Wipro to invest in in-house Startups

Wipro, India's third largest IT services company has $100-million corporate venture arm that invests in startups, has decided to also functions like an in-house venture capitalist that funds ideas from within the company through a programme called Horizon Investment Programme or H2H3 (Horizon 2, Horizon 3) Investment Program, to nurture ideas coming from various business units that have the potential to scale up over a two or three-year timeframe and generate substantial revenues.

The move is an encouragement for employees who think up such ideas, as also potentially a booster for the company given the need to differentiate itself from rivals such as Infosys in particular. Under this, the central strategic office of Wipro, headed by the chief strategy officer Rishad Premji, invests in ideas that are mooted by business units or verticals in a venture capital (VC)-like fashion.

As per reports, Wipro has so far invested around $1-2 million each in 50 ideas, mainly in areas the company believes would be future growth drivers. Wipro is investing in innovation in cognitive technologies, artificial intelligence, man-machine interface, robotics, smart devices and open source. The company believes that the ideas may not be revenues-accretive right now, but have the potential to do so in two to five years.

Recently, the program funded the idea of a commodities trading and risk management (CTRM) platform that has the goal to grow to a $50-million practice in three years. CTRM is expected to drive growth across the banking and energy and utilities verticals. Bangalore startup Eka Software has a very successful commodities platform.

By the end of 2012 fiscal, 28 ideas were rolled back into the business units out of which 9 ideas generated revenues. A performance-management solution was one of the successful ideas; it used analytics to predict outcomes for data sourced from insurance companies. The solution brought revenues of around $0.75 million in the first year of incubation. By the third year, it recorded $33 million in revenues and was rolled back into the BFSI unit.

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