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June 24, 1999
Gray Cell gets $1.7 million in venture capitalM D Riti in Bangalore
Gray Cell has announced the first round of venture capital infusion totalling $1.7 million. The Bangalore based company develops technology and services for content flow from Web to cell phones and pager.
There are three co-investors in this round of funding: two are venture capital companies of Walden International Investment Group and Draper International besides a private investment by K B Chandrashekhar, founder and chairman of Exodus.
The investment replicates those made in Silicon Valley ventures and is expected to set the trend of venture capital access for emerging Indian fast-growth Internet start-ups, a company statement hopes.
Gray Cell claims it is the first Web based consumer products company from India.
The company will be launching a consumer lifestyle product that helps wireless device users to manage the delivery of their favourite Web services on to their current mobile phone or pager.
The investment will be used to rapidly distribute the soon to-be-launched product with the funds being used to market the product globally and rapidly acquire consumers.
Announcing the investment, Gray Cell founder and CEO T S Rajesh said, "The Internet-to-mobile device is one of the biggest business opportunities ever and we believe that we have a killer app for this market. We are a first-of-its-kind for the venture capital investment in India. We have been pioneers in the Internet-to-mobile technologies and have a young and aggressive team, which is easily among the best in the world in this space."
Walden International Managing Partner Som Shankar Das says: "Walden believes in companies who can leverage emerging market trends and who have the capability to build unique business models. We see Gray Cell as a company with high growth potential and we expect it to benefit from our global network of contacts and experience."
Elaborating on the investment, Abhay Havaldar, managing director, Draper International, says, "Venture financing requires identifying and nurturing an idea, providing management expertise and transforming the company from a small start-up to an organisation of standing. We see the tremendous opportunity that exists in Gray Cell's business plan and hope to grow the value of our investment by aiding the company in its consolidation process."
Walden International Investment Group, headquartered in San Francisco, is an international venture capital firm, managing funds in excess of $850 million. It is affiliated to the Walden Group that has invested in over 200 companies in Asia-Pacific and the United States.
Adopting a hands-on investment approach and typically acting as a lead investor, it targets investments in high growth industries including telecommunications, healthcare, information technology, industrial engineering, basic computer products, financial services, lifestyle related projects, building materials, and infrastructure / privatisation projects.
Draper International, a venture capital company that exclusively invests in Indian companies doing business in India and the US, has at least half of its portfolio in the information technology and telecommunications businesses. It also invests in other manufacturing and service businesses that are on a fast growth curve.
Typically, Draper invests in start-up companies or in later-stage companies that demonstrate the ability to successfully develop and market existing products.
Its ability to add value to portfolio companies through access to information and resources in both India and Silicon Valley gives the fund a unique position among international venture capital funds.
Gray Cell is a venture capital funded new media company, creating branded Web based consumer products for mobile lifestyles. The company was established in March 1996 with a mission to leverage business opportunities from the convergence between the Internet and mobile communication industries.
The company is now set to create an entirely new market space with the launch of the Internet mobile phone product.
Gray Cell has 31 young employees, all in Bangalore.
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