High-Stakes is a unique series that focuses on dissecting the investments of venture capital and private equity firms to gain insights into the portfolio of companies they’ve invested in, industries they focus on, and their investment process. In this edition of High-Stakes, we’ll be focusing on Kalaari Capital.
Founded in 2006, Kalaari is an early-stage, technology-focused venture capital firm. Since its inception, the Bengaluru, India-based firm has partnered early with founders and empowered them to build unique solutions that reshape the way Indians live, work, consume and transact.
Key members of the team:
Vani Kola– Managing Director
Post her successful stint as an entrepreneur in Silicon Valley for more than two decades, Vani now works with entrepreneurs to help them build and scale high-value enterprises. Vani, who currently serves on the board of several companies that are redefining the landscape of Indian business, has been recognised as one of Fortune India’s ‘Most Powerful Women in Business.’ She has successfully led more than 30 investments at Kalaari across diverse fields such as healthcare, e-commerce, gaming and digital content.
Rajesh Raju– Managing Director
In his two-decade-long career, Rajesh has had a broad set of experiences in the technology industry across M&A, equity research, private equity, product development and sales. The University of Chicago grad’s investment interests span consumer categories in retail, education and mobile. He is also a pioneer in investing in D2C companies in India.
Karthik Nageswaran– Chief Financial Officer
Karthik was one of the earliest members to have joined Kalaari, and over the past 12 years, he has handled a wide range of activities, including fund management, fund-governance, fund auditing, investor reporting, investor relations, portfolio management and exit management. Prior to joining Kalaari, he was the finance controller at Flextronics and has experience in investment banking, audit & finance control. Karthik works closely with the startups to help them set up financial processes and governance, assist them with audit needs, and guide them in senior finance executive hiring.
A total of 162 investments across 79 startups have been considered for this analysis, and the analysis is based on data from Crunchbase. The startups included are those for which adequate information exists, and this is by no means an exhaustive list of all the investments made by Kalaari. The total funding raised indicates the total amount of funding raised by the startups from Kalaari and various other investors across the different rounds that Kalaari has participated in. The estimated revenue range was available for 65 startups, and the funding amount was available for 149 investments.
The startups have been classified according to various industries based on data from Pitchbook, and the sector classification is based on Global Industry Classification Standard (GICS) developed by Morgan Stanley Capital International (MSCI) and Standard & Poor’s. The sector classification is subjective and has been made considering the sector/industry they closely resemble.
Kalaari’s investments span three countries- India, the US and Singapore. A majority (88%) of the funds have flowed to India, followed by the US with 11% and Singapore with 1%.
Analysing the funding rounds that Kalaari has participated in reveals interesting insights. While Series C bags the top spot in terms of the amount of funding (US$547 million), Series A is a clear winner when it comes to the number of investments (60). In terms of the amount of funding, Series D (US$ 404 million) and Series B (US$ 373 million) occupy the second and third ranks, respectively. Similarly, in terms of the number of investments, Series B (36) and Series C (22) occupy the second and third ranks, respectively.
A little more than 50% of the funds have gone towards the consumer discretionary sector (US$ 939 million). The sector is home to 25% of the startups. Internet retail (US$ 330 million) and education & training services (US$ 305 million) are the two prominent industries that have attracted 68% of the funds flowing to this sector.
Founded in 2016, Cult.Fit is a fitness-based online platform that helps users stay fit & healthy through a range of holistic offerings that include fitness and yoga, healthy meals, mental wellbeing and primary care. The startup also offers premium athleisure wear, online doctor consultations, and meditation & therapy sessions. Kalaari has participated in four funding rounds that totalled US$ 280 million between 2016 and 2019. Urban Ladder is an online furniture marketplace based in Bengaluru, India. The SAIF Partners-backed startup was founded in 2012 by Indian Institute of Technology grads- Ashish Goel and Rajiv Srivatsa. Urban Ladder was recently acquired by Reliance Retail Ventures Limited (RRVL), a subsidiary of the Indian conglomerate Reliance Industries Limited. The deal involved RRVL buying a 96% stake in the startup for a cash consideration of Rs 182.12 crores (~US$ 25 million); RRVL also proposed making a further investment of Rs 75 crores (~US$ 10 million) by Dec 2023. Kalaari participated in six rounds between 2012 and 2018, where the startup raised US$ 104 million. Other investors include Sequoia Capital India and Steadview Capital.
The industrial sector has attracted 13% of the funds or US$ 222 million and is home to 5% of the startups. Prominent industries include logistics (US$ 132 million) and automotive (US$ 66 million), which accounted for 89% of the funds flowing to this sector.
ElasticRun is a logistics and distribution platform that enables businesses to reach 10 million rural mom & pop (Kirana) stores. Through crowdsourced logistics, store aggregation, and brand aggregation, ElasticRun aims to unlock the US$ 600 billion rural consumption opportunity. The startup has raised US$ 132 million across five rounds between 2016 and 2021. In its latest funding round, it had a pre-money valuation of US$ 325 million. It is backed by Norwest Venture Partners, InnoVen Capital, Avataar Venture Partners and Prosus Ventures. Founded in 2016, Vogo is an online scooter renting platform that allows people to rent scooters for short one-way trips at various locations across the city and let them locate, unlock and pick up scooters from one point to another without the need for a docking station. The startup has raised close to US$ 66 million across four rounds and is backed by investors such as Matrix Partners India, Stellaris Venture Partners and Lightrock.
The information technology sector has attracted 12% of the funds or US$ 207 million and is home to 22% of the startups. Prominent industries in this sector include database software (US$ 75 million) and business/productivity software (US$ 57 million) that together account for 64% of the funds flowing to this sector.
Founded in 2020, Simpli Contract is a SaaS-based contract management platform that covers the entire lifecycle from request to renewal and all types of contracts. Kalaari led the startup’s seed round, where it raised US$ 1.8 million from investors such as Picus Capital and Arka Venture Labs. Zluri is a SaaS operations management platform that helps manage software application stacks. The startup helps enterprises manage their ever-growing subscription-based software stacks, enabling them to optimize their spending and manage contracts and renewals. In a recent round led by Kalaari Capital and Endiya Partners, the startup raised US$ 2 million.
Overall, Kalaari has participated in rounds totalling US$ 1.77 billion and has made 162 investments across 79 startups. A majority of the startups remain private (72%), and around 20% have been acquired or merged, while the rest have gone public (1%) or closed down (6%). Kalaari has been very active in the past five years and has made 1.55 times more investments in the current five year period when compared to the period between 2010 to 2015.
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