Dave McClure, founder of Silicon Valley-based accelerator and early-stage venture fund 500 Startups, is more than doubling his bets on the India’s startup ecosystem. Having invested in over 50 startups in the country in the last four years — 24 of them last year alone— McClure says he would like to invest in 30 to 50 Indian startups a year.
On an average, 500 Startups has made around 10 to 15 investments in India per year. “It would be easy to pull off 30 to 50 a year. There is an opportunity for us to do 100 a year if we have more number of people on the ground. We are definitely going to push the pedal forward in the number of investments we are going to do in India,” McClure said at the concluding session at the two-day startup and technology conference SURGE, in Bengaluru.
Given his bullishness on the Indian market, McClure’s 500 Startups is looking at an India-focussed fund, something which the venture capitalist had planned to start three years ago. “The market environment was a lot negative then. Now, a number of things have changed considerably—the Modi-led government has had a much more business focus; and with large companies like SoftBank and Alibaba coming in, it has provided a lot of confidence for early-stage investors,” McClure said.
While he did not elaborate on his plans for an India-focussed fund, he said, “Very soon, we will make an announcement on what we will be doing in India.”
In the initial years of its operations in India, 500 Startups was very cautious about not investing in startups that were focussed on the domestic market. Instead, it was looking at global stories—in particular those of SaaS (software as a service) based companies, which primarily serviced the US market. “In the last few years we are looking not just at those businesses, but companies in sectors such as education, healthcare services, and financial technology,” said McClure.
Some of 500 Startups’s portfolio companies in India include PriceBaba, CultureAlley, EduKart, OnlineTyari, Sheroes, SocialCops. “We have had a few exits that have been decent, ZipDial in particular,” added McClure. He also mentioned that he was “very excited” about CultureAlley, which has a free English learning mobile application known as Hello English app.