Early-stage venture fund pi Ventures has announced the first close of its maiden fund at $13 million, with technology entrepreneurs such as former Infosys CFO and Aarin Capital chairman TV Mohandas Pai, Flipkart's Binny Bansal, MakeMyTrip's Deep Kalra and Info Edge's Sanjeev Bikchandani, and angel investor Bhupen Shah, backing it, among others.
The fund has also received capital from Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI), besides family offices from the US, Canada, Singapore and India, it said in a statement.
Launched last August with a target corpus of $30 million, it aims to raise the balance amount and close the fund within this year, the statement added.
The fund, which will back early-stage startups that "focus on solving problems in healthcare, logistics, retail, fin-tech and enterprise sectors using artificial intelligence, machine learning and Internet of things", plans to invest in 18-20 ventures over 3-4 years.
Co-founded by online funding platform LetsVenture founder Manish Singhal and Vimagino co-founder Umakant Soni, pi Ventures has so far made three investments in the healthcare and energy-efficiency space—SigTuple, Zenatix and ten3T.
"India is the dark horse in the AI race given it has lot of data, brilliant data science talent and early adoption environment due to broken processes and we are happy to play a part in helping India leapfrog with AI," Singhal said.
Shah and Bhikchandani, along with Badal Malick and Raghu Tarra, are some of the early backers of fund.
Malick, who has invested in several startups, is founder of acceleration platform for B2B startups, Gravity. He has also made investments in locus.in, daybox.in, ziploan.in, kapitalbond, footprint, and Switch.vc portfolio. Earlier, he was vice-president - omnichannel at Snapdeal. Tarra is chief product officer at GigSky Inc, which provides mobile data solutions for international travellers.
Recently, Indian Angel Network's eponymous IAN Fund also marked its first close, receiving commitment from investors within the network as well as high-net-worth individuals (HNIs) overseas. One of the largest early-stage funds around, IAN Fund will focus on sectors such as e-commerce, semi-conductors, gaming, and robotics.
Nearly 26 venture funds came up in India last year, according to data from VCCEdge, the data research platform of News Corp VCCircle.
Early-stage funds launched last year include Ideaspring Capital, WaterBridge Ventures, Pravega Ventures and Stellaris Venture Partners, among others.