The VC firm has backed some of India’s most prominent tech companies — including e-commerce firms Flipkart and Myntra, property startup CommonFloor and Proptiger, and now Ola-owned TaxiForSure — and it is seeking “very early stage companies” and “growth equity opportunities” with this new fund.
Accel said it is generally looking at consumer, enterprise, mobile and healthcare verticals. It didn’t give an estimate for typical deal size, but said it will “partner closely with India-based entrepreneurs to help build their businesses from the earliest days.”
The firm is the latest in a series of prominent investors to dedicate increased resources to India.
Tiger Global has been particularly active in India lately, apportioning a chunk of its newest $2.5 billion float to deals in the South Asian country. Sequoia also continues to invest with regularity at Series A and onwards in India, while SoftBank has entered the scene in a major way. The Japanese telecom firm last year announced that it would put $10 billion in Indian startups, and it has already completed a range of deals including big rounds for Ola, Housing.com, and Snapdeal — not to mention GrabTaxi in Southeast Asia.
Mobile is the big promise that is luring investor cash. While handset shipments to India declined this past quarter for the first time ever — due to a pre-Christmas surplus — the projected growth of smartphones is giving founders and investors optimism that the market for internet and tech services will grow significantly. That, when coupled with a population of over 1.2 billion — many of whom are accessing the web for the first time — spells opportunity.
IDC reported that smartphone shipments reached 23 million units in Q4 2014, up more than fourfold on the same period two years previous. That growth is predicted to continue, in spite of the recent dip, and India is expected to overtake the U.S. to become the world’s second largest smartphone market with 200 million device owners by the end of next year. Even that figure would represent modest adoption in the country, and it is likely to growth even further.