Excl: IIG invests $100K in Sri Lanka's 24/7 Techies, bets on micro-investment platform Inventure
India Internet Group (IIG), an India-focused early-stage fund, has invested $100K in 24/7 Techies, a Sri Lankan computer support startup that provides technical support on the cloud. IIG's investment was part of the $600,000 received by 24/7 Techies in seed funding from Dave McClure's accelerator and seed investment fund 500 Startups, Rajan Anandan (MD at Google India), Shailesh Rao (VP, international revenue, at Twitter) and Pramod Bhasin (former president & CEO at Genpact).
The fund has also invested an undisclosed amount in InVenture, a micro-investment platform that allows individuals to invest in small businesses from under-served communities across the globe. IIG was launched by Anirudh Suri, Nihal Mehta and James Pallotta in April 2011. It is an India-focused fund that invests in early-stage internet and mobile technology startups. While the fund was launched in 2011, the partners have been angel investing in their personal capacity since 2010. Saavn and StepOut are examples of investments made prior to the launch of the fund. After the fund was unveiled, a follow up investment was also made in StepOut (earlier Ignighter).
Suri previously served as a policy advisor to the minister of state for communications and technology in the Indian government, where he focused on issues related to mobile, broadband internet and cyber security. Prior to that, he worked at McKinsey & Company and Goldman Sachs. He is also the founder of EkSMS, a personalized SMS and web-based recommendation engine.
Mehta is currently the CEO and co-founder of LocalResponse, Inc., a company that helps marketers respond to 'check-ins'. Prior to LocalResponse, he founded ipsh!, a full-service mobile marketing agency that was acquired by Omnicom. He is also a founding general partner at ENIAC ventures, a venture fund focused on mobile startups, and is an active angel investor with investments/advisories in Admob (sold to Google), Greystripe (sold to Valueclick) and Movoxx (sold to Adenyo).
Pallotta has earlier held key positions at companies like Essex Investment Management Company, Inc., Tudor Investment Corporation and Tudor Group Holdings. While at Tudor, he also served as the principal portfolio manager for the Raptor Global Funds, which he launched in 1993 with $200 million in assets under management. He later spun out from Tudor and founded Raptor Group, a Boston-based investment management firm.
According to Suri, the firm usually makes around 8-10 investments in a year. The investment amount can be anywhere between $50,000 to $300,000 and the firm prefers to co-invest along with other funds/angel investors. Six out of seven investments are co-investments, with the exception of EkSMS.
"EkSMS was incubated within the fund. We were the founders and we were responsible for building both the technology as well as the team," said Suri.
"Going forward, along with making investments, we also plan to incubate at least one startup each year," he added.
Initially, the firm was completely focused on finding entrepreneurs/products in the US that it could move to India. Examples of this are StepOut and The Wild East Group. But this has changed now. "In addition to finding companies in the US that can move to India, we are also doing the reverse now. What this means is we are now finding companies in India that can go global (or at least in the US). We help them move to the US, expanding their operations there, and also help them in raising funds there," said Suri.
He also mentions that we can expect to see one more investment from IIG before the end of this month. Keep track of this space for more on that.
(Edited by Prem Udayabhanu)