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Ratan Tata and University of California to fund Indian startups over the next 10 years


RNT Associates, the privately held investment firm of Ratan Tata has partnered with the chief investment officer’s office of the University of California, to jointly fund startups and enterprises in India over the next 10 years, reports the Mint.

The new partnership will look to invest in various sectors, including healthcare, alternate energy etc. However, it did not disclose how much the fund will invest in each startup, or the startup selection procedure. Note that Ratan Tata has generally invested in startups that have already raised a significant round of funding, rather than participating in seed or early-stage funding.

Ratan Tata investments: Last month, coupons and cashback deal website Cashkaro raised an undisclosed amount in funding from Ratan Tata. Other than this, he has invested in over a dozen startups over the last year or so in his personal capacity, although the amount has never been disclosed. These include startups from varying fields including UrbanClap, Holachef, predictive analytics firm Infinite Analytics, YourStory, Lybrate, Ola, women’s fashion portal Kaaryah and Paytm. Full list of his investments.

Kalaari Capital advisor: Other than this, Tata also joined the venture capital firm Kalaari Capital in an advisory role in February last year. Interestingly, Kalaari has also invested in some of the startups Tata has; BlueStone had raised $10 million investment led by Kalaari Capital with participation from existing investors like Accel Partners and Saama Capital in March 2014. Urban Ladder had raised $21 million from Steadview Capital, and existing investors SAIF Partners and Kalaari Capital in July 2014. The venture capital had also participated in investing in Snapdeal, when the company raised $133.7 million in a round headed by eBay in 2014.

MediaNama’s take: Businesses have brand ambassadors, startups have brand investors. It’s difficult to ascertain what Ratan Tata brings to a startup apart from the PR that follows, and maybe, given what has followed in case of some investments like Snapdeal, easier access to partnerships with Tata Group companies. However, while the details of the new initiative are a little are scant, Tata might be finally looking to get into the riskier business of seed and angel funding.

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