Venture capitalist Vinod Khosla, former Microsoft executive Mike Murray, former Bain Capital managing director Bob Gay and others have joined with several leading investors in India to bankroll the Unitus Seed Fund, an $8 million venture capital fund that’s designed to help entrepreneurs in India get new ventures off the ground.
The Unitus Seed Fund focuses on what they dub as “Bottom of the Pyramid” startups — meaning those companies looking to develop consumer-oriented services that help low-income people. Unitus says there are more than 800 million low-income people living in India, and that the investments that come out of the new organization will have a deep social impact.
“The under-served populations of India represent not just a development need, but in fact form a series of large markets with significant and often untapped potential,” said Khosla in a statement. He added that the Unitus Seed Fund will help investors and entrepreneurs create new wealth by “providing value to the masses.”
This marks the second time in the past few weeks that Khosla has tossed his support behind a Seattle organization, following his investment in non-profit educational micro-loan organization Vittana.
Based in Seattle and Bangalore, India, the year-old fund is expected to make as many as 40 new investments in the next four years. Indian startups that have already received funds include Bodhicrew Services, Hippocampus Learning Centres and Milaap Social Ventures. The organization — an offshoot of the 12-year-old non-profit Unitus Labs — was co-founded by former RealNetworks Vice President Dave Richards and former Microsoft Vice President Will Poole.