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“Exits Are Rare In India. When One Comes Along, You Take It”: Phanindra Sama – StartupCentral

On Friday, Phanindra Sama, Sudhakar Pasupunuri and Charan Padmaraju, founders of Bangalore-based Pilani Soft Labs, which runs online bus ticketing platform redBus, became richer by a few million dollars. South African Internet and media conglomerate Naspers sealed a deal to acquire redBus for an undisclosed amount, through its subsidiary Ibibo Group (MIH India). Various media reports put the deal size at anywhere between $100 million and $135 million. The acquisition creates very profitable exits for redBus’ venture capital backers Seedfund, Helion Venture Partners and Inventus Capital who invested a combined $8 million in the company over multiple stages. At the reported valuation of more than $100 million, the acquisition also spells the first mega venture capital exit to come out of Bangalore’s startup ecosystem, specifically in the Internet sector. We spoke to Phanindra Sama over the weekend about the deal, remaining ‘independent’ and the competitive environment. Edited excerpts: redBus’ acquisition has taken a lot of people by surprise. What tipped the scales in Naspers’ favour? Actually, six months ago if you had asked me, there was nothing of the sort on the cards. This whole thing (the acquisition) in some sense also took us by surprise, though a pleasant one. Since we had financial investors on board it was our responsibility to create an exit for them. There are only two ways to exit. Either through an IPO or through the M&A route. The IPO route takes a longer time. There were several other investors who wanted to buy out our…

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