Good morning, and happy Tuesday folks. Anmol and I have to apologize for our MIA Sunday posts this month. We've both been feeling ill and juggling work commitments this month, which has unfortunately hit our weekly column. But we're getting back into the swing of things! Anyway, to today's newsletter. One of our favourite VC firms, Blume Ventures, celebrates Blume Day every year, and with the pandemic on, they took to Clubhouse for a session with Nandan Nilekani and Balaji Srinivasan. It was an interesting discussion, and I write about it below. And in funding news cosmetics platform Purplle raises $45 Mn from Sequoia.
➡️ Nandan Nilekani and Balaji Srinivasan joined Blume's Karthik Reddy and Kunal Bajaj to discuss the next decade of Indian tech. The full conversation is available on the linked YouTube. It was definitely an interesting discussion, and pretty wide ranging - worth checking out if you didn't listen in on CH.
➡️ Personally, I found Nilekani talking about his experience building Aadhar and working within a public sector environment the most impactful. He noted how consensus building was crucial and how difficult it is, because unlike a private company consensus can't be built by diktat, and there are many differing, and often, irreconcilable differences between different stakeholders. An anecdote about traveling to every state to meet every Chief Minister and get them on board really stood out, and was just a small example of the kind of work that has gone into building Aadhar.
➡️ Nilekani also weighed in on crypto, saying that thinking of crypto as an asset class and allowing people to hold some is probably the right approach in India (similar to Gold) with controls on transaction / ownership. He was less convinced about crypto as a medium of transaction replacing the rupee.
➡️ Balaji was unsurprisingly the crypto bull, arguing that crypto has a role to play in addressing the massive credit gap Indian businesses (especially MSMEs face). Crypto, he argued, can bridge this by making a diverse array of curated financing instruments available to MSME borrowers. I see the appeal, but I'm probably too much of a crypto noob to have followed his full chain of thought to be honest. I did think it was interesting that he highlighted tech (software) and media as two areas for India to double down on given its inherent strength in this fields. Have to agree.
➡️ He also noted that there's potential for India to be a trusted partners to other countries developing their own national stack and neutral protocols. I know there have been attempts at this, and this is one thing I thing we should be doing, and are probably being let down on by the mandarins over at the MEA tbh.
2. https://bit.ly/3lGjpW8: Purplle raises $45 Mn from Sequoia
➡️ Online beauty and cosmetics selling platform Purplle has secured $45 million from Sequoia Capital India, Verlinvest, Blume Ventures, and JSW Ventures in a Series D round (we think?)
➡️ Last week we covered MyGlamm's Series C raise, and as we noted then this does seems like a great year for omnichannel beauty brands especially with the upcoming Nykaa IPO and SUGAR raising a Series C. Add Purplle to the tally.
➡️ Purplle claims to have over 1,000 brands with nearly 50,000 products available on its website and app and more than seven million monthly active users on the beauty marketplace. Purplle competes directly with Nykaa and other horizontal majors such as Amazon and Flipkart.
➡️ It's an interesting space to watch for now to see how things shake out. I'm surprised we haven't seen a major international cosmetics brand make an acquisition / investment play in the space yet to be honest. IIRC, Estee Lauder invested in Forest Essentials a few years ago, but that's a bit of an outlier?
Feedback & ❤️ always appreciated BONUS (Tweet of the day): https://twitter.com/MorningContext/status/1374239517759008775?s=20
If you received this as a forward, consider subscribing here 👉🏽 keepingupwithindia.com/api/wa