Mumbai: Former Intel Capital executive Deepak Gupta has launched a seed stage venture capital firm—WEH Ventures—that aims to invest in tech start-ups in niche, emerging areas.
“This fund is targeting a corpus of Rs40 crore. We have raised the fund so far from many prominent CXOs, folks in senior positions at start-ups, a couple of family offices and some college alumni. We expect to hit final close in 9-12 months,” said Gupta, who has a B.Tech from IIT-Bombay and an MBA from the University of Maryland.
Gupta was associated with chip maker Intel and its venture arm Intel Capital in various roles between 2000 and 2014. Later he co-founded Equitycrest, an online platform to connect start-ups with angels and early-stage investors.
WEH Ventures plans to differentiate itself from other early-stage investors by focusing on emerging and niche sectors such as content, virtual reality (VR) / augmented reality (AR) and electric vehicles.
“We are looking for sectors which are either seeing massive growth/engagement and will be really meaningful in the future or others which have begun to pick up some traction and have a shot at being large, where we can get in early. From that perspective, ‘content’ falls into the first bucket and VR/AR and electric vehicles are more in the second bucket,” he said.
WEH Ventures’ focus on areas such as content is based on the growing engagement in online content and changing tastes of Indian consumers.
“Content is exploding both in terms of hours consumed and also the multitude of content types. So the aspiring Indian is essentially going from Bollywood, GEC and cricket to a much richer menu that includes cooking shows, live entertainment, literary content, sport beyond cricket, language content,” Gupta said.
We are seeing very significant levels of engagement which will be followed\ at some point by material monetization, he said, adding that the sector is an opportunity where local companies have more defensibility than in others.
On the AR/VR side, Gupta expects gaming to be a significant opportunity. “We see an opportunity for companies in the gaming space from India to engage in the VR wave and eventually launch India-focused titles as the market gets ready,” he said.
In AR the action is on the enterprise side, Gupta added.
“We are seeing action on the enterprise side on AR in developed markets. These technologies will take more time to ripen, but at the same time we see software/service type plays which can begin to capture some opportunities on the business side and gradually build a business, as our sense is that enterprises are ready for certain use cases such as remote maintenance of equipment, training etc.
Also the opportunity on the electric vehicle side is growing, thanks to tailwinds from the government of India, which is focused on clean energy and which recently announced its intention to replace all fossil fuel driven cars in India by electric cars by the year 2030.
“Some of the opportunities are pretty significant, e.g. in the two-wheeler space, where India is the world’s largest market, we could really shape the industry,” said Gupta.
WEH will look to typically write a first cheque of up to Rs1 crore and keep substantial dry power for follow-on support. The firm plans to invest in up to 20 companies.