This was my second meeting with Mahesh Murthy. First was in February 2004, in Mumbai, when I was covering a week-long tour of a group of TiE Silicon Valley venture capitalists for Business Today magazine. Murthy, as a representative of TiE Mumbai, was organising the Mumbai leg of the VC tour. Murthy was running Passion Fund then.
I caught up with him again a few weeks ago in Delhi. This time, he has two fulltime jobs – one as the CEO of his own startup, search engine marketing company Pinstorm, and the other as the partner and the chief driver of a new angel fund called Seed Fund.
Murthy is not a typical CEO or a VC. Dressed in blue jeans and a black T-shirt, he is as casual as he can get. It didn’t matter that he had a client meeting just after the session with me (and also an Associated Press correspondent), but Murthy likes to set his own rules. Some of you may know this already. Murthy’s partners in Seed Fund are Praveen Gandhi and Bharti Jacob, both formerly of Infinity Venture Capital (a firm that had invested in Indiabulls and Indiagames but now in the process of being wound up).
Seed Fund has already finalised two investments. He said that an announcement was expected in a month’s time as the fund formation formalities were yet to be concluded. Seed Fund has a corpus of $10 million and has backers like BV Jagadeesh (co-founder of Exodus Communications), Kanwal Rekhi (one of the founders of TiE) and KB Chandrashekhar (Exodus), besides many others. The fund’s focus is to give very early stage, seed capital or angel funding, hence they raised a very small fund of $10 million (unlike hundreds of millions of dollars being raised by other VCs). We hardly have funds operating at this stage, so that’s a welcome thing for all entrepreneurs sitting with bright ideas but no dough to bankroll it.
A Few Things I Didn’t Know About Murthy
There are a few things I didn’t know about Murthy. He was an engineering dropout (did I hear it right?) from Hyderabad. He started his career as a Eureka Forbes salesman (can you beat it?). He did that for a year and half and used to knock at 25 doors a day. -