Mumbai based Lightbox Ventures is the newest entrant to the Indian venture capital market. The barely a month-old firm has some familiar names at its helm. The team is fronted by Sandeep Murthy, who has just stepped down from Sherpalo Ventures, where he led the India investments for both Sherpalo and Kleiner Perkins Caulfield and Byers (KPCB). Also on the team is Prashant Mehta, who resurfaces after stepping down from the CEO’s job at Mumbai based ad network Komli Media last November.
The launch of the new firm signals that India may no longer be a priority for Sherpalo and KPCB, both Silicon Valley based firms that started investing here nearly a decade ago. Earlier, Menlo Park, California headquartered Draper Fisher Jurvetson wound up its India operations after seven-odd years of investing here — read our interview with the firm’s former India head Mohanjit Jolly.
Lightbox Management, advised by Lightbox India Advisors, launches operations with two funds — Lightbox Ventures I and Lightbox Ventures II. Fund I has already acquired equity stakes in 6 companies — GreenDust, ZoomIn, MapmyIndia, Paymate, FutureBazaar and Kotak Urja. The fund has effectively acquired part of the India portfolios of Sherpalo Ventures and KPCB.
Lightbox Ventures II will be a $90 million fund. It is aiming for a first close of $25 million, which it expects to raise from a global institutional investor. The fund will have a concentrated investment portfolio of 8 companies and will invest between $3 million and $5 million per company at the Series A stage. The fund will have an investment horizon of 7-8 years.
”This is such an exciting time to be active in the consumer tech space in India. So much is changing at once — growth in per capita income, urbanization, organization of retail and technology penetration. This creates opportunities that are simply unprecedented. The missing element is scale in technology penetration, which is poised to accelerate in the coming years,” Murthy said in a statement today.
Murthy moved from the US to Mumbai in 2005 to set up Sherpalo Ventures’ operations in India. Sherpalo was KPCB’s preferred investment partner here and the two co-invested on a number of deals. During his stint as partner with Sherpalo, Murthy was involved in investments in companies such as InfoEdge, InMobi and GreenDust. He also took on operational roles at online travel company Cleartrip, a KPCB and Sherpalo portfolio company.
Apart from Murthy and Mehta, the Lightbox team includes Sid Talwar, founder of vocational training company Evolv which was acquired by NIIT in 2007, Zoomin CEO Sunny Rao, Jeremy Wenokur, Krishna Vinjamuri and Nitin Sharma.