Critical to conserve cash and ride out the storm, says GrowthStory’s K Ganesh

COVID-19 is taking a toll on dealmaking globally and India is no exception. In February, for instance, risk capital investors recorded a 24-month funding low, investing $1.7 billion in Indian startups.

In contrast, private equity and venture capital firms had invested as much as $2.8 billion in India in February last year, according to data from the Indian Private Equity and Venture Capital Association and consulting firm EY.

“Yes, transactions are taking more time… New discussions are not starting, except in rare cases,” said K Ganesh, serial entrepreneur, partner of GrowthStory.in, and promoter of online grocery store BigBasket, healthcare provider Portea Medical, and foodtech startup HungerBox. “Not just because of on-site due diligence getting delayed but also because everyone is busy handling some urgent priorities on their end. People are trying to close existing deals,” he said in a chat with DealStreetAsia.

Ganesh set up GrowthStory, a venture builder platform, in 2011 to focus on next-generation businesses. “The problems [that these companies are trying to solve] are everyday issues that consumers face in their lives surrounding core sectors such as grocery, food, healthcare, housing, among others,” he said.

“The idea was to look at a parallel entrepreneurship model, similar to the Rocket Internet business model. We look at next 5 to 10 years, what are the big themes, where is the maximum pain point, where can we build large businesses and create value.”

Today, Ganesh is also the promoter of Bluestone, an online jewellery store; HomeLane, an interior design startup; Housejoy, an online service provider that caters to all home needs; food tech startup Freshmenu; and Verloop.io, a conversational platform, among others.

“The challenge today is keeping track of changing consumer behaviour. Most of these businesses are pioneers and have no established role models to copy from. The talent pool has to be created from scratch, business practices have to be learnt and perfected and there is no prior playbook that can be copied. This means lots of mistakes, trials and errors before we come up with workable solutions. So it needs patience, stamina, capital and persistence.”

Among his portfolio companies, BigBasket recently made headlines for raising $50 million in debt funding from China’s e-commerce giant Alibaba. The new round came in shortly after the company raised $60 million as part of a new bridge round from existing investors Alibaba, Mirae Asset and CDC Group.

Edited excerpts of an interview with Ganesh:

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Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.