Se­quoia Ex-CMO Raja Gana­p­a­thy Sets up Fund for Early-stage Firms

Spring Mar­ket­ing Cap­i­tal will work with founders to help the mar­ket­ing & brand­ing strat­egy of star­tups

The Economic Times - - Disruption: Startups & Tech - [email protected] times­

Ben­galuru: Raja Gana­p­a­thy, till re­cently the chief mar­ket­ing of­fi­cer at Se­quoia Cap­i­tal In­dia, has co­founded Spring Mar­ket­ing Cap­i­tal, to in­vest in early-stage tech­nol­ogy com­pa­nies and work di­rectly with the founders to help shape the startup’s mar­ket­ing and brand­ing strat­egy.

Gana­p­a­thy joined hands with sea­soned ad­ver­tise­ment pro­fes­sion­als Vi­neet Gupta, ex-group chief ex­ec­u­tive of DDB Mu­dra and Arun Iyer, ex-chair­man of Lowe Lin­tas, to start the ven­ture. Be­sides man­ag­ing the fund, the com­pany will also en­gage in con­sul­tancy to help es­tab­lished com­pa­nies in their brand­ing ef­forts.

It has al­ready taken up seven con­sul­tancy as­sign­ments with the likes of Byju’s and Healthkart, among few oth­ers. EThas learnt that the fund has set a tar­get of $30 mil­lion and has al­ready re­ceived fund­ing com­mit­ments from mul­ti­ple startup founders in In­dia and a few ven­ture cap­i­tal­ists and is on track to raise around $20 mil­lion by June of this year.

“We will work closely with the fo- un­der to un­der­stand not just the role of the prod­uct or ser­vice in the con­sumer’s life but also the founder’s vi­sion for the com­pany and ac­cord­ingly shape the mar­ket­ing and brand­ing strat­egy,” said Gana­p­a­thy in an ex­clu­sive in­ter­ac­tion with ET.

“The en­tire spec­trum from craft­ing the value propo­si­tion to go-to-mar­ket ap­proach to on­line/off­line com­mu­ni­ca­tion is our re­spon­si­bil­ity, ex­e­cu­tion can be out­sourced but will still be su­per­vised by us,” he said.

In­dian star­tups suf­fer from ma­jor chal­lenges of brand­ing them­selves right, ac­cord­ing to in­dus­try in­sid­ers. A top-level ex­ec­u­tive with a VC firm told ET that more than 40% of the amounts raised by star­tups usu­ally get spent on mar­ket­ing. This cre­ates a space where com­pa­nies like Spring Mar­ket­ing Cap­i­tal can fit in and add value to the en­tire sec­tor, he added.

“By in­vest­ing in the com­pany, we are adding our skin in the game. This en- sures align­ment of goals be­tween Spring and the founder,” he said.

While Spring Mar­ket­ing Cap­i­tal in­tends to en­ter the com­pany in a se­ries A or a pre-se­ries A stage, Gana­p­a­thy said that they would not want to lead a round and rather piggy back on a round led by a VC. “The mar­ket­ing and cre­ative con­sult­ing solution for the first year would be bun­dled in the in­vest­ments we make; we would look for an exit around two to three years af­ter our in­vest­ment at a sub­se­quent liq­uid­ity event,” he said.

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