Balancing the Old and the brand new

Industrialist Akshaypat Singhania, fourth generation scion of the Singhania family discusses his plans of investing INR 100-crore in startups, and shaping the business enterprise

What resulted in your interest in startups?

I hail in one of India’s premier business families. The family environment was an all natural catalyst, drawing me toward businesses, their creation and creating value for not only business stakeholders also for society. There is absolutely no particular moment that led me on the road that I took however in today’s environment startups will be the ones discovering great ideas because of this age. This is why I would like to back them, not only with money but also mentoring.

Just how many and the type of startups searching to purchase?

Ideally, my ticket size for investment will be between $2-4 million per startup. However, it isn’t the quantity of startups that I spend money on which is important however the quality, uniqueness and earning capacity of the business enterprise. For the moment I have reserve Rs 100 crore and I am focusing mainly on lifestyle, F&B, healthcare, media and entertainment.

Will there be a period period by when this fund will be committed to the startups?

Again, no. I don’t want to rush the investments. I’d favour careful homework and invest better.

What exactly are your selection criteria for choosing a startup to purchase?

I am looking for companies with strong commitment, that have sustained profitable growth, plus they should have an excellent understanding of the business enterprise model and knowledge of future trends. The model should rest on a deep knowledge of the business enterprise and deliver positive social impact.

Following the Rs 100 crore fund is put to use to purchase startups, would you further venture out and raise funds to place these startups right into a selfsustaining mode? Or continue making use of your own proprietary capital?

I am primarily buying startups, which are cash positive, and their cash needs for next 2-3 years hopefully will be taken care by the funds I’ve earmarked. However, if needs arise I’d most probably to raising funds to place the business enterprise on a self-sustaining mode.

Aside from money, how many other support can a startup expect from JK International?

The knowledge I bring about the table because of twenty years of managing various businesses in my own family company Raymond, has taught me a whole lot. The same would help me mentor and nurture the startups, it also is a learning experience for me personally aswell. I follow the mantra of ‘invest and intensify’. I really do not plan to only invest and await investments to understand, but also use my very own experience to help the business enterprise grow larger to create a professional team, implement better processes, strengthen usage of technology also to infuse transparency in the machine so the business can strive ceaselessly for growth and efficiency.

What according for you will be the challenges faced by the upcoming startups in healthcare and F&B industries?

There is room for everybody. The Indian market is big. For startups of any sort, the largest challenge that I see is usage of capital, management system and folks. Do you think there exists a need for a recognised businessman like you to aid the emerging startups? Certainly, it seems sensible for folks like me to take action. And I believe that’s happening. Not many people are discussing their investments but many like me are supporting exciting startups.

(This article was initially published in the January 2019 problem of Entrepreneur Magazine. A subscription, just click here)

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