Verlinvest to invest in VC firm Spring

Madhav Chanchani | TNN
Bengaluru: Verlinvest, the Belgium-based investment holding company created by the founding families of beer major Anheuser-Busch InBev, is coming in as the anchor investor in Spring Marketing Capital, a $30-million venture capital fund. The firm expects to make a first close of $15-20 million by March this year and start making new investments.
The new venture fund has also got managing partners from top VC firms like Matrix Partners’ Avnish Bajaj, A91 Partners’ Abhay Pandey and Saama Capital’s Ash Lilani. There are also entrepreneurs like Cred’s Kunal Shah and Citrus Pay’s Amrish Rau & Jitendra Gupta as backers.

Spring Marketing Capital is taking up a unique concept where it will closely work with VC firms to co-invest in their consumer-facing portfolio companies to help founders shape branding and marketing strategy in the early days. Its founders include Sequoia Capital India’s former chief marketing officer Raja Ganapathy, besides top professionals from advertisement world, including former DDB Mudra CEO Vineet Gupta and Lowe Lintas chairman Arun Iyer. “Internet is clearly shortening the time-to-market for consumer products and winners will be players who build a brand and not just distribution. The marketing industry is fragmented and is not tailored towards startups but large corporations,” said Ganapathy, who has also worked at Ogilvy and Deutsche Bank, talking about the gap it is filling in the market.

The commitment by Verlinvest, which manages assets of $1.8 billion globally, will give it heft as it has backed companies like Kishore Biyani’s Future Consumer Enterprises, yogurt maker Epigamia and wine maker Sula.

Spring Marketing expects to make about five co-investments of $1-2 million each year, while it will also work on around 15 projects or assignments, especially with larger players. Over the last 12 months, it has already worked with 20 brands including education technology unicorn Byju’s and mattress company Wakefit besides large companies like Cipla for its Nicotex product.