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Oct 15, 2022
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India Story : Youthful Population, Rising Middle Class, Growing Digital Adoption

-Swati Murarka, VP, Athera Ventures

Team 100X interviewed some of the top investors across the globe about their venture investing journeys, startups and India. Here, Swati Murarka from Athera Ventures shares her responses.

Q1. What is your motivation to be in the venture investing business

Like entrepreneurs, there is never a dull day in a VCs life! For me, the decision to move to a VC was both from a learning aspect as well as the excitement of participating in different business journeys. 

Q2. Describe your workday and leisure day, how does it look like

Difficult to characterize a day, easier to talk about a typical week.

Mondays tend to be reserved for internal meetings to discuss pipelines, portfolio updates, administrative issues, trends that we foresee, etc. The remaining four days would be dedicated to meeting new founders, diligence promising deals, board meetings, travel, portfolio management, attending events, reading, researching, and reporting. This would periodically include LP management activities, more so if you are in the fund-raising mode. Still find the time for painting, leisure travel and exploring new food outlets.

Q3. What is your view on the future of India as a market

We are high on India and our rebranding to Athera (meaning 'path' in Sanskrit) from Inventus is a signal to the Indian founders, to that effect.

Favourable demographics, a rapidly rising middle class, youthful population and growing digital adoption are some of the encouraging trends towards building a case for the India story and this has accelerated following COVID. 

Q4. Help describe your investment thesis and ideas you would like to back

Athera invests in early-stage companies that leverage technology to resolve significant friction points for enterprises/society at large. We are sector agnostic and like to back persistent founders building businesses with a sustainable competitive advantage. I'm particularly excited about companies which are catering to the 'digitisation of Bharat', building world-class software for the world, and solving for access and experience for consumers.

Q5. What are your 5 key learnings from your experience as a venture investor

(i) Bring in time diversity to portfolio construction

(ii) Identify models that follow a positive macro trend

(iii) Respect founder's time, always

(iv) Errors of commission are must costlier than errors of omission

(v) Capital efficiency is underrated

Q6. Mention top 5 consumer/industry/technology trends in India and globally

(i) Services getting 'productised' 

(ii) Decentralisation of finance

(iii) Full-stack approach to digital healthcare

(iv) 'Variabilization' of costs coupled with availability of high-quality engineering talent resulting in the rise of deep-tech

(v) Digitisation leading to better discovery and distribution

Q7. How do you support your portfolio companies

By trying to be true companions, while dispassionately assisting our Founders navigate their entrepreneurial journeys (by staying out of the way, at times!).

Q8. Books or Blogs you would recommend entrepreneurs

Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl

It talks about a refined outlook to hope, reminding us that we always retain the ability to choose our attitude while highlighting the power of purpose.

I have religiously attended 100X.VC Pitch day demo all your 7 batches. The curation is top-notch!

About Swati

Swati Murarka is a VP at Athera Venture Partners (formerly Inventus India) focusing on Early-stage, tech-oriented start-ups. Inventus has been around for more than a decade and does pre-Series A /Series A investments. Some of the familiar names from the Inventus India family are PolicyBazaar, RedBus, HealthifyMe, LBB, Pixxel, to name a few. Post her MBA, Swati has worked with Barclays (HK), RBS (London and Mumbai) and RBL Bank (Bangalore) as a Financial Markets professional. She has also been part of the core team at an Ed-Tech start-up bringing it to an EBITDA positive stage. At Inventus, she looks at tech-first businesses and is especially excited about financial services, web3, consumer, e-commerce, and healthcare start-ups. A lifelong learner, Swati is passionate about working alongside founders who are changing the way the world works.

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