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Ashwin Raguraman to spearhead tech investments for IIM Ahmedabad-backed Bharat Innovation Fund

Our current focus is on raising capital for the Fund and we are engaging with multiple entities from govt departments to financial institutions," Raguraman said.

, ET Bureau|
Last Updated: Aug 09, 2016, 01.20 AM IST
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Our current focus is on raising capital for the Fund and we are engaging with multiple entities from govt departments to financial institutions," Raguraman said.
Our current focus is on raising capital for the Fund and we are engaging with multiple entities from govt departments to financial institutions," Raguraman said.
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NEW DELHI: Ashwin Raguraman, the former chief operating officer of Nasscom-promoted India Innovation Fund, has joined IIM Ahmedabad-backed Bharat Innovation Fund as a venture partner, the latest in a series of executive movements in the country’s risk capital industry.

Raguraman, who spent over five years with the India Innovation Fund, confirmed the move to ET, and said his primary responsibility in the recently-launched Bharat Innovation fund would be to lead its technology investments.

"I am actively involved in many other aspects of the Fund’s activities. Our current focus is on raising capital for the Fund and we are engaging with multiple entities ranging from Government departments to financial institutions and strategics," Raguraman told ET.

The $150 million (about Rs 1,000 crore) early-stage fund, which was announced earlier this year, is reportedly backed by IIM Ahmedabad’s Centre for Innovation Incubation and Entrepreneurship (CIIE) and Infuse Ventures, the country’s first clean-tech focused venture capital fund.

"We are delighted to have Ashwin Raguraman join the CIIE team - as we work towards building the Bharat Innovation Fund. Ashwin brings several years of IP-investing - which is a theme that we want to focus on at Bharat Innovation Fund. Ashwin's experience and networks will help us identify, validate and de-risk highly innovative ventures solving tough problems in sectors like technology, agri, energy and health," said Kunal Upadhyay, chief executive of CIIE and Infuse Ventures, in a statement.

It was also reported that the Bharat Innovation Fund will look to invest across sectors, including, agriculture, healthcare, clean technology and technology, among others.

"When I heard of the efforts being made with the fund under Bharat Innovations, they were closely aligned with my passion to catalyze cutting edge efforts out of India," Raguraman said.

"…Investing in startups is not a solo effort, and unlocking synergies with co-investors and downstream funds are important for the success of portfolio firms," he added.

The development comes at a time when the Indian private equity and venture capital professionals have quit, to either launch their own investment vehicles, or move to newer funds that have appeared on the landscape over the past 12-18 months.

In January earlier this year, ET reported that Mukul Singhal and Rohit Jain, two principals at SAIF Partners, had struck out to set up an early-stage fund.

Prior to that, in December last year, The Times of India reported that three of the six partners at Helion Venture Partners - one of the country's oldest home-grown venture capital funds Helion - Ritesh Banglani, Alok Goyal and Rahul Chowdhri - had quit the VC firm, to launch their own fund.

More recently, according to a report by VCCircle, Ashutosh Maheshvari, chief executive of Motilal Oswal’s investment banking unit, had also resigned to launch a structured debt fund.

Raguraman, who has also had stints with information technology behemoth Wipro Technologies and global container shipping giant, Maersk Line, is a mechanical engineer, and also holds an MBA degree from the Symbiosis Institute of Business Management (SIBM).

"I still believe that this (Indian startup ecosystem) space needs to be catalyzed with a dedicated early stage investment vehicle… Moreover, as this is an entrepreneurial effort given its early days yet, and a more ambitious one, it is challenging and therefore an attractive opportunity," he said.

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