Prothom is possibly the only Indian outsourcer to global toymaker Hasbro, which is tapping new manufacturing footprints outside China. Hasbro sourced more than $2.5 billion worth toys from China last year.
Prothom -co-founded by two experienced corporate executives Samarjit Bose and Arun Chandrachud -is a harbinger to the country’s po tential in toy manufacturing.“One province in China has 20 million workers in toy making with $20 billion in export revenue. There’s an opportunity for domestic companies as China’s competitiveness wanes,“ Jhaveri of Oliphans Capital said.
Jhaveri and Gulati formalized Oliphans three years ago after selling their stake in broking firm Antique Finance to the promoter family of Sun Pharma. “We didn’t want to live our lives repackaging 7,000-odd listed stocks again,“ Gulati said explaining their transition to startup investing.
They had two big winners in their portfolio by then. Jhaveri had helped Sameer Manchanda start up Den Networks, India’s second largest cable television operator now . The country’s largest facilities management company Bharat Vikas Group (BVG) -founded by Hanumant Rao Gaikwad from Satara in Maharashtra -was the other.
Many of Oliphans-backed companies went to on raise funds from marquee global in vestors such as Goldman Sachs, Apollo Global Management, Warburg Pincus, 3i, Kotak Pri vate Equity and Peepul Capital.It showed up with a recent hit when Warburg invested $134 million in Ecom Express, a deliv ery service catering to the burgeoning domestic online shopping.
Oliphans backed T A Krish nan and his three colleagues with 25 years of experience in courier industry to start Ecom Express. “It was a tough call because founders were around 50 years and not your typical youngster from the campus. But we didn’t get why entrepreneurs should be denied funding because of age and experience,“ Jhaveri, who worked with CLSA and HSBC equities desk previously , said.
The other portfolio investments include Grab.in (formerly Grab a Grub), an e-learning startup Sigrid, OnlineRTI and online grocer Localbaniya.Some of these, like Sigrid, typifies current startup ecosystem: young IITians with tech prowess and an attitude. Oliphans -which invests between half a million and $3 million -also supports investee companies with financing and debt early on. “When there’s a loan to service, it’s a bulwark against loosening up that happens after venture funding,“ Jhaveri said.
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