Serial entrepreneur Sashi Reddi to invest Rs 100 Cr in Indian startups

Sashi Reddi is a busy man even when he is not setting up or running his own companies. After selling his software testing firm AppLabs Technologies Pvt Ltd to NYSE-listed Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC) last September, the serial entrepreneur has donned the role of an angel investor, although on a part-time basis, as he is staying with CSC for a year – helping with the transition and also heading the independent testing division at CSC.

Prior to AppLabs, Reddi, an IIT-Delhi alumnus, had set up a series of ventures including a game development studio called FXLabs (acquired by Foundation 9 Entertainment, a US-based game developer), iCoop, Inc. and Web content management company EZPower Systems (again acquired by DocuCorp and now a part of Oracle).

Reddi had earlier set up a seed stage venture fund called SRI Capital, which currently has a portfolio of 10 companies. These include companies like konciergeMD, Identropy and Thinci in the US, and Indian firms such as Shopo.in (an online marketplace for handmade, handcrafted and designer goods), Edutor (focuses on technology-based educational products), GIBSS (offers operational, maintenance and energy solutions for buildings) and Bigdosa (outlet chain serving fusion cuisine). He is now planning to invest up to Rs 100 crore in startups in the next couple of years. All investments will be made in his personal capacity and he aims to be the first institutional investor in those startups.

In a chat with Techcircle.in, Reddi notes that the investment amount will vary for Indian and US companies. For the Indian firms, the amount could be anywhere between Rs 50 lakh and Rs 1 crore but for his US ventures, it will be in the range of $2,50,000-$5,00,000. As of now, he is making a new investment every two months or so.

Reddi has chosen to be a super angel and invests larger amounts in lesser number of companies instead of investing Rs 10-20 lakh in a lot of them. And he does this because that is precisely how he can play a substantial role in helping them grow. The risk-versus-reward factor is another reason as well. After all, a large amount invested in a company will also ensure big returns and that is motivation enough.

So how does he go about making these investments? Reddi mostly looks at companies based in Hyderabad (since he has a presence there) or those located in San Francisco Bay Area (where he spends a lot of time). He has also started a tech incubation center in Hyderabad, so that his investee companies can utilise the office space and work on growing their businesses without worrying about infrastructural requirements.

Although he has no pronounced sector preference, Reddi likes to pick technology companies as he is pretty familiar with this space. According to him, a lot of activity currently happening in the Bay Area focuses on the social stuff (like apps, consumer behaviour, etc.). So it is important for Indian entrepreneurs to focus on business models which are often considered 'boring' (like Enterprise SaaS), but will make money over the next 10 years. Although e-commerce is now overplayed, he feels that there are still lots of opportunities in this space, but people have to be patient.

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(Edited by Sanghamitra Mandal)