By October 29, 2009 Read More →

Narayana Murthy’s Gift to Indian Startups

Successful entrepreneurs, they say, make the best venture capitalists. While there are several venture capitalists who have never been entrepreneurs but hold stellar records as investors, the premium attached to an investor who has been down in the trenches himself is understandably higher. Also, when such entrepreneurs turn to investing in new entrepreneurs, the startup eco-system gets enriched in a way that is altogether unique. NR Narayana Murthy brings that much sought after unique value to the Indian startup eco-system with the launch of Catamaran Venture Fund.

Murthy turning venture capitalist in itself is not exceptional. India already has a small but fairly influential band of successful entrepreneurs who have brought their experience to bear on venture capital.

Not surprisingly, so far, most have been from the consumer Internet space – the first sector to create venture-backed entrepreneurial successes here. Online marketplace Baazee (acquired by eBay) founders Avinsh Bajaj and Suvir Sujan now lead investments for Matrix Partners India and Nexus Venture Partners respectively. Jobs portal Jobsahead (acquired by Monster) c0-founder Alok Mittal heads India investments for Canaan Partners. Naukri founder Sanjeev Bikhchandani, who staged India’s first successful Internet IPO (initial public offering) in 2006,  is currently experimenting with the corporate venturing model – read more in the Outlook Business story here.

The BPO (business process outsourcing) adventurers have not done too badly either. Sanjeev Aggarwal, co-founder of Daksh eServices (acquired by IBM), now runs Helion Venture Partners with his friends. Raman Roy, founder of Spectramind (acquired by Wipro), dabbles in angel investments through the Indian Angel Network. Krishnan Ganesh, founder of CustomerAsset (acquired by Firstsource Solutions), is also an active angel investor. All these gentlemen have put part of their own resources, earned from the success of their entrepreneurial ventures, to work in their venture capital activities. There are many more examples.

But, what makes Murthy stand out is the magnitude of what he has achieved as a first generation entrepreneur. The Internet and BPO czars came long after this software engineer (and six other colleagues) broke free of the shackles of a salaried middle class existence to scale unimaginable heights as an entrepreneur. Infosys Technologies, the startup he co-founded in 1981, is India’s second largest information technology services exporter at over $5 billion revenues today. Along the way, it has created millionaire employees, spawned entrepreneurs and generated hundreds of thousands of jobs. And all this while surviving a couple of economic recessions.

It is not clear yet as to how hands-on Murthy himself will be as a venture capitalist with Catamaran. He is still very closely associated with Infosys as its chairman. Reports suggest that a four-member team is being put in place to manage the fund. However, the fact that he sold shares worth $37 million – The Economic Times story here – to seed Catamaran could be an indication that backing entrepreneurs will be more than an off-the-cuff financial interest.

This commitment is critical for India’s fledgling entrepreneurial eco-system. This market has not yet produced enough successful entrepreneurs to inspire and back new entrants. In the US Silicon Valley, for instance, most iconic venture capital funds are helmed by former entrepreneurs. This has helped create and consistently invigorate the vibrant startup eco-system in the Valley. Where volume lacks, stature can somewhat compensate. Given Murthy’s sheer stature, his entry into venture capital is a big step foward for the startup community here.

We will be watching Catamaran’s future moves closely.

Posted in: News


  1. pradey says:

    how can v approch Catamaran Investment or NRN Murthy?

  2. Raviraj says:

    how can v approch Catamaran Investment or NRN Murthy?

  3. hmm…initial stage…I personally feel that things have to change a lot..

  4. K.S.GANESH BABU says:

    I hereby write that Effort applied by me in the field of new type of invention of fuel, resulted in the Evolution of new type of Mechanical power Enhancer, which develops the Mechanical Power in the Straight line,(Clean Energy), without Creating any force in the reverse direction,which is aganist the Newtons third Law of Motion. This machine doesnot require any type of fuel, no electricity,for which the Patent is in Pending,Efficiency of this machine is found to be more than 100%. This machine donot create any type of Pollution,Not even Vibration, but develops Mechanical Energy. Now I am ready to Transfer the Technology and ready to give Scientific Explanation with Vector diagrams and also designed diagrams. This machine is capable of developing the mechanical Energy for endless Period, thus enableing the Energy Security. This machine Prevents the further development of Global Warming. The application of this machine varies from Automobiles, Locomotives, Aircrafts, Submarines,etc. More and more detials can be explained through correspondence or e-mails or in person . Unfortunately I am finding it difficult bring it into Light due to the lack of funds. In this connection,I request yourkindself to be constructive minded and bring out my Invention into Light. Lot of materials are there for Proof of functing and
    exchanging. Kindly reply and oblige.

  5. Catamaran, to my knowledge, has not started operations yet. Unfortunately there are no contact details that I can share yet. Those interested could try getting in touch with Mr Murthy through the Infosys website or through the Bangalore chapter of TiE. I will post more on the fund as soon as I know more. Thanks all for reading.

  6. Mr. Narayanamurthy spoke about Social Entrprenurship and helping the Rural population of India. We have developed and tested a unique Gram Panchayat Community Portal solution that will empower villagers and bring transparency to GP government acroos 240,000 GPs in India. We are keen to present our soultion for further funding by Catamaran.

    What is the best way to contact Catamaran?

  7. Kannan R chari says:

    It is really a excellent oppritunity for professional with technology skills to come as entrepreneur. Mr.Narayanamurthy has become great industriallist undegoing great hardships. He will definitley understand professionals with skills but without initial capital

    We have technology on power saving. We need seed capital for start up . Kindly provide the details for approaching the Mr.Narayana’s murthy venture capital fund.

  8. Laskhmi says:

    It is a wonderful opportunity for Indian Youth and I can imagine the areas those are selected for venture funding by Catamaran will change the economic scenario in Indian market in next 5-years and bring it to next level for the young and upcoming professional graduates with lots of enthusiasm from the universities to do best for their country under the leadership of InfoSys Mentor….the great Narayana Murthy

  9. prabhu m says:

    i really thank the Gaint of indian IT;

  10. santosh says:

    how to contact Catamaran Venture Fund and whats the official website.

  11. abhjit says:

    how to contact murthy sir or Catamaran Venture Fund

  12. Allan says:

    Wow – very encouraging to see such a large scale success transition a little to venture capital. It will be a boon to the Indian entrepreneurial ecosystem – which has such great challenges and opportunities ahead.