Mantra Capital launches fund for tech startups

The US-based fund has already raised $24 million out of $60 million. The company has started scouting for startups in India and the US to make its initial investments.

By Author  |  Published: 8th Jan 2020  3:36 pmUpdated: 9th Jan 2020  1:12 am
Mantra Capital
SUPPORTING INNOVATION: Mantra Capital partners Jay Krishnan (from left), Srikanth Chintalapati and Kevin Jacobs have teamed up to create the venture fund.

Hyderabad: Cross-border early-stage venture capital firm Mantra Capital has launched a $60 million fund that will focus on Deep Tech startups. The Delaware (US)-based fund has already raised $24 million (over Rs 172 crore) out of $60 million (over Rs 430 crore).

The fund set up by three veteran entrepreneurs Jay Krishnan, Srikanth Chintalapati and Kevin Jacobs, will invest in startups with products and solutions that use advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, blockchain, photonics and robotics. Jay was the maiden chief executive officer of the Hyderabad-based technology startup incubator T-Hub.

The eight-year fund will focus on seed and pre-series A round startups with advanced solutions in the areas of Food and Agritech, Prop Tech, Ed Tech, Space Tech, Transportation, Logistics, Energy Storage, Health Tech, Med Tech, Bionics, Synthetic DNA besides other sectors.

Sharing the plans, Jay Krishnan, partner, Mantra Capital, told Telangana Today, “In the next thirty days, we will be announcing our first investment. In addition to making our own individual funding, we could also look at participating in startup deals to co-fund them. While evaluating the potential of a startup, we will look at their teams, vision, passion, marketing & management strategy.”

He added, “Mantra Capital’s fund will focus on scaling innovative solutions that have rapid acceleration potential and can solve problems locally with a global impact. We are currently looking at a dozen startup deals that are in matured stage. We will be looking at a funding ticket size of $500,000 to $2 million for each startup and will fund at a rate of 10 startups a year.”

Srikanth Chintalapati, partner, Mantra Capital, said, “We are looking to close our first fund worth $60 million by the end of 2020, backed by investors from the US and other countries outside of India, primarily comprising of investors and Family Offices.”

Sector focus

“We are keen to invest in startups in sectors such as Food Tech and Agri Tech that use technologies and processes that are operationally intensive. So far, there have been very few innovations in the agriculture space, which forms the biggest chunk of the market. But we are seeing an influx of good quality startups that are creating solutions. We will also look at niche areas such as space tech where nano satellites could be used to monitor deforestation and soil nutrients. Solutions that can help farmers with intelligent predictions could be of our interest. We will also be protecting the intellectual property of the startups,” Srikanth added.

Mantra Capital has started scouting for startups in India and international markets such as the US to make its initial investments. The company is ramping up operations and is scouting for deals in markets such as Israel, Africa and Japan.

Kevin Jacobs, partner, Mantra Capital, said, “We could be investing in about 30-40 startups in the entire lifecycle of the fund. There is a good opportunity to invest in emerging technologies and we are going to pick startups that are coming out with right tools to enable these technologies in applications that have larger social impact. We will also look at scalability of operations in terms of licensing of technologies or intellectual property.”

Mantra will look at funding and supporting startups in medical services, those providing medical access, medical data management and medical devices, Jacobs added.

Venture services

In addition to funding, the company will provide offshore venture services and managed services to global startups. Venture services will help scout and curate the US and Indian startups for corporate innovation scaling programmes that will be launched in the second quarter of this year.

The Fund will also be partnering with global corporates and accelerators that will help startups’ Go-To-Market (GTM). Managed services will help startups scale by supporting in design, marketing, manufacturing, channel creation, GTM and merger & acquisitions. It will also help startups in securing equity and cash-based strategic tie-ups.

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