By Sindhu Kashyaap, Edited by Teja Lele Desai
For Anuradha Ramachandran, Investments Director – India, Flourish Ventures, investing in startups isn’t new. But, as she says, “Most things that have happened in my career have been accidental and that includes venture capital.”
Anuradha, who has an MBA degree in finance and a BS degree in physics from Madurai Kamaraj University, began her career as a principal correspondent on the corporate reporting and equity analysis team for one of India’s leading business dailies, The Financial Express. She also served in various M&A, business development, and corporate strategy roles at UTV Interactive and Cadila Pharmaceuticals.
In the 90s, she was an investment banker at Lazard India, and felt that there was a dichotomy.
At one end, you have the high of talking to large conglomerates and getting deals; on the other, you don’t get to see continuity. Once the deal is done, the banker steps out. You sell a story and you don’t know what happens to it.
During this time, a few of her friends were starting a small fund in IIT Madras and wanted to formalise it. Anuradha was introduced to a professor, and decided to join the fund.
“This was a joint venture between Ventureast and IIT Madras, and it was one of the few early VC firms in India. In those days, I hardly had any idea of investment or what it does… I thought why not try it out,” she recalls.
The fund was looking at building a portfolio of deep tech startups. It was the early days, and some startups had models and some were just great products.
“After two years, VenturEast and IIT had decided to build a seed fund, raise institutional investment, and continue to invest in early-stage investments,” she says.
An interesting journey
Anuradha says the journey has been interesting and fun. “Meeting startups every day helps me understand and realise the journey that founders go through.”
After working at the deep tech fund for some time, Anuradha joined the Omidyar Network, working there between 2012 and 2018, focusing on financial services.
When the Omidyar Network decided to found Flourish and the team asked me to join, there was no looking back.
Flourish works with more than 60 companies around the world that offer a range of financial services, including fintech infrastructure, consumer and small business lending, insurtech, and digitising money, among others.
Anuradha has always been a strong advocate of women entrepreneurs and women CXOs, but feels there are problems many overlook.
When I had joined the workforce I hadn’t thought of it consciously. I thought of it when we were looking at a woman entrepreneur starting a rural BPO. Among the problems being discussed was the fact that BPOs operate at night…how do women in rural areas come to the office? It hit me then, the gap.
She adds that representation of women is lower when you deeply look at the pyramid, and there is no single reason for this.
“Be confident about the story you have to say. Articulate your role, your story really well. I would advise women to challenge things in a room. Call attention to yourself; if people are not paying attention to you, call it out. An entrepreneur has to call out!” Anuradha says.