VC firm WaterBridge closes $30M maiden fund

Early-stage venture capital firm WaterBridge Ventures has made the final close of its maiden fund at $30 million (about Rs 200 crore).
 
The development comes at a time when seed and Series-A investments in India continue to be muted, driven down by a combination of reduced investor appetite and shortage in a quality deal flow.
 
WaterBridge Ventures has already announced six investments, but is also believed to have placed three more bets, which are yet to be disclosed. "Despite the launch of quite a few early-stage funds over the last 2-3 years, these institutions account for less than 25% of deals, as fragmented angel capital is still prevalent," Manish Kheterpal, managing partner at WaterBridge Ventures, told ET.
 
While 2017 saw the Indian startup ecosystem rack up exits totalling $2.55 billion, going past the $1.80 billion recorded in 2016 and $1.69 billion scored two years ago, according to data collated by Venture Intelligence, it also witnessed a 35% drop in the number of angel and seed investments to 435 — a three-year low.
 
Additionally, the number of new technology startups launched in the country, dropped for the first time in over five years to 1,000.
 
“Institutional early stage VC is still in its nascent stages in India. We back founders with a high opportunity cost of entrepreneurship and work as partners to catalyse their vision,” Sarbvir Singh, partner at WaterBridge Ventures.
 
The firm’s technology-focused first fund is a seven-year, SEBI-registered Category-II Alternate Investment Fund, which is targeting 15-20 investments, across segments, including, B2B analytics, social, consumer internet and technology plays in education, healthcare government, and BFSI.
 
“Start-ups require handholding and institutional approach in strategic, operational matters and capital structure formation before they are ready for later-stage investors. That’s where funds like WaterBridge play an important role,” Kheterpal said.
 
The fund counts government-owned SIDBI, global family offices from US, Hong Kong, and Singapore, along with high net-worth professionals from the technology sector as its Limited Partners.
 
Led by Kheterpal, Singh, Ravi Kaushik and Ashish Jain, WaterBridge Ventures typically invests Rs 3-Rs 4 crore, primarily coming in as the first institutional investor. Till date, the investment firm has backed learning platform Unacademy, analytics venture DataWeave, offline commerce-focused discovery and content engagement startup MagicPin and lending platform ZipLoan, among others.
 
All four startups have gone on to raise further capital, post WaterBridge’s investment. Separately, other early-stage investors, such as Blume Ventures and Kalaari Capital are also on the road to raise their next investment vehicles.
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