Unitus Raises Funds for India from Global Foundations

Sep 2014
India, September, 02 2014 - Seed-stage impact investor Unitus Seed Fund has raised $7 million in fresh funding from a clutch of institutional and individual investors taking the total fund size to $20 million.

The India-focused micro VC fund has secured funding from several major US-based foundations including Deshpande Foundation, Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, Lemelson Foundation, Sorenson Impact Foundation and Wadhwani Foundation. New individual investors include Amazon executive Diego Piacentini, Microsoft executives Soma Somasegar, Bharat Shah, Anoop Gupta and Nagesh Pabbisetty, Social Venture Partners leaders Todd Vogel and Lance Fors, financial services executive Geeta Iyer, McKinsey executive Dilip Wagle, Concur CEO Steve Singh and others.

"We plan to invest in up to 40 startups over the next two years that impacts the lives of low-income population. There is a dearth of seed capital in this segment of the market, making the investment opportunities very attractive. We invest anywhere between Rs 50 lakh and Rs 1 crore in startups and pick up a significant minority stake," Srikrishna Ramamoorthy, partner in Unitus Seed Fund, said. Ramamoorthy said the fund is looking to raise an additional $5 million from India-based investors in the next few months.

Unitus has invested in 13 startups including Addresshealth, a paediatric healthcare clinic, mGaadi, a mobile solution for hailing autorickshaws, Caravan Craft, which sells contemporary merchandise from traditional Indian artisans, and Hippocampus Learning Centres, which provide pre-school and after school tutoring programs for children. "We believe that there is a great opportunity to invest in a new generation of entrepreneurs who are building disruptive new businesses serving the one billion under-served low-income market in India," said Dave Richards, co-founder and managing partner of Unitus.

Last year, TV Mohandas Pai, former Infosys board member, and Ranjan Pai, CEO of Manipal Education and Medical Group, committed $1 million each to the Unitus fund. Other Indian investors include DSP Blackrock chairman Hemendra Kothari and former Microsoft India chairman Ravi Venkatesan.

Unitus also launched a programme in India to accelerate early-stage startups targeting low-income groups.


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