Reliance on board as limited partner in Kalaari Capital’s 4th fund


Bengaluru/Mumbai: Industries Ltd. (RIL) has come on board as an anchor limited partner (LP) in Kalaari Capital’s fourth fund, said Vani Kola, the founder and managing director of the domestic venture capital firm, in an email to startup founders and investors.

ET has reviewed a copy of the email.

In the email, Kola said Kalaari, which has backed e-commerce companies such as Myntra, Snapdeal and Urban Ladder, was “honoured to have RIL as an anchor LP or limited partner in its recent fund” and that the two firms shared a “common enthusiasm” for investments in startups and the digital development of Bharat.

“I felt it was important to discover and develop the Indian LP base for the long-term viability of our industry. My interactions with RIL senior management inspired me to request them to consider being an LP at Kalaari… Their thorough diligence, fair terms and transparent process met our expectations of a blue-chip LP,” Kola, a long-time investor in India’s thriving consumer internet sector, said in the email.

The communication to a wide set of stakeholders in the startup and venture community comes at a time when industry watchers have raised concerns over
Reliance’s backing of the venture capital fund and possible conflict of interest that it may throw up.

“Our LPs are financial investors and have no special rights in invested companies,” she said in the email, adding that the fund offers standard investment terms to founders, removing any onerous burden on their path to building successful businesses.

Further, Kola said in the email that the firm had brought on board investment principals including Kiran Vasireddy, Vamshi Reddy and Ravinder Singh. Kalaari Capital had also made investments in SaaS startups like Zluri, Simplicontract, Muzigal, a platform for music learning, and Chara, she added.

The Economic Times reported on February 23 that a subsidiary of Reliance Industries—Jio Platforms—
was finalising a $100 million investment in Kalaari Capital, with a further commitment of $100 million over the next 12 months.

Kola did not respond to ET’s queries seeking comment.

Over the past few years, RIL has acquired a bunch of Kalaari’s portfolio firms, including online furniture retailer
Urban Ladder, lingerie retailer Zivame, edtech startup
Embibe and chatbot firm
Haptik. Urban Ladder and Zivame had been fire sales at highly depressed valuations, with most investors losing money.

Jio-AcquisitionsETtech

(Graphic: Rahul Awasthi/ETtech)

ET reported on January 8 how Kalaari, the largest stakeholder in online grocery firm Milkbasket,
sold its entire 15.26% holding to a firm owned by a known associate of Mukesh Ambani and Reliance—Mahendra Nahata-led MN Televentures.

The move ended all attempts by the startup, which had been competing with stronger peers in the hyperlocal delivery space, to raise capital from outside investors or sell to companies other than the Mumbai-based conglomerate.

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