Startups targeting Indian millennials to continue growing amid slowdown, says Fireside Ventures’s Singh

Kanwaljit Singh, founder and managing partner, Fireside Ventures. Photo: Mint

Bengaluru-headquartered Fireside Ventures is betting on India’s evolving consumer story that is being redefined by the country’s large population of millennials.

“The idea is to invest in startups that innovate to cater to the Indian millennial. After all, consumption is getting disrupted from one-shoe-fits-all to different consumers having different consumption patterns and equally different expectations,” said Fireside Ventures founder and managing partner Kanwaljit Singh.

The venture capital firm is currently in advanced talks to raise as much as $100 million for its second fund to invest in early-stage consumer-focused startups. Singh said the second fund will close soon but declined to divulge further details.

A focus on India’s consumer story is not new for Singh, a former Unilever executive. Sensing the opportunity in the space, he launched an exclusive consumer-focused fund in 2016, months after stepping down from a firm he co-founded, Helion Venture Partners.

“Over the years, particularly after 2010, I realized that there was a seminal shift happening in the market, which was being driven by both macro and infrastructural factors led by a dynamic digital ecosystem. And I realized that consumer segment could be an interesting area to pursue from the perspective of a standalone fund,” Singh said in an interview.

Interestingly, for the first Fireside fund that had a corpus of Rs 340 crore, Singh had garnered capital from a slew of investors such as Westbridge Capital, besides a bouquet of family offices including those of Marico chairman Harsh Mariwala and RP-Sanjiv Goenka, and corporates such as Emami, Hero Enterprise Investment Office and ITC. “They all bought into the story that there is something happening at the ground level and they wanted to be a part of it,” added Singh.

Going forward, it is understood that Fireside Ventures is looking to raise capital from both domestic and international investors while a part of the capital could also be pumped in by its existing investors. Recently, the firm made headlines when it raised an ‘undisclosed amount’ from French cosmetics giant L’Oréal for its upcoming fund.

The firm has so far invested in 18 early-stage businesses across the consumer wallet. “As much as 80 per cent of the investible corpus of fund 1 has being deployed … the rest 20 per cent we have reserved for follow-ons,” said Singh.

Edited excerpts of the interview:-

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