Back in 2008, when Flipkart was operating out of a two-storey house in Kormangala area of Bangalore, its co-founders Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal were hunting for investors and was getting number of rejections from investors including Accel Partners but eventually they managed to grab Rs.60 lakh from Accel in 2009.
In the same year, they met Ashish Gupta, co-founder of Helion Venture Partners and co-founder of price comparison site Junglee, which was sold to Amazon for $240 million in 1998. Ashish pitched in with ₹10 lakh from his own pocket, making him the first angel investor in Flipkart.
Now, after almost a decade, Ashish stands to make roughly $20 million ( ~ ₹137 crores) from a deal of Walmart’s $16 billion buyout of Flipkart.
Ashish Gupta is founder of venture capital firm Helion Ventures, which was dismantled in 2016 after a string of executives left to launch their own funds. But what’s not known is Gupta is also one of the most successful angel investors in India.
Apart from Flipkart, Gupta has made several clever and intuitive bets, including MuSigma and MakeMyTrip. In his key exits, at least three of his investments in India have yielded big gains — Makemytrip went public (IPO) in 2010, Merittrac was bought by Manipal in 2016, and cloud computing platform Minjar was bought by Nutanix this year.
Ashish’s past investments include Daksh (sold to IBM), Obongo (sold to AOL), Tavant Technologies, Mu Sigma, FlipKart (sold to Walmart), Kaboodle (sold to Hearst), Make My Trip (IPO – MMYT), Odesk – now Upwork, Perfios, Metric Stream (sold to Manipal), Tenet (sold to Hughes), Snapfish (sold to HP), Danastreet (sold to Netscreen), Speedera (sold to akamai).
“Ashish has had a great track record as an angel investor and has made several smart bets that have paid off in a big way over the years. He’s had a knack of spotting and betting on smart ideas and founders,” said Abhishek Goyal, founder of Tracxn.
Ashish is a US citizen, a PhD from Stanford University in California, and a computer science graduate from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur. After selling Junglee, he worked at Amazon for a while.
Gupta, a US citizen, is a PhD from Stanford University in California, and a computer science graduate from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur. After selling Junglee, he worked at Amazon for a while.
In 2000, Gupta and his wife Nita Goel, whom he met at Stanford, founded Tavant Technologies with two others. Gupta then did a Kauffman Fellows Programme to study the VC business. Two years on, he joined the Woodside fund, an early stage VC firm in Silicon Valley. He then founded Helion in 2006.
Gupta continued to make angel investments. In 2009, he wrote a cheque of ₹10 lakh to Flipkart when it raised its first-ever round of capital from Accel Partners, which had agreed to invest $1 million in three tranches. In the first tranche that amounted to ₹70 lakh, Gupta contributed ₹10 lakh. That bet will now yield $18-20 million.
Gupta stands to make an even bigger killing from his bet on software maker MuSigma in which he again made an angel investment, albeit a larger one than his Flipkart bet, and got an exit at roughly $50 million.
And even though Helion failed as a VC firm, Gupta is still respected and liked by entrepreneurs and investors alike.
“Ashish is one of the best investors I’ve ever met, both from an institutional and angel perspective. He’s usually 5-7 years ahead of the curve when it comes to betting on ideas. He likes to focus more on underlying trends than on what is happening right now. Most importantly, Ashish likes to genuinely help entrepreneurs and founders and work with them—and he doesn’t do it for money,” said Rahul Chowdhri, partner at Stellaris Venture Partners. Chowdhri was a colleague of Gupta’s at Helion.
Via – Hindustan Times | Top Image – TheHindu.com
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