On the ground in India

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December 18, 2023

Every year, the VEF team brings our Board of Directors on a trip to one of our core markets. These trips give our Board the opportunity to meet our portfolio companies in person and gain a deeper understanding of the market conditions for fintech. In November we travelled to India, where the fintech ecosystem is supported by strong public markets and regulators. Thanks to its large, young population, rapidly expanding digital services, and strong economic potential, India is a market where VEF sees a large opportunity for fintech.

During the trip we spent time with the management teams of our portfolio companies, connected with the local investor ecosystem, updated our board on local public market activity and government initiatives, and met new pipeline company opportunities. India is the second largest market in our portfolio after Brazil, and we have been active in the country for the past five years. The key takeaway from the trip was that the Indian fintech market continues to go from to strength to strength.

Members of the VEF team & Board with Juspay founders Vimal Kumar, Sheetal Lalwani & the broader Juspay team.

Seeing the potential first hand

The trip was organized by our CIO Alexis Koumoudos and India lead, Shashi Shekhar Mahajan, and took place in November in the city of Bangalore, the tech capital of India.  We spent time with management teams of each of our Indian portfolio companies – Juspay, BlackBuck and Rupeek.

‘The cornerstone of these trips is spending quality time with the founders and management teams of our portfolio companies. Being on the board of Juspay, I have experienced their development first hand, but there is no replacement for spending time in the office with the broader team and getting colleagues at VEF engaging in person too,’ says Alexis Koumoudos.

The investment case for India lies in the large, and youthful, population who are digital product users in their daily lives. In addition to this, India’s regulators are uniquely supportive of innovation and digitization.

‘Digital adoption rates are high in India and the fact that there is public infrastructure for digital payments creates ideal conditions for new players to emerge. Combined with a strong local VC ecosystem, there is a great foundation to participate on as an investor. We like to showcase this potential to our Board as part of these trips’, says Shashi Shekhar Mahajan.

With Rajesh Tabaji, CEO of VEF portfolio company BlackBuck, & team. 

Strong public markets supporting the ecosystem

India is experiencing a boom relative to other emerging markets, with robust capital markets fueling strong IPO activity. This is underpinned by healthy macro tailwinds and very deep pools of domestic and India dedicated capital. These factors help drive a vibrant tech ecosystem. To continue to connect with our partners, VEF hosted an event with over forty participants from local start-ups, investment banks, and local VCs.

‘Integrating and becoming trusted partners to the local ecosystem is an important part of what we do at VEF. We pair well with strong local investors who are on the ground, contributing our unique global perspectives on fintech. The depth of local capital goes beyond just the private markets. We are now seeing strong public market activity translating into a foundation for growth of later-stage companies. Our own portfolio company BlackBuck has announced preparations for an IPO in the future’, says Alexis Koumoudos.

Overall, the trip reinforced VEF’s view on why India is one of the most promising emerging markets for fintech globally, and our Board came away with a deeper appreciation of the opportunity we are playing in to.

The VEF team & Board with Karan Sharma, MD at Avendus Capital.

Key takeaways – why India, and why now?

  • The mood on the ground was overwhelmingly positive with a stark rebound from our February trip, led by political stability, underlying economic growth and buoyant capital markets driven by very significant domestic and dedicated capital.
  • Relative to other emerging markets, India is experiencing a boom in IPO activity this year. This strong public market activity is creating a foundation for the growth of later-stage private companies.
  • The trip reinforced our view that India is a top two geography for VEF’s incremental investment dollar. In particular because of its scale, pace of development and the tailwinds for fintech, thanks in part to the innovative regulator.