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Ratan Tata to Launch Venture Capital Fund; Axilor Ventures Plans to Invest in 15 Startups This Year & More

Netflix on Wednesday confirmed the appointment of two Indian executives– Gaurav Pradhan, director of business development for Asia and Swati Shetty, who will be responsible for original content production and acquisition.

Ratan Tata to Set up Venture Capital Fund with a Corpus of Around $100-150M

Tata Sons Ltd’s chairman emeritus Ratan Tata, in partnership with the University of California, is setting up a venture capital fund with a corpus of around $100-150 million and has already started scouting for startups to invest in, three people aware with the development told DealStreetAsia.

In February, RNT Associates, the privately held investment firm of Ratan Tata, and the chief investment officer’s office of the University of California, announced a partnership to jointly fund startups and early-stage enterprises in India over the next 10 years.

“They registered a fund with the markets regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India in June as a category II alternative investment fund, under the name UC-RNT Fund. The vehicle, apart from contributions from RNT Associates and University of California, will also look to raise third-party capital. They are looking at a corpus of $100-150 million for the fund,” said one of the three people cited above.

Tata has invested in around 30 startups in the last two years, including Snapdeal (Jasper Infotech Pvt. Ltd), Urban Ladder (Home Décor Solutions Pvt. Ltd), Ola (ANI Technologies Pvt. Ltd), Zivame (Actoserba Active Wholesale Pvt. Ltd) and many others across sectors such as healthcare, financial inclusion and e-commerce.

The Tata-University of California partnership has already started scouting for potential investments and they are looking at investments in the ticket size of around $10-15 million. However, initially they are also looking at writing smaller cheques of around $5 million.

The fund, which already has a core team in place, is also in the market to hire people.

Axilor Ventures Plans to Invest in 15 Startups in the Current Financial Year

Bangalore-based Axilor Ventures plans to invest in 12-15 startups in the current financial year. Axilor offers three platforms—early stage venture capital funding, scale up and accelerator programme. The firm has also opened applications for its the accelerator programme for its winter batch, starting next month. It plans to induct up to 15 startups in its upcoming batch, up from nine in its previous one.

“We will continue to invest in technology start-ups that power e-commerce, enterprise, and healthcare. However, we will also look at investing in capital efficient models in new sectors with exciting possibilities,” said Kris Gopalakrishnan, chairman of Axilor.

Fashion eCommerce Sites - Freecultr, Zovi and Fashionara on Verge of Closure

Sequoia Capital-funded ecommerce company Freecultr, which was in talks with Arvind Group for a possible sell-off, has shut down its website, two people familiar with the development told ET. Its website does not even appear in a Google search.

Another fashion ecommerce site, Zovi, backed by SAIF Partners and Tiger Global, has stopped selling directly via its website and buyers are directed to its products sold on Flipkart and Amazon.

There are no products listed on the site and customers are greeted by a message that reads: "Sorry for interruption. We are shifting our warehouses. We will be back soon. You can still continue to keep directing our products at Amazon and Flipkart."

Fashionara, an online retailing venture focussed on fashion and lifestyle, folded up few months ago after struggling amid dwindling business and cash crunch. It was backed by Lightspeed Venture Partners and Helion Venture Partners. Its founder Arun Sirdeshmukh has joined Amazon as the head of its fashion portfolio.

Netflix Appoints Two Indian Executives - Gaurav Pradhan and Swati Shetty

Netflix on Wednesday confirmed the appointment of two Indian executives– Gaurav Pradhan, director of business development for Asia and Swati Shetty, who will be responsible for original content production and acquisition. Pradhan will be overseeing Netflix’s business development efforts in India, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.

Pradhan joins Netflix from Google’s video streaming service Youtube, where he spent over five years as head for product partnerships for YouTube in India and South-East Asia. Prior to this, he worked at search giant Yahoo in India. Shetty is the founder director of Samosa Stories Entertainment Pvt Ltd and has previously worked as president of motion pictures for Balaji Telefilms, promoted by Ekta Kapoor, for over a year. She was the executive director of Walt Disney International Productions India for two years and director of India for Disney ABC International TV for about two years, reported DealStreetAsia.

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