bertelsmann funding: Bertelsmann raises $500 million to deploy in India

Bertelsmann India Investments (BII), the venture capital investment arm of Germany-headquartered media firm Bertelsmann SE & Co. KGaA, has raised $500 million to be invested in India over the next few years.

The growth stage-focused firm that does not have an India-dedicated fund but invests out of the parent’s balance sheet will now look to do early stage deals, Pankaj Makkar, managing director, Bertelsmann India Investments told ET in an interaction.

The allocation comes at a time when other venture capital firms, like Sequoia Capital India, Accel India, Matrix Partners, and Elevation Capital, have stepped up their India efforts and gathered greater pools of capital to be used in the region.

“We will be writing larger cheques owing to the increased entry level-valuations. The larger pool gives us the ability to back portfolio firms longer,” Makkar said.

It makes investments in a multitude of sectors, including enterprise tech, agritech, healthtech, and fintech. BII is a division of Bertelsmann Investments, which has put more than $1.06 billion into more than 250 businesses and funds so far. AgroStar, Lets Transport, Lendingkart, Rupeek, and Pepperfry are just a few of its other portfolio companies.

The company, whose portfolio includes unicorns like Eruditus and Licious, plans to make six to eight additional investments each year. Out of the $300 million in its initial pool, it has so far invested in 16 startups. Some of these investments were through the fund route (investing in a fund) and the rest were direct investments.

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“If a fund investment makes strategic sense, then we will continue to back them. In that sense, the investment mandate remains the same,” Makkar added.

With the launch of its early stage investment programme, Bertelsmann joins a list of top tier VC funds that are now going in early to back great founders. Firms such as Sequoia, Chiratae,

among others have started their seed-stage programmes. Bertelsmann will however look at backing companies at Series A investment level, Makkar said.

“We want to partner with firms that have raised seed investments from these marquee funds, In that sense, the funnel then gets curated with quality founders and companies that have been mentored early on come to raise Series A,” Makkar said. The firm until now backed companies from Series B up to late stage.

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