RB Investments, which has made a significant number of investments in India, believes in placing its bets on entrepreneurs, not on sectors. A venture capital firm, owned by Rashmi Bothra and her family and managed by professional investors, counts companies like makeup brand SUGAR Cosmetics, sportswear startup ALCIS, QSR chain The Beer Cafe, personal assistant app Tapzo, and travel firm TravelTriangle in its India portfolio.
In an interaction with DEALSTREETASIA, Harsh Bothra, principal, RB Investments, talks about the fund’s focus areas, future investment plans, and exits.
A significant part of RB Investments’ portfolio comprises Indian companies and you have been particularly active in the region in recent years. How do you view the investment landscape in India? What are the sectors that attract you most?
India is moving quickly towards the ‘golden periods’ of entrepreneurship that the US and China have seen in the past few decades. We are here to back these entrepreneurs, not the sector.
Could you share some significant updates from your portfolio firms in terms of potential future fundraising, hiring senior leadership, expansion in different markets and pursuing M&As?
RB Investments is not a traditional firm. We have never raised funds and have no future plans to do as of now. We are already in seven markets worldwide — India, Singapore, USA, Indonesia, Australia, UK and Thailand.
Could you explain to us the kind of potential deals that are in the sourcing pipeline? How is 2017 looking like in terms of deal volume and value for RB Investments?
If we find entrepreneurs having the same conviction and belief in themselves and their business, we back them. We do not have any targets or numbers to hit. We don’t entertain any deal flow but only invest in entrepreneurs; they then become part of our ecosystem. We shall be busy for next few years.
What are the other regions in Southeast Asia and Asia, in general, that you are skewed towards? What are the kind of sectors that you are looking at in the region?
Towards entrepreneurs and those who have strong value system and zeal to succeed.
Could you share your insights on the valuations, particularly in the consumer internet space that dominate your India investments?
It’s not today’s valuation that should concern one. It should be the potential of the company in 5-10 years. India’s penetration of e-commerce is growing at six million entrants each month.
Why does RB Investments focus on consumer internet in India? How is India compared to other markets?
Values are affordable, five years later it will become impossible to chase above opportunities; challenge in India is getting users to paying for convenience. Consumer will mature and valuation will multiply like the US, China , Indonesia etc.
What do you think of the exit potential?
Opportunities are always around but we want to back our entrepreneurs till they want us to be around.
How do the valuations compare between India and other Southeast Asian markets?
We don’t segregate regions or markets.
Has your investment theme changed over the years?
Themes, value and philosophies don’t change.
Do you foresee consolidation through M&A in portfolio firms across the regions?
Yes in the anxiety to create next big company, VCs have given birth to companies who are complimentary and overlapping with each other. M&A is essential to grow and capitalise on what has been built rather then competing with each other and burning cash.
You recently invested in a fintech company Instantpay, how do you view this as a sector?
We have invested in entrepreneur and incidentally he is from fintech space, we believe in all entrepreneurs.