Dell Ventures, the $300-million venture fund arm of personal computing giant Dell, is planning to bet big on the Indian startup ecosystem and partner or invest in new-age disruptive startups in the country, as part of its broader push into Asia, a top company executive said in an interview.
The push into India comes at a time when the country has become a battleground for internet supremacy, with the likes of Soft-Bank, Alibaba and Amazon pumping in billions of dollars of investments to gain an edge in what relationexperts are calling the world's last remaining ecommerce frontier. Within the next few months, Dell Ventures is also expected to formally announce its plans for India.
"We're investing to innovate in India, to innovate in Asia, to create an outreaching ecosystem in Asia which is different. We announced Dell Ventures in China, we announced a $125-million investment in China and we've also announced a continued expansion in India, from a 27,000-people perspective," said Amit Midha, president of Asia-Pacific and Japan at Dell. Midha will also oversee Dell Ventures' foray into Asia.
In 2013, Dell revived its plans to instage startups and signaled its intentions by announcing the creation of a fund called the Strategic Innovation Fund, shortly after going private. Experts at the time hailed the revival of the venture arm, which had mostly remained dormant since it was first created in the early 2000s.
"What we are interested in is furthering our strategy in India. We are not a hedge fund, we are not a VC firm what we are interested in is, as and when an opportunity comes that fits in with our strategy, we will be interested in backing. And not only commercial relationships, but also financial relationships," said Midha. Dell will look to back startups that are building disruptive solutions with newer technologies such as cloud computing, security and analytics. And the company also wants to back startups that have moved beyond the early-stage phase.
"We are looking at cloud, IoT (internet of things), big data and security. We like to look at startups that have gone beyond the 5-people operation stage. Otherwise it becomes too much of a headache for us. The company needs to have some sort of momentum, some customer traction we are not an accelerator, we are more interested in companies that are growing their businesses. And our involvement will help them grow even faster and also give them credibility points," said Midha, adding that founder and CEO Michael Dell was personally extremely committed towards the Indian market.
Midha said that Dell Ventures would be open to making strategic partnerships, and not necessarily financial investments, with startups that it backs in Asia, citing the example of Dell's recent partnership with Indian mobile ad startup InMobi in September when founder Michael Dell had flown to India for a short trip to meet local startups. "Our partnerships with startups may not even be financial for example, look at what we did with InMobi," said Midha.