A group of Amazon and Microsoft executives, along with organizations like the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, have poured in $7 million to the Unitus Seed Fund, a venture capital fund designed to help entrepreneurs in India get new ventures off the ground.
People like Diego Piacentini, SVP of International Consumer Business at Amazon, and Steve Singh, CEO of Concur, participated in the new round. Others include execs at Microsoft like Soma Somasegar and Bharat Shah; Social Venture Partners leaders Todd Vogel and Lance Fors; financial services executive Geeta Iyer; and McKinsey executive Dilip Wagle. A handful of other foundations also contributed.
The fresh cash gives the fund a total of $20 million, which will be used to invest in more early-stage startups based India — USF currently has 13 in its portfolio — and find entrepreneurs from around the country.
“Our investors are looking to make more than a simple financial return on their money,” USF co-founder Poole told GeekWire on Tuesday. “They want to put money to their work improving the world in some way while still earning a competitive return. Our fund connects them to inspiring entrepreneurs who are able to do just that.”
Poole, a former Microsoft vice president, started USF with former RealNetworks Vice President Dave Richards in 2012. Based in Seattle and Bangalore, India, the organization already has backing from venture capitalist Vinod Khosla, former Microsoft executive Mike Murray, former Bain Capital managing director Bob Gay and others. The USF focuses on companies that it calls “Bottom of the Pyramid” startups — meaning those looking to develop consumer-oriented services that help low-income people. Indian startups that have already received funds include AddressHealth, Hippocampus Learning Centres and Milaap Social Ventures.