Tim Draper Returns to India

Draper has backed Hotmail and Skype among other technology startups

Draper has backed Hotmail and Skype among other technology startups

‘Riskmaster’ Timothy C Draper visits, rather re-visits, India next month (October 10-12) and breezes through Mumbai and Bangalore. The last time the maverick venture capitalist was here, in late 2005, he set the ball rolling on Draper Fisher Jurvetson’s (DFJ) formal entry into India with the TiE Draper ‘India Venture Challenge’ that gave away $150,000 as prize money.

Subsequently, DFJ set up headquarters in Bangalore in September 2007 led by Mohanjit Jolly and Sateesh Andra (who works out of Hyderabad) — read more about DFJ’s India gameplan here. It has been investing from a $75 million India allocation (from its $600 million DFJ IX fund), which must be nearly over considering the pace at which DFJ has been closing deals — nine deals in 12-odd months!

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“People Like Our Riskmaster Approach” Sateesh Andra, DFJ India

Andra also mentors entrepreneurs as a TiE Charter Member

Andra also mentors entrepreneurs as a TiE Charter Member

Sateesh Andra, venture partner at Draper Fisher Jurvetson (DFJ) India, founded Euclid Software and led product development and engineering in companies such as Wipro, Tsqware and LSI Logic, before turning venture capitalist when DFJ set up operations in India last September. DFJ has invested in 11 companies here so far out of a $100 million India allocation from a global $650 million fund. The firm’s portfolio includes companies such as mGinger, Cleartrip, mChek, Reva and Seventymm. DFJ has come across as a somewhat cautious investor in India with a preference for co-investment deals — quite unlike its global image, as typified by co-founder Timothy Draper who self titles himself the ‘Riskmaster’. But this month the firm broke the pattern with its first solo India investment in online education company Catura Systems. I chatted with Andra, who is based in Hyderabad, on the ‘phone last Saturday on what DFJ’s India moves could be here on. Edited excerpts from the interview:

How do you assess DFJ India’s performance in terms of your deal run so far?

Like many other good venture funds, we’ve done well. We’ve been investing in India for a long time. The Draper name is not new to India (William Draper’s Draper International has invested in companies such as Rediff and Geometric Software). Eventually exits and the value you create for portfolio companies will determine success. And we all know that in India there have not been many venture exits yet. So today if you were to apply a metric and measure success,

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