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Meet 5 Women Leading VC Investments in Indian Startups

In India’s constantly evolving corporate market, women have been playing a very dynamic role in activities that were once considered the preserve of men. Over the last few years, Indian women have proved that entrepreneurship is not a male-bastion anymore. More importantly, quite a few women in India are actively promoting entrepreneurship in their role as investors. The following are the women leading India’s venture capital investment in startups, encouraging and supporting the growth of a new generation of entrepreneurs.  

Vani Kola

Vani Kola, Kalaari Capital

There is a reason why Vani Kola is referred to as The Mother of Venture Capitalism in India. As Managing Director at Kalaari Capital, over the years, she has built a reputation for picking the best young minds and mentoring them to build successful enterprises, some prime examples being Myntra, Urban Ladder, Zivame, Power2SME, YourStory, and Bluestone, among others.

Named among the Fortune Most Powerful Women in Business (2018 and 2019), she was an entrepreneur in Silicon Valley for 22 years. Now based in Bengaluru, she works with first-time entrepreneurs to build strong global companies. She focuses on technology companies, leveraging India’s domestic growth to create high growth enterprises.

Varsha Tagare

Varsha Tagare, Qualcomm Ventures India

Varsha Tagare is a Director at Mumbai-based Qualcomm Ventures India, which focuses on technology, media, communication, mobile, and other related sectors. At Qualcomm, she currently manages investments in Capillary Technologies, Housejoy, MapMyIndia, MindTickle, Portea, PropTiger, and YourStory among others.

Armed with MS in Electrical Engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and over two decades of experience in operations and venture capital in Silicon Valley and India, Varsha oversees Qualcomm Ventures India fund, a $150 million allotment dedicated to India and cross border investments. She is based in both Bay Area and Bangalore.

(You can listen to Varsha speaking at the firs-ever annual MAKERS India conference in Bengaluru on March 13-14. Book your passes now!)

Padmaja Ruparel

Padmaja Ruparel, IAN Fund

Padmaja Ruparel is president of Indian Angel Network (IAN) Fund, India’s largest angel network, which she co-founded with her mentor Saurabh Srivastava in 2006. Padmaja’s experience comprises stints in corporate entities, M&As, and startups/early-stage companies. She spent 16 years with Xansa India.

After a stint at NASSCOM, she had played a key role in building the Indian Venture Capital Association, India's oldest and largest association of VC and PE firms. Padmaja is also part of National Expert Advisory Committee on Innovation, Incubation and Technology Entrepreneurship, and Committee of Telecom Centre of Excellence among others.

Shanti Mohan

Shanti Mohan, LetsVenture

In 2013, Shanti Mohan founded LetsVenture, an online platform that connects Indian startups with angel investors. The Bengaluru-based platform, which counts Testbook, DailyNinja, Wishberry, MyUpchar, and Ketto as part of its portfolio, has 3,700 members.

Since its inception in 2013, LetsVenture has facilitated over $100 million in investments. LetsVenture's 195 startup-strong portfolio is now valued at $1.07 billion (as of November, 2019), having raised over $150 million in funding.

An advocate for easing red-tape processes for startups in India, Shanti was instrumental in LetsVenture launching an Angel Fund– a vehicle through which all its investments are routed.

Ankita Vashishta

Ankita Vashishta, Saha Fund

Ankita is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of SAHA Fund, India’s (and Asia’s) first venture capital fund that promotes women entrepreneurship. A first-of-its-kind venture capital fund that focuses on women-centric businesses run by women, SAHA Fund has overseen investments in India, Asia, UK and the US.

An electronics and communications engineer, Ankita is a graduate from the Cranfield School of Management in the UK and has worked in organisations like Aureos capital Abraaj group, Tholons Capital and Tholons Consulting. She had worked in the investment space in India, UK, US, Singapore and the Philippines, for more than eight years before launching SAHA Fund.