By Sundaram Mishra
WALTHAM, MA–Last year in April, INDIA New England News talked to Krishna Gupta, who along with Anantshree Chaturvedi, and Cankut Durgun, co-founded the venture capitalist firm Romulus Capital.
Gupta and Durgun were still students at MIT at the time! Since the last interview, Romulus Capital has closed and invested 25 percent of its $50 million fund that it was in the process of raising last year, and they have opened an office in Kendall Square. Some of their more notable investments are Placester, Cohealo, E la Carte, Disruptor Beam, Sociometric Solutions, and Estify.
Romulus Capital has raised one of the largest seed funds in the world. As Gupta says that Romulus Capital are business builders not business betters.
Here an excerpt from the interview with Krishna Gupta:
INDIA New England News: What type of companies are you guys attracted to?
Krishna Gupta: We are stage-focused (seed) and sector-agnostic, but we stay away from highly capital-intensive or long time horizon businesses. If there’s a theme that seems to exist across our portfolio, it’s that we like to partner with technology companies creating value in old-fashioned industries.
These industries are large and have existing players that, while they produce significant revenues/profits, do not understand how to embrace the future of technology.
We seek to partner with agile companies creating compelling products that solve real problems for these existing players and their customers. They regularly have some connection to MIT or Harvard, but that’s not required at all.
INE: What do you look for in a start up?
KG: We look for intelligent, ambitious people who are solving real problems in big markets. Sometimes we find the entrepreneurs don’t have that raw ambition, sometimes they aren’t solving real problems (creating “nice-to-haves” rather than “need-to-haves”), sometimes the market they’re in is just not large enough.
We also think about why the company can maintain a sustainable competitive advantage over the long run. We strongly prefer who pursue a large vision rather than a quick flip; it’s often correlated with personality type.
INE: What have been your company’s biggest accomplishments?
KG: We’ve raised one of the largest seed funds in the world, and we’ve done it in a very entrepreneurial way, starting while I was an undergrad at MIT. We have a world-class group of investors from over 10 countries.
We’ve demonstrated that we are business builders, not business betters; our portfolio companies will attest to the fact that we function more like partners than investors.
Our portfolio companies have also achieved major milestones – E la Carte has signed a large national deal with Applebee’s, Cohealo is working with some of the largest hospital chains in the country, Placester has signed a national deal with Hearst Corporation, etc.
INE: What are your future plans?
KG: We plan to continue building and growing innovative technology businesses for the foreseeable future and then take advantage of our platform to expand the opportunity set.