26 – 100 in alphabetical order: Biplab Adhya and Venu Pemmaraju, Wipro Ventures

Wipro Ventures, the $100m strategic investment unit of India-based, New York-listed technology firm Wipro focuses on investing in early to mid-stage startups.

Under chief strategy officer Rishad Premji, Wipro Ventures’ co-heads Biplab Adhya and Venu Pemmaraju leverage the parent company’s “global reach and market knowledge to accelerate the growth of our portfolio companies”.

Since its launch in 2015, Wipro Ventures has invested more than $65m in about 20 startups globally, of which 15 are US-based and the rest in India and Israel.

The recent deals Wipro Ventures participated in included follow-ons:

  • The unit invested for the second time in India-based internet-of-things products platform developer Altizon Systems in July 2018, in a $1m funding round in July 2018, after having injected $4m in early 2016.
  • A $17m series C round for Israel-based cybersecurity technology provider Intsights, which had previously received funds from the unit in a $15m series B round in February 2017 and a $7.5 series A round in September 2016.
  • A $10m round for US-based identity verification software provider Emailage in August 2018, with the unit supplying an undisclosed amount in April 2016.
  • A $14.2m round for US-based conversational interface technology developer Avaamo in May 2018, with the unit supplying $2m in March and $1m at an undisclosed time.
  • A $13.5m series B round for US-based data management software developer Imanis Data in March 2018, which had received $2.1m in December 2017 and $12m series A in 2015.
  • A $36m series D round for US-based cybersecurity technology developer Vectra in February 2018, which had received an undisclosed amount from the unit in 2016.

Wipro Ventures’ portfolio companies cover the upcoming industry 4.0 – automation and data exchange in manufacturing technologies – areas Wipro is especially keen on, including internet of things, chatbots, cybersecurity, big data, cloud computing and artificial intelligence.

For example, Altizon is located in Pune, India and was launched in 2013 to provide internet-of-things, cloud, big data and machine learning technologies. India’s entrepreneurial ecosystem has grown considerably, combining its growth in the economic and digital spheres with the help of government initiatives.

In recent years, Wipro has been gradually altering its previous emphasis on information technology architecture and maintenance to end-to-end support in digital applications. The firm also said in a statement that it would hire more from campuses in order to boost its digital proficiency.

Pemmaraju told Consultancy India in February: “As of date, we have committed more than $65m in capital,” while Adhya added: “Since 2015, we have had more than 100 wins in conjunction with the startups we have invested in.”

Pemmaraju continued: “We measure both the financial health of the companies and the strategic value to Wipro and the startups. Our baseline investment strategy is still the same – invest into early to mid-stage enterprise software companies that have exhibited initial product-market fit, deployed their solution at a handful of enterprise customers and put mechanisms in place to engage with a global technology services provider.”

Pemmaraju previously spent nearly 15 years as an investment director at Intel Capital, where nearly half of his 18 public deals have successfully exited, including CloudMade, a US-based platform for location-enabled apps and services, which was 50% acquired by France-based car parts maker Valeo, and CrowdStar, a social and mobile gaming company acquired by Glu Mobile.

Adhya was previously the global head of the Oracle practice at Wipro, where he was the responsible for strategy, sales and operations for the IT Services offerings around Oracle applications from early 2012.