Listen: Pankaj Makkar and Pranjal Kumar on Bertelsmann’s long-term bet on Indian startups

Listen: Pankaj Makkar and Pranjal Kumar on Bertelsmann’s long-term bet on Indian startups
Pankaj Makkar and Pranjal Kumar
11 Sep, 2019

With a portfolio of 14 companies and limited partner interests in three venture capital funds, Bertelsmann India Investments (BII) has come a long way from studying the India market in 2013 to taking bets across sectors. 

For the Noida-based firm, which is the strategic investment arm of German media conglomerate Bertelsmann, backing capital efficient businesses is core to its investments in sectors such as digital, education and media and services. It is now also mulling a foray into the healthtech sector. 

TechCircle recently caught up with managing director Pankaj Makkar and Pranjal Kumar, head of education, on the sidelines of the firm’s flagship event, Bertelsmann India Summit.

The fund which invested direct-to-farmer mobile retail platform AgroStar and gold loans marketplace Rupeek earlier this year, will continue to focus on segments such as edtech, consumer brands and fintech. Kumar added that with healthcare following the same trajectory as education with adoption of online, the firm is looking to add capital efficient healthtech companies in its mix of portfolio investments.

Globally, the group’s bets in the edtech sector include US-based massive open online course platform Udacity and HotChalk, which has developed an online community app for grade school teachers.

Highlights from the conversation

Pankaj Makkar: Strategic businesses we are building, are not necessarily for exit but we could be holding them for 40-50 years. Our significantly long term market view for businesses makes us an attractive partner.

Pranjal Kumar: We will see Indian educational companies going regional if not global. Education is a service or product which can easily become global as it is increasingly being consumed online.