Azim Premji Foundation backs Binny Bansal’s VC fund

Binny Bansal (File Photo)

Former CEO of Flipkart, Binny Bansal’s early stage venture capital fund – 021 Capital – has roped in Wipro chairman’s Azim Premji Foundation as an institutional investor, or limited partner (LP), besides getting on board technology executives from India and Silicon Valley.

With these investments, 021 has made the first close of about $32 million (Rs 222 crore), with over a third of the corpus coming from half a dozen current and former executives of the Flipkart group.

The fund was launched in 2017 by Bansal’s financial adviser Sailesh Tulshan.

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Some of the others on the LP list include Myntra and Curefit cofounder Mukesh Bansal, MakeMyTrip India chief executive Rajesh Magow, PhonePe’s Sameer Nigam and Rahul Chari, Myntra CEO Ananth Narayanan and former Flipkart executive Mekin Maheshwari, the Economic Times reported quoting three unnamed people who are familiar with the development.

Former senior Facebook and Dropbox executives Ruchi Sanghvi and Aditya Agarwal have also invested in the fund, said one of the people.

The Bengaluru-based firm is targeting a final close of $50 million by the end of the year. The fundraising comes at a time when Bansal is ramping up his investment activities after his exit from Flipkart.

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The Flipkart cofounder resigned abruptly from his position as group CEO at India’s most valued ecommerce unicorn after allegations of ‘personal misconduct’. Walmart said those charges weren’t found to be true.

While Bansal has backed other venture capital funds including pi Ventures, Blume Ventures and India Quotient in the past, he is closely aligned with 021 given his association with Tulshan. A former wealth manager with Client Associates and HDFC Bank, Tulshan has been advising Flipkart founders Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal on their personal investments through his multifamily office Tsai Shen Capital, the financial daily reported.

Binny Bansal is the largest investor in 021, which is named after the book ‘Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future’. Written in 2014 by PayPal cofounder and venture capitalist Peter Thiel along with Blake Masters, chief operating officer of Thiel Capital, it is considered one of the most successful books on startups.

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021 Capital has already made at least six investments, including in biotech startup Pandorum Technologies and Ycook, which makes organic ready-to-cook food. The fund is now looking at startups in areas like artificial intelligence, biotech, agricultural technology, supply chain & logistics and consumer Internet as it aims to build a portfolio of about 15 ventures.

Bansal has also invested in and taken the role of executive chairman at xto10x Technologies, a company founded by former McKinsey consultant Saikiran Krishnamurthy which will offer technology tools, learning and consulting services to growth-stage startups, as reported by ET.

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