, manufacturing, transportation and natural resource management are just some of the spaces set to experience a disproportionate revolution that is already in the making.
“The quality of Indian entrepreneurs is as good as any other geography, they have the ability to hustle and build a product on frugal resources. Our innovators are top notch, and about 30% of US startups in Silicon Valley have an Indian founder. The area that we can improve on is the market facing side, by building a formidable sales and marketing competence”, says Ghorpade.