Exclusive: Vani Kola, MD, Kalaari Capital talks about Her Big Bets and Consolidation in the E-commerce Sector

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Vani Kola, MD, Kalaari Capital got the investment for her start-ups like any typical entrepreneur by the trial and error method. Newly interested in business, she went step-by-step and decoded how to get funding by first making a business plan, then asking for help. “If you have the passion and the perseverance and problem-solving ability, these three Ps can get you anywhere,’’ she told Business Insider in a candid chat in Kalaari Capital's modern office and Incubator in Bengaluru.

Genuinely been helped by a lot of people, when Kola successfully sold her company, she didn’t want to stop working. Kola left India in 1985 and felt that the country has completely transformed by the time she left so she decided to see if her home still gave her inspiration. It did.

Exclusive: Padmaja Ruparel, Indian Angel Network is Breaking Barriers, just like the Start-ups She Supports

Commenting on the volatile e-commerce sector and the recent markdowns and firings, Kola thinks that while the companies might get consolidated, e-commerce is here to stay, “What will win the market is great customer service, the brand name is unimportant. Some companies will fail but the sector will keep growing,” Kola comments on the highly volatile e-commerce sector.

Homecoming and How

She came back home to India for a month in 2006 to try and reconnect back to her roots and also figure out her next move. After traveling across the country, she decided that she wanted to help the entrepreneurs that never got the kind of exposure that she had been lucky to receive.

Kola started Indo-US Ventures, which was started with the intent of bridging the two countries by enabling more transactions. She raised a maiden fund of $210 million in 2006 with Vinod Dham, who is known for developing Intel’s Pentium chip. Post parting with Dham, she raised another $440 million, making her the second-largest firm in India by assets which is now called Kalaari Capital- the name inspired by Kerala’s highly trained martial arts.

One of the first movers in E-commerce space, the Venture fund has invested in companies such as Via, Myntra, Holachef, Zivame, and even Snapdeal.

Exclusive: AdvantEdge Partner, Kunal Khattar on why Failure should be Celebrated in an Entrepreneur’s Risky Life

Commenting on the volatile e-commerce sector and the recent markdowns and firings, Kola thinks that while the companies might get consolidated, e-commerce is here to stay, “What will win the market is great customer service, the brand name is unimportant. Some companies will fail but the sector will keep growing,” Kola comments on the highly volatile e-commerce sector.

First Mover's Outsider Perspective

Crediting her outsider’s perspective for betting on start-ups that have blown up, Kola says that her investments are based on calculated futuristic trends that will be mainstream ten years from now. Armed with more than $65 million, she has invested in 60 plus start-ups and growing.

Commenting on the volatile e-commerce sector and the recent markdowns and firings, Kola thinks that while the companies might get consolidated, e-commerce is here to stay - “What will win the market is great customer service, the brand name is unimportant. Some companies will fail but the sector will keep growing,” Kola comments on the highly volatile e-commerce sector.

Exclusive: Know Vani Kola, one of India's best known investors, like never before

Commenting on the volatile e-commerce sector and the recent markdowns and firings, Kola thinks that while the companies might get consolidated, e-commerce is here to stay, “What will win the market is great customer service, the brand name is unimportant. Some companies will fail but the sector will keep growing,” Kola comments on the highly volatile e-commerce sector.
According to reports, Kalaari has already made $100 million from Snapdeal through secondary sales and it is bound to make more.

Explaining how Consumer products and solutions create a lot of support structure that encourage more B2B companies, Kalaari remains positive about this sector while also showing interest in Digital Payments and the financial and educational inclusion that technology can bring.

“Investors are like parents that have to let the entrepreneurs be, just like my parents did. You have to let the companies discover,” says Kola, who is the most successful woman Venture Capitalist this country has seen.
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Exclusive: Padmaja Ruparel, Indian Angel Network is Breaking Barriers, just like the Start-ups She Supports

Commenting on the volatile e-commerce sector and the recent markdowns and firings, Kola thinks that while the companies might get consolidated, e-commerce is here to stay, “What will win the market is great customer service, the brand name is unimportant. Some companies will fail but the sector will keep growing,” Kola comments on the highly volatile e-commerce sector.

Exclusive: AdvantEdge Partner, Kunal Khattar on why Failure should be Celebrated in an Entrepreneur’s Risky Life

Commenting on the volatile e-commerce sector and the recent markdowns and firings, Kola thinks that while the companies might get consolidated, e-commerce is here to stay, “What will win the market is great customer service, the brand name is unimportant. Some companies will fail but the sector will keep growing,” Kola comments on the highly volatile e-commerce sector.

Exclusive: Know Vani Kola, one of India's best known investors, like never before

Commenting on the volatile e-commerce sector and the recent markdowns and firings, Kola thinks that while the companies might get consolidated, e-commerce is here to stay, “What will win the market is great customer service, the brand name is unimportant. Some companies will fail but the sector will keep growing,” Kola comments on the highly volatile e-commerce sector.
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