(from left) Jatin Desai and Venkat Vallabhaneni, managing partners at Inflexor Ventures
Inflexor Ventures is a technology-focussed venture capital firm with about a third of its investments comprising made-in-India tech products for global markets.
Founding partners Venkat Vallabhaneni and Jatin Desai both started out as engineers and collectively bring to their work decades of experience in running large enterprise tech operations.
“There is a different connotation of deeptech in India, in our view,” Vallabhaneni says. “If you define technology readiness levels for deeptech companies, we look for probably around TRL-7 kind of readiness, whereas globally the funds are open to a bit earlier as well,” he says.
The Technology Readiness Scale was originally developed by scientists, including those at Nasa, where on a scale of one to nine (and sometimes one to 10), a TRL-7 represents at least a prototype that isn’t too far from initial commercialisation. “We try to pick (deeptech) companies that at least have some initial product market fit, so at least the (early) R&D phase has passed,” Desai adds.
With this slightly broader way of identifying deeptech companies, Inflexor has backed startups in areas, including software products, 5G solutions, augmented reality, computer vision, and even agritech.
“There are multiple models emerging, and agritech is an example of made in India (deeptech) for India,” Vallabhaneni says. Inflexor has invested in a company called BioPrime Agrisolutions, which is developing bio solutions to make crops more resilient to stressors, including climate change.
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And once the tech is well demonstrated, these startups don’t necessarily have to sell on their own. Opportunities are arising now for Indian deeptech startups to partner larger, established businesses to hit the market, he adds.