Last year, Anil Kumar, a technology executive who spent more than 11 years working at Microsoft and other technology companies in Seattle, returned to India to live. He said he wanted to be closer to his family, and to take advantage of how much cheaper it is to start a company in India than in the U.S.
“I started looking at how people take care of their TVs and cars much better than their health, and it was a motivation for me to start thinking about how to make health care more interactive,” he said.
The result, SmartCloud Technologies, doing business as SmartRX, is a cloud-based software platform that uses mobile devices to update patients on their care after they leave the hospital, extending their care in a way that wasn’t possible before.
The software is now being tested in Seattle Children’s Hospital, among other places, and SmartRX plans to bring in angel investors from Singapore and Silicon Valley to close the company’s first funding round as part of a “truly collaborative model here, where early-stage funds and angels from different continents come together to build global technology companies,” said Ventureast Tenet Fund Managing Partner Sateesh Andra.
Board members include an Indian cardiologist, Ventureast Venture Partner Ramesh Byrapaneni, who said he left medicine after 35 years of practice to become an investor because he thought that helping to create innovative companies would have a bigger impact on patients.
SmartRX is one of several Indian companies that quickly became global, a trend that both U.S. and Indian investors are now exploiting.
Last year, Ventureast Tenet Fund, an Indian seed stage fund, hired Andra, formerly a venture partner with Draper Fisher Jurvetson, to invest in Indian companies, taking advantage of a growing Indian economy and a growing number of Indian technologists like Kumar who are returning home.
General Atlantic this month hired four new investors in India with an eye toward investing in global companies, and India’s Eka Software Solutions, which is backed by Nexus Venture Partners and makes commodity trading and risk-management software, acquired a Canadian company, EnCompass Technologies.
Ventureast’s portfolio companies have tended to be global from the beginning, and another one of the firm’s recent investments–Seclore Technology, which was founded out of India Institute of Technology Bombay to help companies control who has access to sensitive corporate information—also illustrates this trend.
More than half of Seclore’s customers were outside of India from the company’s first day, according to Andra.
“The Facebooks and Skypes of the U.S. are the Facebooks and Skypes of India too–when companies are gaining traction in Silicon Valley, they’re used even in India or Europe or Egypt or Turkey,” and the reverse will be true as well, Andra said. “…Customers are open to adopting technology if it works for them and the price is right.”
Seclore has won several global corporate customers, including Daimler and Panasonic, for software that lets companies constantly monitor and control the use of documents, emails, designs and images, determining whether they can be printed, copied, distributed or even timed out so that they disappear off a user’s device.
Although Seclore has several U.S. competitors, it’s taken a smart, layered approach to its architecture that avoids dependence on other applications so that it can stay current regardless of any changes that other software vendors make, according to Raghu Mendu, general partner of Ventureast Proactive Fund, another Seclore investor.
Helion Venture Partners, which led Seclore’s $6 million Series A round, will also help Seclore expand from Europe and Asia into the North American market.
One advantage of building a company in India is that there’s a large pool of technically qualified people, said Seclore Chief Executive Vishal Gupta, even though India is still seen by some people as a services and outsourcing center for North American companies–a perception that Gupta said will change as more Indian companies emerge.
Building companies in India is still challenging—DFJ Managing Director Mohanjit Jolly, in an interview with Venture Capital Dispatch, cited roving shutdowns that can occur because of a protest on fuel prices, for instance, or the death of a movie star or politician–but the country has changed a lot since the late 1980s, when venture capitalists wouldn’t look at Indian companies, Mendu said.