Here’s what we learned at Blume’s first Product Meet-up in Gurgaon

Bringing like-minded people under one roof is always magical, especially when they are open to sharing honest stories and keen to learn from others. At Blume, we are committed to creating such forums where our portfolio leaders get to learn from each other and the larger ecosystem.

Keeping this in mind, Blume recently hosted a Product Meet-up in Gurgaon,  inviting product leaders across Delhi NCR to attend and share key experiences and learnings from their product journeys. We had Ankur Sharma (Senior Director – Products, Goibibo.com) for a chat and Q&A session moderated by Dhruv Mathur, Co-founder, LBB.

The attendees included product heads and managers from Blume portfolio companies such as Milkbasket, Squad, E2E Networks, Cashify, and LBB. In addition, there were product heads from other startups such as ThisForThat, NearBuy and Squirrel. All in all a good healthy mix of B2B and B2C companies.

Here are some key insights from the chat session with Ankur Sharma.

1.Using consumer psychology in the B2C funnel.

Ankur shared how we can use elements of consumer psychology in constructing the B2C funnel and moving the customer along the funnel.

He shared Daniel Kahneman’s (2002 Nobel Prize winner in Economics) concept of System1 and System2 thinking. System1 is fast, instinctive and emotional thinking whereas System 2 is slower, more deliberative, and more logical. In a B2C consumer funnel, he suggests using System1 to spur actions from consumers, e.g., when a consumer see only two rooms left (while booking a hotel room), he feels the need to quickly book one. That’s the loss aversion bias kicking in because of System1.

System2 is typically seen when the consumer has to take a high priced decision like booking an international flight. To ensure that the customer doesn’t think and rethink the decision, at Goibibo.com they avoid showing fare prediction for international flights. He goes on to say if there is a conflict between System1 vs System2 the user will drop off. At every step of the funnel, your product needs to help consumers make a decision faster and that will only happen when their System1 is activated.

2. Product Pricing

Ankur shared that though at top & bottom of the funnel, Product Managers have started participating solving Marketing and CX challenges (example: referral programs, chat-bots), there are still not too many PMs solving pricing & selection problems inside the funnel, via product intervention. Product folks think pricing is somebody else’s problem but he thinks pricing is a funnel problem can be solved with PMs proactively inserting themselves into the problem statement of better pricing and selection for the customer. He felt eventually products with shallow P&L will move from discounting led experience to value led experience, purely focussed on price. Ankur shared that to learn about pricing & how to price your product better, one should learn how to read the P&L (Profit & Loss) statements or company financials, then learn about consumer psychology, and finally put them together to better price the product.

3. Decision-making matrix for Product Managers

Ankur stumbled upon this decision-making matrix (see below) a couple of years back and feels it can be used by product managers to be more productive.

He shared that product managers should spend considerably more time on consequential and irreversible decisions. In the case of reversible and consequential decisions, he felt these are the perfect areas to run experiments and gather information.


Ojasvi Bhatia from Facebook, Ankur Sharma from Goibibo.com and Shantanu Singh from E2E exchanging notes

The insightful discussion was followed by the attendees mingling and interacting amongst each other for over an hour. At Blume, we want to continuously engage with the ecosystem and make it a part of our core culture. We will be having similar events for Tech leaders and other verticals very soon across Gurgaon / Delhi, Bangalore and Mumbai. Follow @blumeventures on twitter to know about these events.

Vokal – The Largest Knowledge-Sharing Platform For India’s Non-English Speaking Segment

When Aprameya told me he had originally narrowed in on audio and rich media, targeted only at regional languages as the area that he wanted to solve for, I was elated. While there will be many winners in the space, I was glad that one of our breakout Fund I founders was choosing a difficult and valuable problem to solve for. From TaxiforSure to Vokal, Aprameya has loved pondering about what he can tackle at massive scale, and deliver massive impact.

It was as long ago as early 2015 when I penned a piece for YourStory on the Vinglish Internet. While vernacular and social crept into popular startup parlance about 18 months ago, we, at Blume, saw this as inevitable. The surge of content consumption prompted by Jio took even ardent believers like us by surprise.

While existing video content platforms from TV and Youtube and early leaders like OML, TVF, etc took advantage of the Jio-led explosion and while some platforms like ShareChat (over the last year or so) and DailyHunt (from years) had an early start in the space, it was also inevitable that dozens of content platforms were yet to be born. Aprameya quickly assembled a team that was equally passionate about the problem to be solved for the next 500 million internet users and chipped away at the iterations that would bring Vokal to its current avatar. (It’s no different for any of the regional language platforms that have been built mobile first for this large and exciting new user base – lots of tinkering needed to keep evolving with the customers’ needs and engagement). We have also pushed forward on this thesis on other formats, backing stellar founders like Gaurav Munjal (founder of FlatChat) and the team at Unacademy and Sumit Jain (founder of CommonFloor) and the team at Opentalk.

We’ve always enjoyed our joint investments with Accel and we are also doubly delighted to welcome Shunwei on this leg of the journey in what is our 3rdco-investment.

We are all believers in the team’s passion to find an answer to what a Quora and a Twitter will struggle to solve for, for this new found Indian Internet audience – the questions and concerns and views that they have. As a platform that finds answers, addresses their daily questions and builds an emotional connect that an interactive medium provides very differently from broadcast mediums (which were the only scaled choices that customers had in these languages before), we are excited to see Vokal build towards the massive scale opportunity that exists here.

November Rain – Chronicling A Recent Blumiers Valley Visit

Fresh after returning from a valley trip, that centered around the annual Draper Venture Network (DVN) Summit and also spanned an Investor conference and meetings in SE Asia/Far East, here’s a blog post chronicling some of the thoughts, learnings, and takeaways that emerged.

1. A resurgent interest in India VC and the massive consumer opportunity.

  • In contrast to the last few years, it was interesting to see the LP community with a far lesser “China overhang”, viewing India as a distinct market
  • New role models from well known unicorn / category leaders (Oyo, Swiggy, Zomato etc) that are putting India-tech more firmly on the world map
  • Delete this entire point “While numbers were always well known within India (>250M mobile subscribers, massive impact of 4G…”
  • Chinese interest from beyond the BAT trio – from the next new set of players – Internet rising stars like Meituan, Xiaomi and investors such as Shunwei, CDH, Morningside, M31 and more
  • Initial success in penetrating the SE Asian market from startups like Capillary and our own Healthifyme, Locus, Belong, and Tricog

2. B2B evolving beyond Enterprise/SaaS

In a sense, our Grey Orange [Robotics] and Carbon Clean Solutions were two early plays that could be considered ahead of their time, in an era where most B2B teams were looking to solve hard but not entirely “core tech” enterprise problems

Fast forward to 2018 – where Blume and our newly christened Arka Venture Labs (set up in partnership with our two valley VC friends, BGV and Emergent) – are seeing high-quality teams solving Tech/Enterprise problems in the areas of:

  • AI for Cybersecurity & fraud detection
  • AI/ML for global large-scale use cases like Customer Service/Call Centers
  • Leading-edge 3D manufacturing
  • EV & battery technology innovation
  • Micro-satellite / Drone technology for crop imagery and related agri-tech
  • And of course, Robotics and IOT more broadly

“Returning” talent especially for deeper-tech domain areas is also a growing factor that will make India’s B2B startups more “tech-defensible” and contribute to more robust IP defensibility/value

3. Insight into China, Silicon Valley, and AI

Book signing with Kai Fu Lee

At the DVN Summit, a personal highlight was attending a talk up-close with Kai Fu-Lee of Sinovation Ventures, who shared a candid, insightful and thought-provoking fireside chat focused on “Silicon Valley, China and the future of AI”

  • In China, entrepreneurship is akin to a gladiator fighting in an arena. Only one winner emerges, it’s a winner-take-all market dynamic. You have to build an execution model that can’t be replicated. No consolation prizes!
  • Culturally, there should be a worry about China’s 9-9-6 work ethic. Entrepreneurs often work 100 hour weeks and the risk of burn out is very real. The “Gladiator” analogy can be taken too far

Insight into product centrism of valley vs China :

  • Winning a market is more important than changing the world via a brand new product or idea”. Because of the desire to win –execution is the most important factor of success
  • Chinese entrepreneurs are thus more open and NOT wedded to product or technology pe
  • Consumer: winners will be led by those who can create value for in-app data (find out why your end customers/users will share, while protecting privacy) and grow users the fastest
  • Enterprise: the key is how can you show value and get data from your end corporate customers e.g. fintech data for fraud detection & prevention; once you get it, how do you massage and analyze/create insights from it

4. Valley Subcultures (and successful M&A integrations)

Blume with Raju Reddy, founder of Sierra Atlantic (acq by Hitachi), and one of Blume’s earliest supporters / advisors. also independent board member on a number of our portfolio companies

Insight from Arka Venture Labs event: where we had a tripartite series of fireside chats with serial entrepreneurs (Raju Reddy – Sierra Atlantic, acquired by Hitachi; Gaurav Kumar – Redlock, acquired by Palo Alto Networks and Piyush Gupta (Exero, acquired by IBM)

  • Few corporates land up successfully “absorbing” the teams they acquire. Culturally, large corporates and startups are poles apart and when founders join post M&A, often, “a lot of glass will be broken!”
  • There are seemingly two valley VC cultures (caveat: this IS a generalization, hence an upfront disclaimer)
  • Where the idea matters most. If the idea doesn’t work, back another team that can execute the same idea better
  • People (teams) matter: especially in early-stage, it’s the founders you’re backing. Ideas will change, and you’re backing a team that will adapt to, pivot if necessary and adjust to changing market winds

5. India tech – recognized, on the world stage

While the promise/potential of India-tech has always been strong, actual results re: the size and frequency of exits have traditionally lagged behind. Statistics and results today show – not anymore. Flipkart’s just short of $20B transaction with Walmart was not only a regional but one of the world’s largest e-commerce M&As ever! (Jet.com was acquired by Walmart for ~ $3B).

  • “We’re losing count of the number of our Indian founders with Tokyo, Beijing, Singapore and Jakarta stamps on their passports!” [quote within Blume team!]
  • “We looked at a handful of India’s emerging deeper-tech AI / related platforms, Grey Orange being one … and noticed a number of these had been backed by Blume!” [overseas hedge fund]

At the recent DVN Summit Awards, it was an honor to see our Tricog win “Top Innovator Award of the year”!

Tricog wins the Most Innovative DVN Company 2018

Kudos to Dr. Charit, Dr. Zainul and team for building out Tricog into a leading health AI platform that uses technology to solve a hard problem – diagnosis of heart disease

  • Serving over 1.3 million patients
  • Saving the lives of over 50,000 patients with heart attacks across 12 countries
  • With GE and other stellar peers as strategic partners

High-quality founders abound, with a stronger ambition to boot

One emerging difference we’re seeing – the degree of ambition. Flipkart’s massive majority acquisition by Walmart could be one of many contributing factors. Today, founders are dreaming, thinking, and executing BIG. Oyo and Ola are paving the way on the consumer front.

  • Grey Orange has today evolved into a truly globally distributed model (with R&D in Boston and Germany; Asia HQ in Singapore and the US; core engineering, assembly, manufacturing & testing in Gurgaon)
  • Unacademy aspires to be not just India’s, but someday, the world’s leading learning platform

“To back these global ambitions, Indian founders today have much a wider funnel of options before them. The universe of financial and strategic options has dramatically expanded.

With these developments, we’ve never been more excited about what India-tech holds in store, as we embark on Blume III ! “

[Chai & Chatter Highlights] How New Age Entrepreneurs And VCs Think About Agriculture

Approaching end of 2018, Blume launched a series of thematic events called ‘Chai & Chatter’, where founders, investors, and the startup ecosystem can come together to discuss and exchange notes on topical sectors, once a month. Our first Chai & Chatter event – ‘India2: VCs, Vernacular & Video’ – was influenced by opportunities of building and innovating for the next 100 mn users of India. Manish Rathi of Railyatri (an online travel concierge), Sachin Bhatia of TrulyMadly (a matchmaking platform), Rajat Garg of MyUpchar (telemedicine for tier 2 & 3 India), and Mandeep Manocha of Cashify (exchange and after sales repair platform for second-hand gadgets) were the panelists. Sajith Pai, Director at Blume, moderated the panel discussion.

On 17th January 2019, the second edition of Chai & Chatter: ‘Opportunities in Agritech’ was hosted, where we wove a panel of venture capital executives and agripreneurs. The panel included Anu Meena (Founder, Agrowave), Arjun Ahluwalia (Co-founder, Jai Kisan), Swati Pandey (Co-founder, Arboreal), Varun Khurana (Co-founder, Crofarm), and Mark Kahn (Partner, Omnivore). Hemendra Mathur (Partner, Bharat Innovation Fund) moderated the entire discussion.

Hemendra Mathur teed off the panel discussion by posing a key question to the panelists, “Why are you doing an agribusiness as opposed to a traditional (consumer-tech) business?” Among other reasons, agricultural family background, drive to create impact, and deep-seated belief in ‘agricultural as the next big thing’ stood out. Arjun from Jai Kisan put forth an interesting point of view – “To me the key disparity was that the farmer is always treated as another consumer and not a business. I also find it puzzling that he (the farmer) buys at retail and sells at wholesale. There is an obvious gap there.”

While the evening covered a host of interesting views on the sector, we’ve curated the following key takeaways to summarize the discussion:

(1) Hiring quality talent for core Agri Businesses face both quality and attrition related challenges.

Swati (CEO, Arboreal) said “while agriculture is getting glamorous, it will continue to have a large offline component. Anyone coming from a typical corporate mindset might find it difficult to stick around. Historically, we have found IRMA to be a good source of hiring.”

Notably, all entrepreneurs agreed on the following:

  • People who come from farming families have a more nuanced understanding of agriculture and often perform far better than those who only have a formal education in agriculture.
  • Workforce that has been long exposed to businesses and environments where subsidy, price controls or some excessive regulation exists, often struggles to adapt to newer and more competitive environments.

(2) In a last mile business like Agriculture, Heavy investment in tech will only make sense after the use case has been established.

With broadly concurring views, panelists agreed that selective deployment of technology can help you build both, frugally and effectively. Drawing from her personal experience, Anu of Agrowave shared, “Until you hit a certain scale, you should resist from investing large sums of money in tech. Continuously, we come across areas where technology can improve cost efficiencies such as reduction of wastage. We then go ahead and add those components to our offering.”

Varun (CEO, Crofarm) also added saying, “Technology helps us build efficiencies. For example, we leverage technology to aggregate demand. Eventually, we plan to extend it to predictive modelling for a leaner supply chain.” Crofarm is a ‘farmer-to-retailer’ commerce platform that manages supply chain for fresh produce (fruits and vegetables).Blume’s take is that the need for technology can be high or low depending on the part of the agri value chain one is operating in.

(3) In midst of Policy changes & regulatory uncertainties, building an agile business is the best bet for an agripreneur.

The Swaminathan report (2006), that continues to be relevant even today, changed the way policy makers viewed agriculture in India. MSP, loan waivers, access to technology, credit and water, were all identified as key drivers to change. Over the last decade, a few of these interventions were actioned by the Centre and the State. However, their impact on streamlining agriculture has remained subpar at best. In our view, technology has disproportionately helped the medium / large landholders whereas small / marginal landholding farmers continue to cope with poverty.

Against this backdrop, the aspiring entrepreneurs in the audience were curious to know how these sinusoidal (policy-related) waves impact growth-stage ventures. Addressing this particular point, Mark Kahn from Omnivore said, “The most impactful interventions come from the State government (as opposed to the Centre). Consider the ‘Rythu Bandhu scheme’ by the Telangana government where both, government as well as the farmer benefit by providing the latter a small grant to cultivate over two seasons. Agriculture is a complex problem, but favourable policies will keep simplifying it. I am hopeful that five years from now, the sector will become more conducive.”

At Blume, we do believe that entrepreneurs, especially in highly regulated sectors (such as agriculture and healthcare), continue to face newer obstacles and barriers to scale. However, the idea is to keep hustling and building.

On that note, we concluded the sequel to chai & chatter. The next Chai & Chatter event will be hosted in February where we’ll do a deep dive on an interesting application of AI. Follow @BlumeVentures for more updates.

Karthik Reddy: Finding Great Founders

In part 4 of our 5-series blog post on Blume founder Karthik Reddy’s conversation with Deepak Jayaraman on the Play to Potential podcast, Karthik shares his thoughts around how a VC fund should identify great entrepreneurs. When it comes to picking these great founders, it’s important that they are always willing to learn and have the ability to build great teams, shares Karthik. The full conversation is here.

How do you evaluate an entrepreneur and specifically I am curious about this, at least in my head there is a tension between two different elements, one is about the entrepreneur having a certain dogged persistence about an idea the other is about the entrepreneur being open and willing to input when new funders come in and it’s a fine line, you don’t want people on either side of the spectrum, so how do you sort of walk that tightrope from the judgement standpoint at the time of investing in a longer way?

So I will answer your first question which is around, what do we look for in the founder, and which actually leads into the next question – capacity to learn listen not be obstinate beyond a point is very very important in my view and we will come to the second question but because you have intertwined the two questions interestingly, the more stubborn they are in taking inputs in such an early stage of the business the more unlikely they are to succeed in my view. Because actually at the early stage you don’t know anything, you don’t know the challenges of organization building what the problems set can expand to, which direction it can go to? And that is what we actually look for in the founder so all of these are interlinked so what I mean by that is essentially we realized that great founders have two sets of qualities around organizations that it is not about them it is about building phenomenally great teams and across the board. So philosophically you have to be willing to share rewards, you have to be willing to share responsibilities, you have to be willing to, therefore, take inputs, you have to respect them, it is not about the paper exercise of building a team. If you are not surrounding yourself with views of people who you respect then why bother? And then extending it one step further, they have to respect that we are partners as opposed to us versus them and again if they don’t, they will obviously disregard our inputs. The two are intertwined and these are the characteristics you are typically looking for, do they appreciate the feedback that you are giving? And so it’s a double-edged sword, that’s why I said if you are being arrogant about your views, a lot of founders become cynical about why the hell should I take the VC’s views? Or anybody for that matter, let’s say 9 out of 10 people in the world, broadly we see it a lot more in India than we should in my view, and which is why the Valley is the Valley I keep saying, culturally the Valley will not like dismiss you, and as the eco-system engages, these guys become harsh, they put up more barriers and stop listening than they should even though they might not have started that way because they are getting so much pushback, from customers, from investors, from some bigger company…

…. It’s the climate that drives behavior right?

In some sense; which is what we work very hard to refine, for example we will tell our founders that go and meet your competitors, go and have like open dialogues, learn from each other see where you might compete in the future. There is no harm, don’t sit and bitch about it without even meeting each other, which happens; that’s the kind of openness we try to build. I take another view, been in it for six years now, I don’t see myself doing anything else in life; if I am doing this for another 20-25 years I better be in an eco-system I like to be in, how much ever it is been corrupted by somebody else. I am saying what the hell I am not going to live with the crappy eco-system and put my life through this; I wanted it to be better and I will fight it so I blog about it, I blog about the behavior because I said if I don’t fix it then I am to blame too.

So that’s one aspect; the other aspect I think is truly whether they are passionate about solving a very specific problem and not one of the other two things. So you say what’s unique in that? I can tell you what’s unique in that, there are lots of founders who think there is a fashionable problem to solve, that’s not the founder we are looking for, for one and the classic unfortunately entrepreneur hat that India was willing to put on people was as long as you know ki “Achcha business karta hai, yaa achcha paisa banata hai, tho achcha entrepreneur hai”, that is not startup venture investing, that is every other type of investing but it’s not venture capital early stage. If you are trying to pick there and saying I want a decent probability that this succeeds, and look at the odds that are stacked against you, we have been talking about for now. It has to be that this person is passionate around solving something in the world even if he is truly like hardcore Madu, Gujju style wants to make money, it is got to be around that. Then then that passion comes through and then it reflects in hiring, it reflects in your ability to build a business, capital, every element of not perfectionism but like great product and brand that you build, without that, it is just Dhandaa, let us get it done. And I think this is a huge difference; the second difference is, it is not just about the problem you are chasing, sometimes people fall in love with the solution they are selling…so they say, this product is a rockstar product, I (VC) am saying customer doesn’t think so, no but I (entrepreneur) don’t care, mine is a rockstar. So if you don’t know how to listen to your customer and adapt and not lose sight of the fact that you are solving the same problem, please focus on the problem, not on the solution.

… but how do you suss this out at the time of evaluating the entrepreneur?

I think you question them, on whether they have thought through what behavior they are influencing, why are they doing this? Where was the origin of the problem in their heart? Why did they think they should chase this idea; sometimes backgrounds, how you grew up cues on this. So Sam Altman gets credit for it, a lot of us think, but he blogs it better. Sam Altman says I always start with the childhood, and so you want to understand the person deeper and their motivations, not simply with the fact that they came up with a cool idea in a college lab, and decided they want to become startup entrepreneurs. That might be good enough, I am not saying no, but at least ring fence this, that’s all I am saying.

Blume Ventures-Backed E2E Networks Makes Its IPO Debut On NSE Emerge

On May 15th, 2018, our portfolio company E2E Networks listed on the National Stock Exchange’s SME platform NSE Emerge. The IPO was cited by many observers and the startup press as a seminal moment in the young Indian startup ecosystem. It established that a hard-fought profitable path for a company is also very rewarding through this Listing mechanism. It opens up a new funding avenue for startups, outside the limitations of growth stage Venture Capital. We are very proud of E2E, which reached this stage with an incredible ROE over its 8 years of existence. While this Emerge exchange has witnessed over a 100 issues over the past few years, this was the first VC-backed profitable company to explore the SMB exchange route.

While the issue was priced attractively (INR 57) for public investors (the issue was oversubscribed 70x, receiving bids for 270.84 million shares against the 38.6 million on offer), the opening bell yesterday saw the price discovery at INR 85 followed by hitting the upper circuit breaker at INR 89.25, where it stands on Day One – a 56.5% Day One rise from its issue price.

E2E, a cloud computing startup has been a classic example of a profitability + growth model and this listing was a brave first step in this new growth phase of the Company’s growth. Karthik Reddy, Managing Partner, Blume Ventures, adds “Tarun, Imran and the E2E team grew the business against all odds, delivering for Indian clients who needed a reliable, cost-effective and scalable cloud computing platform that delivers most of the core value of the larger public cloud companies at a full-service cost & quality structure that no one can match in the country. The public markets seem to have understood and backed this promise more than the private venture markets which came close to backing but never ultimately believed that E2E can compete and win against these odds.”

Blume will hope to showcase this SMB IPO path as a strong one for long-term, tight governance-oriented startups in its portfolio that are happy to build towards profitability and sustainability. With E2E’s success, we envisage some more Blume portfolio companies, as well as many others in the ecosystem, believing in this path. Once the company establishes confidence with a wide base of investors and can multiply its performance and profitability over 2-3 years, these companies will be primed to (automatically) migrate to the main bourse- a path prescribed by the exchanges for strong companies such as E2E Networks.

Blume Ventures Is Hiring For Bangalore!

Almost 8 years ago, Karthik & Sanjay started Blume Ventures, with a view to back transformational ventures, built by passionate founders. Along the way, this startup venture fund of ours has grown, across three funds and some intermediate ones, to a double-digit sized team. En route, we have backed and helped build over 100 startups, across geographies and verticals. As we like to say, we are the startup that helps back, and build other startups.

We are launching our 3rd fund this year, our biggest ever, to back the next wave of revolutionary founders and ventures. We are seeing bigger dreams and bigger ambitions in these new founders, in larger numbers than ever before. They are targeting bigger problems and bigger opportunities, inspired and motivated by the first wave of success stories that are unfolding more rapidly now.

Blume @ Bangalore

Accompanying our new Fund is the further expansion into NCR and a new office in Bangalore. Delhi NCR is now a team and an Office space – building on the presence of Arpit for the last 4 years.

Which brings us to the inevitable launch of Bangalore. With almost 50% of prior fund portfolios and possible the same proportion in Fund III and beyond, the mad rushes in and out of Bangalore every week, even in 2-3 day doses, will not suffice any longer. The Blume team spends on average 20 (woman+man) days in B’lore every month across 6-7 team members.

Blume’s Bangalore office and team will a) support our already sizeable portfolio and b) identify and help grow the newer portfolio. We expect this team to start at a size of 3 and maybe go to 4-5 over the next 2-3 years.

Who are we looking for?

We are open to a broad range of capabilities, ages, and experiences for the Bangalore office, which range from Principal to Analyst roles. We are not fixated on positions and experience as yet. We are more interested in reasons why someone is even contemplating the industry and a Blume Ventures in particular.

An MBA is useful but not essential. Good written and spoken communication skills are essential though!

Clearly, these roles are right for someone who is

–     super-passionate about the startup space, ideally having either worked in a startup, or in an investment or support role in the startup ecosystem, excited to work with founders and be their partners in their incredibly tough and long journeys

–     adept at supporting our founders through the rollercoaster that is the startup journey, and equally capable of organizational building and support in developing a Bangalore office over the long-term

–     excited to represent Blume in Bangalore, being a flag-bearer for the Blume culture and brand, and help shape Blume’s presence and leadership in Bangalore and neighbouring startup ecosystems.

–     well aware that there is an existing team and culture in place that’s constantly learning and evolving on one hand, but has firm unshakeable core principles about the business on the other. This implies that culture fit is super critical, hunger to learn/ unlearn/relearn is a core element of our DNA (even better if you can learn from your peers’ mistakes before yours J), and there is NO Fast Track to anything per se in this space

–     clear that rewards in this business are rear-ended by default. Therefore, Blume believes in aligning our comp structures similarly. We are a small fund that believes fervently in building powerhouse breadth of value for our founders, which means thin salaries and fat hours, not fat salaries and thin hours. If you’re coming for the money, you will struggle to even get the right learning. If you’re coming for the learning, you will eventually get the money. If you don’t believe in latter, you possibly don’t believe in the future success of Blume – best not to venture into the team J

–     comfortable working in a small team, and even more comfortable working with ambiguity across many vectors and variables.

Primers for who we are, if you don’t know us already, are well captured in many interviews from the founding partners in the media. Karthik’s interview on PlaytoPotential is a good starting point on what to expect.

Reach out to us!

Address your queries and send us your profiles at blrteam@blume.vc

We promise to read every mail, though we won’t promise to respond to every mail 🙂

For those of you who are concerned about confidentiality, you know Karthik and Sanjay’s email ids / mobile numbers. Go ping them and tell them if you are keen or know someone who would be a terrific fit.

Please try and get back to us with your interest as early as possible. Applications close by 21st October.

Blume Ventures Has A New Logo

How much does a logo really matter?

Or really, how much does the logo matter for a firm like Blume, or any other VC firm?

Well, there aren’t any studies thus far linking the aesthetics of the brand identity to the quality of its investments. But I don’t think any of us need a peer-reviewed study to convince us that there is no link between a well-crafted brand identity and a superior investing record.

Yet, I personally haven’t come across a single well-known and reputed investment firm with a poorly crafted brand identity; at least internationally. The logical answer to this paradox is that the reputation gets built first, and then the ‘investment’ in brand identity follows.

Blume is at this juncture today.

Blume has evolved, and now our brand identity has to evolve too.
We started in 2010, with a mission to reimagine startup finance for India. And a near decade on, this startup venture fund of ours has grown to become a key player in the startup ecosystem. We are launching our 3rd fund this year, our biggest ever, to back the next wave of transformational ventures and revolutionary founders, dreaming bigger dreams and burning with bigger ambition.

Just as our founders have evolved and grown, Blume too has grown with them, keeping up with their dreams and ambitions. We have expanded across people, offerings and geographies. And correspondingly, the Blume brand too has grown to occupy a far more prominent mindspace than before. Yet, even as Blume’s brand has grown, its brand identity has stayed the same.

Blume’s present, and now old logo

It was time for the brand identity to better reflect what the brand is. More importantly, we wanted a brand identity that would reflect what Blume was evolving into.

Rebooting Blume’s brand identity
To take a fresh look at what Blume’s revised brand identity should be, we turned to Synapse, a branding + communication agency, based in Goa. One of the reasons we picked Synapse and not a traditional identity design firm, was because of Synapse’s roots in information design, though they have diversified to offering all things and services, that help in “storytelling for businesses”.

Our broad brief to them was to create a brand identity that better reflected the Blume brand, and captured how Blume was evolving for the future. We were keen that the new identity convey on one hand a sense of permanence (as an investor brand, you want your customers to feel that you are going to be here for ever) and on the other our strong connection with founders.

Basis the above brief, the Synapse team created a series of explorations. Initially they started with hand-drawn sketches such as the one below…

Blume stands for ‘nurture’. This logo combines the aspect of ‘nurturing’ represented by petals along with a clever use of negative space showing wings that represent flight. Blume supports start-ups helping them take flight.

…to a series of formal explorations around creative interpretation of the above.

However, not all options focused on stylistically rendering the ‘B’ though. The one below on the left was a personal favourite of mine. Karthik however nixed it, saying it was too literal an interpretation. Well!

Gradually one of the interpretations caught our fancy (see below), and that became the basis for the final logo. This was a deconstruction of the letter B into a logo unit.

From this deconstructed B, Synapse launched a series of iterations to progress to a key element of our final logo, the interlink symbol, where the B and E join together to symbolize how we connect with our founders.

And then we landed at

and finally at

Dissecting the logo
So what does the logo stand for, and what does that symbol above the words ‘Blume’ mean?

In the words of Synapse, our agency: “The symbol is a combination of interlinked ‘B’ and ‘E’ as the first and last letter of the word Blume, communicating end-to-end synthesis between founders and investors. The symbol is also representative of two interlinked hands.”

In the process of designing we also ditched the word ‘Ventures’ from the logo unit. We felt there was enough awareness of ‘Blume’ as a startup venture fund for us to drop the ‘Ventures’ word.

‘Blume’ is written in a font called September, designed by typographer Rian Hughes, who probably has no idea that it is being used for a venture capital brand. Per Synapse “ The type unit has been carefully selected keeping Blume’s edgy personality in mind, while seeking inspiration from the curves in the symbol.” Hmmm….

The other ‘edgy’ aspect of the logo was the orange colour in the interlink symbol. It was one of three different colour options presented, and all of us at Blume on this project liked it. Primarily, we wanted the logo to look a tad spiky and different from all the monochrome logos out there.

Later after the logo was finalized, Sanjay found the following and shared with all of us. Validation of a kind!

Hit Refresh!
Over the next few weeks, the new Blume logo will start making its appearance across our visiting cards, stationery and other ‘collateral’. We will also be revamping our website, an effort led by Synapse’s sister agency Screenroot.

We look forward to hearing your thoughts on the new identity and its manifestation across all our collateral.

Blume Portfolio Company Mettl Acquired By Mercer

We are pleased to share that Mettl, a Blume Fund I portfolio company, has entered into an agreement to be acquired by global consulting firm Mercer. Mettl was founded in 2010 by Ketan Kapoor and Tonmoy Shingal and is based out of Gurgaon, India (Delhi NCR).

It will be Mercer’s first acquisition in the talent assessment space. Mettl had built a world-class talent assessment platform, with multilingual capabilities and support and customers across 80 countries. Mercer is fully owned by Marsh and McLennan (NYSE: MMC)

The acquisition marks an important milestone in Blume’s journey as a growing fund house.

  • Mettl was one of Blume’s earliest Fund I investments in 2011
  • After a small Series A from Kalaari in 2012, Mettl didn’t raise again and crossed $10 million in Revenue and showed that India can build world-class product companies with great capital efficiency.
  • Mettl is now the largest cash exit in Blume’s short history and is what will be the beginning of many such stellar outcomes in Fund I and beyond.
  • With over 15x returns on our seed position and over 7x in aggregate capital (seed + Series A), this will likely be amongst our top decile outcomes when the book on Fund I is written.

Blume is incredibly proud of the founders and the team. Blume has always believed in India’s ability to build great product companies that cater to B2B needs and in backing founders and companies who can build for global markets. Mettl is a validation of this belief.

Mettl currently caters to around 2,000 businesses including SAP, Amazon, EY, Accenture and others. In the last two years, Mettl has seen rapid expansion and adoption in international markets such as the US, China, Mexico, Germany, Philippines, Nigeria, South Africa, Indonesia, Japan, and UAE.

This acquisition will help Mettl become a world-leader in talent assessments by leveraging Mercer’s global footprint and leadership position. “We can sustainably scale our presence and reach, helping companies avoid the cost of suboptimal hiring decisions amidst ongoing digital disruption,” said Ketan Kapoor, CEO, Mettl in a press release.

We wish Mettl and Mercer continued success and in building the world’s best platform in the assessments space.

Blume Ventures Marks The First Close Of Fund III

Mumbai, October 4, 2018 – India’s foremost homegrown early-stage venture capital firm, Blume Ventures, has completed the first close of its Third Fund. Reaching half of its $80 Mn target corpus and with commits from existing investors for another $20 Mn, Blume aims to achieve its final close over the next few months.

Fund III is reflective of the renewed confidence of Blume’s current LPs and some new anchor investors (from India, US, Japan and Asia) in the maturing Indian VC market, Blume’s emergence as a strong brand with top founders, and its robust fund performance.

The Blume General Partners continue to believe in backing the two distinct opportunity sets that India offers – domestic consumption and scaling (by consumers and SMBs respectively) and Indian engineering built for global markets.

Blume expects to invest 60-65% of Fund III in domestic-heavy sectors such as healthcare, financial services, travel, commerce and brands, jobs and education, and digital media & entertainment. The other 35-40% of the fund will focus on software tech (Cloud, AI, Analytics, SaaS, Verticals, and Blockchain) and deep tech (Agri, security, robotics, Iot) companies that can innovate and engineer with local talent pools and yet scale globally.

Karthik Reddy, co-founder and Managing Partner, Blume Ventures says “The larger fund, compared with our humble $20 Mn beginnings in Fund I, allows us to lead investments more emphatically for higher ownership, commensurate to the value-adding platforms that we have built and in time for fantastic founders that are emerging from the success stories of the first cycle in Indian startups. In Unacademy, HealthifyMe, Purplle, Railyatri, Turtlemint, Dunzo etc., we are seeing that we can build uniquely for the Indian market and Blume has an eye for such founders and market gaps before larger funds step in.”

“Blume is building an incredible track record and a global ecosystem of partnerships that is helping generate the first breakouts in Global B2B stories. The emergence of Grey Orange, Locus, Servify, Stellapps, Carbon Clean Solutions, Dataweave, Tricog and many more innovation-heavy early winners across Funds I and II gives Blume an upper hand today in driving the best founders to work with them and a repeatable product success story overseas”, adds Sanjay Nath, co-founder and Managing Partner, Blume Ventures.

The new fund will be invested across a more concentrated portfolio. With opening investment cheques of $500K-$1Mn, and the ability to commit larger amounts in future rounds, Blume is now signaling larger ownership and a longer and deeper commitment to winners.

Fund III will also fuel Blume’s further expansion into NCR and a new team build-out in Bangalore. The Bangalore office and team will support our already sizeable portfolio in Bangalore and further help identify and grow a Fund III portfolio.

About Blume

Founded in 2010 by Karthik Reddy and Sanjay Nath, Blume had raised its debut fund of $20 Mn in 2011, which was supplemented with an Opportunity Fund. A $60 Mn Fund II was raised in 2015. Blume has invested in over 100 companies, including robotics firm GreyOrange, online learning platform Unacademy, Mettl, Turtlemint, Cashify, Servify and more. Some of the key exits from Blume’s portfolio include Taxiforsure (acquired by Olacabs), Zipdial (acquired by Twitter), Promptec (acquired by Havells), Runnr (acquired by Zomato), Minjar (acquired by Nutanix) and E2E (partial exit with IPO listing on NSE Emerge).