Ex-Indiatimes CEO Rishi Khiani launches startup platform Ant Farm; 5 startups under its fold

23 Nov, 2012

Former Times Internet CEO Rishi Khiani, who had quit the firm three months ago, has launched his own venture called Ant Farm (not to be confused with The Ant Farm, a US-based creative agency) – a kind of hybrid startup platform that brings together people, helps in ideation or scaling up an existing idea and sees through its execution. Although a formal announcement is expected sometime next week, it has been revealed that  the venture focuses on scaling up startup ideas in education, travel & leisure, retail, ad-tech and life sciences businesses.

Ant Farm already has five companies under its fold – Stylista, Arrive, Social Plug, Fork and Teach Cast. All the companies are in stealth mode right now, but Fork and Stylista will be out in beta in January 2013 while Arrive will go live by February. The rest will follow suit soon after, according to a source privy to the development.

The company's 'ants' will be people from marketing & sales background besides techies and designers.

Khiani did not respond to our attempts for an official word on this initiative. He, however, has roped in former colleague Upen Rai for the new venture. While Khiani is the CEO & MD of Ant Farm, Upen Rai, a former director at Times Internet Ltd, has joined the venture as COO and executive director. Rai, who quit TIL last month along with Sandeep Amar, head of marketing at Indiatimes, was previously the COO of the group's lifestyle-related entertainment TV channel Zoom.

"Our aim is to create global brands that are ideated and built out of India. We are not an incubator, an accelerator or a fund. We are a company that will take a consistent line-up of clutter-breaking ideas and make them into successful long-term businesses," states Khiani's updated LinkedIn profile.

Khiani, who put in his papers at Times Internet Ltd in June this year, left the firm after leading the digital business of the country's largest media house Bennett Coleman & Co. Ltd (BCCL) for three years. He was replaced by Satyan Gajwani who is the son-in-law of the group's vice-chairman Sameer Jain.

Prior to TIL, Khiani was the COO at Web18. He joined the organisation after selling his company UrbanEye to the Network18 group.

(Edited by Sanghamitra Mandal)