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Indian Social Enterprises Getting a Silicon Valley Makeover

TechCrunch reports that Bangalore/Seattle-based Unitus Seed Fund got a fresh infusion of $8 million from a bevy of A-list investors – from Silicon Valley and Bangalore. I believe the entry of the Silicon Valley investors represents a major inflection point for the Indian social enterprise ecosystem. A major inflection point — not because there’s an incremental pool of $8 million available for investing — but because of the type and caliber of Silicon Valley investors (notably Vinod Khosla and Dave McClure). I believe this has the potential to kickoff a virtuous cycle in Indian social entrepreneurship — more new investors and of course more social entrepreneurs. Khosla has already invested in a few social enterprises through Khosla Impact fund (no LPs here, just his personal money) so this infusion into Unitus Seed Fund is a further endorsement of his already bullish assessment.

About Unitus Seed Fund (prior to this infusion)

Unitus Labs (a non-profit) launched this fund sometime in 2011 but publicly announced its existence in Feb 2012 in tandem with its first three investments — Hippocampus Learning Centres ($1.5 million) , Bodhicrew Services, Villgro, and Milaap Social Ventures. Dave Richards (CEO of Unitus Labs) is also the Managing Director of this fund.

About New Investors

  • Vinod Khosla (relevant Indian ecosystem appellations include Khosla Impact and Khosla Labs)
  • Mike Murray (co-founder of Unitus Labs)
  • 500 Startups (of Dave McClure fame)
  • Jeff Clark (unable to disambiguate his pedigree)
  • Bob Gay (formerly Bain Capital)
  • TV Mohandas Pai (Aarin Capital Partners and former CFO Infosys)
  • Dr. Ranjan Pai (Manipal Education and Health)

The two Pais (who apparently are not related according to this ET article) are contributing $2 million into this fund which means the five other investors (at least three of whom are from Silicon Valley) are investing $6 million. A few of the TechCrunch comments are interesting (and thus reproduced below).

McClure’s allusion to 500 StartupWallah (microfund focused on plain-old technology startups in India) when he says “BOP” or other communities.

500 Startups is super excited to be working with folks like Dave RichardsMike MurrayVinod Khosla, Geoff Wooley, and other former Unitus alumni to help create new ventures, new jobs, and economic opportunities in India. Whether or not it’s “BOP” or other communities that require innovative solutions, we are big believers in the use of creative capital to solve problems, move mountains, and make money. We are “all in”.

Khosla Impact’s Mark Straub looking to co-invest…

Congrats to Dave, Will and Srikrishna,
I look forward to working with, and co-investing with them in the future.

By the way, the two Pais investing $2 million  is also a great sign.. and needs to be discussed in a separate post.

Oddly, the TechCrunch story was published on Jan 3, 2013 but it didn’t show up in my daily TechCrunch email (damn you Feedburner!)