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Helion may raise $400 million for its fourth India fund

Helion Venture Partners, venture capital investors, is on the road to raise $300-400 million (Rs 1,850-2,500 crore) for its fourth India fund.

Updated: Mar 04, 2015, 01.35 PM IST
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Helion Venture Partners, venture capital investors, is on the road to raise $300-400 million (Rs 1,850-2,500 crore) for its fourth India fund. 
Helion Venture Partners, venture capital investors, is on the road to raise $300-400 million (Rs 1,850-2,500 crore) for its fourth India fund. 
MUMBAI: Helion Venture Partners, one of the oldest home-grown venture capital investors, is on the road to raise $300-400 million (Rs 1,850-2,500 crore) for its fourth India fund. The Bengaluru and Gurgaon based firm joins more than a dozen early stage investors currently in the market to raise nearly $3 billion (Rs 18,550 crore) in fresh capital for India’s booming start-up sector.

“The firm started pre-marketing the new fund to existing limited partners (investors in venture capital funds) in December,” said a person with direct knowledge of the matter. “They have not firmed up a corpus yet but plan to raise between $300 million and $400 million,” said another person privy to the plans.

The fundraising campaign is being led by the firm’s Gurgaon-based partner Alok Goyal, earlier chief operating officer at SAP India. Goyal is part of a recently constituted four-member team that currently leads investments at Helion. Co-founder and managing director Rahul Chandra and partners Rahul Chowdhri and Ritesh Banglani make up the rest of the team.

Helion did not respond to email queries from ET.

The firm’s plans for a new fund come amid an overhaul of its overall investment strategy and internal operating structure. Since late last year, the nine-year old firm has been in the middle of reinventing itself as a pure-play technology start-up investor, moving away from its earlier focus on technology and offline consumer businesses.

In the past six months the firm has participated in 10 deals, of which eight have been in technology sector. Some of its recent bets include $5 million Series A rounds in social discovery platform Wooplr and dating app Trulymadly.

The shift in strategy coincides with Kanwaljit Singh, one of the firm’s founding partners, stepping down in September. Singh, former venture capital co-head for private equity firm Carlyle Group in India, led the firm’s investments in offline consumer businesses. Singh founded Helion in 2006 with Ashish Gupta, co-founder of Junglee and Tavant Technologies; Sanjeev Aggarwal, founder of BPO firm Daksh; and Chandra, who was a founding member of Walden International’s operations in India.

Singh will continue with the firm, mostly in an advisory role, till the middle of next year. Gupta relocated back to the US about two years ago and is chiefly involved with the firm’s cross-border deals. Aggarwal remains on board in a general investing role. These changes, though, are not expected to have any material impact on the firm’s future fundraising. “I don’t think it makes a lot of difference given the shift to technology investments,” said a limited partner familiar with the firm’s fundraising plans.

Since inception, the firm has raised over $600 million across three funds and backed 62-odd companies. Plans for the fourth fund come more than three years after it raised $255 million for its last fund. Limited partners who have backed the firm in the past include the Stanford University and Princeton University endowments and the Singapore government’s sovereign wealth fund GIC.

The success of the firm’s ongoing transition and its next fund, though, rests squarely on finding winners in its current portfolio. While it has some notable investments such as property search platform Housing, ecommerce marketplace Shopclues and grocery etailer BigBasket, it doesn’t yet have any billion dollar start-ups in the portfolio.

The sole exception is online radio cabs aggregator Ola, which is a backdoor entry – Ola acquired Helion backed Taxiforsure this week in a stock-and-cash deal. The portfolio has seen only three notable exits so far – bus ticketing platform Redbus (acquired by Naspers), online travel platform Makemytrip (which went public in 2010) and research services firm Amba Research (acquired by Moody’s).

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