Illustration: Rahul Awasthi
Illustration: Rahul Awasthi

Former Helion Venture Partners MD Rahul Chandra and former Kalaari Capital partner Bala Srivastava have marked the first close of their maiden Rs 700-crore early-stage fund Arkam Ventures.

Arkam, formerly known as Unitary Helion, has raised Rs 325 crore anchored by US-based Impact investor Capria. Other investors include Small Industries Development Bank of India (Sidbi) and prominent family offices in the US and India, the company said.

Flipkart cofounder Binny Bansal, Paytm founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma and MakeMyTrip cofounder Rajesh Magow have also come on board as investors.

“The venture ecosystem values our past investment experience of partnering founders from seed stage to IPO,” Chandra told ET. “We recognise that exits, especially IPOs, are rare in India and we are excited to bring this experience to our portfolio.”

The fund will invest in 15 to 18 companies with a focus on Series A and Series B investments in the financial services, healthcare, food, agriculture, and mobility space. The company’s average cheque size for series A will be Rs 10-15 crore and Rs 20-25 crore for Series B.

“The next 400 million middle income consumer market is very large, but has huge inefficiencies in the form of broken supply chains, limited access to credit, and outdated brick and mortar infrastructure, all which was magnified during the Covid-19 crisis,” Srinivasa said.

Graphic: Rahul Awasthi
Graphic: Rahul Awasthi

Chandra said the fund plans to invest in founders who combine a deep understanding of Middle India and use technology to design low-cost solutions and efficient business models. “We will likely lean towards business models that have clear economics and retain healthy margins,” he said.

Arkam has already made two investments – in digital lending company Krazybee and B2B supply chain platform Jumbotail.

“India’s recovery from the Covid-19 crisis and a return to sustainable growth will require new ideas, policies, and mass-market solutions that positively impact the lives of millions of Indians,” said Ravi Venkatesan, former CEO of Microsoft India, who is an advisor to the fund. “Arkam’s focus on startups building technology-led solutions for Middle India is timely.”

Chandra was a cofounder of Helion Ventures where he backed over a dozen startups across three funds. Srinivasa, as Kalaari Capital partner, backed startups across areas such as lending, mobile brokerage, credit scoring, grocery, and media. Both partners are alumni of BITS, Pilani.

“The Arkam team brings rich experience in India VC investing. Any new startup should look forward to leveraging this learning for sustained success,” said Paytm’s Sharma who is an investor at Arkam.

Advisors to the fund also include Vikas Choudhry, president at Reliance Jio, Anand Chandrasekharan, EVP at Five9, Jeremy Lim, cofounder of AMiLI, Arun Balakrishnan, CEO of Xceedance, and Hari TN, head of HR at Big Basket.

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