Early stage consumer-focused venture capital firm Fireside Ventures has closed its first fund with a corpus of Rs 340 crore. The venture capital firm, which is backed by Premji Invest, ITC, RP-Sanjiv Goenka Group, Emami, among others, has now three key industry experts as advisory board members. Amazon India Head Amit Agarwal, Marico founder Harsh Mariwala, and Bain & Company India Pvt.Ltd. Chairman, Sri Rajan have joined the firm. Addressing the media, Kanwaljit Singh, Managing Partner, Fireside Ventures said that their vision is to help build 25 iconic brands in the next 15 years. Speaking on the sidelines of an event, Singh shared the firm’s vision, investment plans, among other things. Excerpts from the interview:
When you decide to invest, what are the three reasons to choose a brand?
Space, specialty, and ideas that keep changing with the growing market become extremely important when we decide to invest in a brand. For instance, in terms of space, we try to understand if the product is exciting from a consumer perspective, as millennials form the largest force in the market. If it’s truly interesting and if we think it will see a rapid growth than other brands, we pick a brand. Also, we look for difference in terms of the idea, product, packaging, and the go-to-market philosophy. It is also helpful when a brand understands the market needs and that becomes the secret sauce.
Presently, 4 out of the 10 brands you have invested in, are F&B products. What makes the category a preferred choice for investment?
The F&B industry is the most exciting industry and it is a very interesting category in terms of its variety, choices, fresh produces and healthier choices. Also, opportunities are phenomenally high and innovation is the growth driver in this industry. And the biggest trend in this industry will be the Indian brands taking on international markets and going global. For example, tea brand Vadham is a good example. With exports to 83 countries, they are going strong.
What is your advice to budding entrepreneurs looking for investments?
Firstly, an overall vision becomes very important. If there is an exciting product, there is no need to rush and chase money and make it a popular product overnight. It takes time to build sustainability and focus on building the longevity of the product. Be careful with the money. It can come from anywhere, so make sure you choose the right source and the right amount. Just because there is money, don’t take more than you need and be in over debt. Lastly, there will always be challenges when you want to achieve something. Tackle these challenges.
How important has investments in tech-enabled products/brands been to you?
Name any product or a brand, at the heart of consumption, is the way a product or a brand is consumed. And technology changes the way a brand is consumed. Technology plays a critical role in any business model and to connect with the customers. AI and machine learning have played a key role in understanding the needs of customers and we have used data accordingly.
You have spoken about taking Indian brands global. Will you bring international brands to India?
For now, the plan is to focus on taking Indian brands to global market. Having said that, nobody knows what the future holds and what our investments maybe like. However, since we are early-stage investors, we work closely with the brands from their initial stages and global opportunities for these brands look exciting. We hope to take them forward.
You have announced to invest in 25 brands in the next 15 years. Will you continue to invest in FMCG sector?
Our primary choice has always been FMCG and being early-stage investors, our focus will always be on consumer durable brands.