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Strartup accelerator Tandem Capital launches operations in India

BANGALORE: Tandem Capital, a startup accelerator from Silicon Valley that backs mobile technology ventures, is launching operations in India, backed by former Infosys director Mohandas Pai and Manipal Groupscion Ranjan Pai. The accelerator will back up to 20 early-stage ventures over the next year and raise capital for a third global fund that will be called, Habit. 

"We want to work with passionate entrepreneurs who use mobile technology to help people live and work better," said Rohit Bhagat, a partner at Tandem who was earlier the head of the Asia-Pacific operations of investment firm Blackrock. 

Tandem will provide seed capital of around $200,000 ( 1.11 crore) and continue to invest through the growth cycle of companies that it mentors. 

As an accelerator with a specialist focus, the Valley-based venture plans to differentiate its offerings in a crowded market for early stage investors in India. In the last two years at least 35-40 private accelerators and incubators have been set up across the country. 

Tandem will house its chosen startups at either the newly opened facility in Bangalore or in the Silicon Valley based on the business model and will work closely with the new ventures in the initial six months. 

In five years since its inception, Tandem has raised two funds, the first, a $12-million fund invested in a portfolio of around nine startups and recorded seven exits. The second, a $32-million fund raised in 2011, included marquee investors such as 
Ram Shriram, an early investor in Google and Dan Cooperman, a former general counsel at Apple 

The Pais, who are not related to each other, have both signed on as partners for the Habit Fund, Tandem's third. "We are still in fund-raising mode but have already started investing from the new fund," said Bhagat. 

Experts say specialist accelerators help startups find focused mentors who add greater value. "The mentors at general accelerators don't have enough depth," said Kunal Upadhyay, CEO, Centre for Innovation Incubation and Entrepreneurship at IIM-A, which manages Infuse Capital, India's first sustainable energy and cleantech focused fund and accelerator.