Early-stage seed fund Astarc Ventures plans to invest about $3 million this year in about 10 start-ups, the company's Executive Director Salil Musale told Business Today in an interview.
"As a group, we want to invest in start-ups that are strategic to our current business. We are strongly looking at investing in automotive, retail, real estate and agriculture sectors because we want to understand what are the other services that we could give to our current set of customers", Musale said.
A strategic investment arm of diversified Astarc Group, the seed fund was launched in late 2014 with a capital of $2 million and has invested in six start-ups so far. The biggest investment by the fund was in online home decor solutions firm Foyr for Rs 6 crore, while it has invested Rs 2-3 crore in the other companies.
"Besides Foyr, we have invested in TravelKhana, Absentia, PharmEasy and two other start-ups and are in talks with three other companies," Musale informed.
Though Musale did not disclose the names of three companies they plan to invest in, he said that they are from the fields of consumer transport, pharmaceutical and fashion retail.
The company is also looking to invest in technology start-ups outside India this year, specifically in the UK, Israel and in Silicon Valley, and is tying up with accelerators and incubators in these countries.
To decide whether they want to invest in an idea or not, the fund tries to find out if they are proven and pilot-tested on customers.
"We see that if the idea or product is of any relevance in our industry. If not, then we see if they are doing something very disruptive, for example virtual reality, 3D printing, financial technology and healthcare," Musale said, explaining the fund's criteria for choosing a venture.
"Entrepreneurs or founders have to be very passionate about their idea and have a large vision. Also the market for the product or service should be large whether it's a B2C service or product or B2B (business to business)," Musale explained.
Besides funding, the fund also helps the entrepreneurs in networking and assists them in forming a strategy for their businesses.