Chinese venture capital firm Shunwei Capital has made more than 20 early-stage startup investments in India since early 2016, a threshold when smartphone shipments in the country exceeded 100 million units and carriers started rolling out affordable 4G mobile internet services, said the firm’s co-founder Tuck Lye Koh during a speech at the WISE New Economy Conference 2019 held in Beijing from November 26 to 27.
WISE is the flagship annual event organized by Chinese tech media outlet 36Kr, which just closed its IPO in the United States this month.
Shunwei’s Indian portfolio includes social e-commerce startup Meesho, aka the Indian counterpart of Pinduoduo; social media platform ShareChat, which is similar to China’s Weibo; as well as online lending platform KrazyBee, Koh told audience while giving his speech at the stage of a side session at the WISE conference.
The side session dedicates to the theme of Chinese startups and investors’ overseas gold rush.
Meesho has closed its Series D round in August, raising USD 125 million in August from investors including South African tech conglomerate Naspers and Facebook.
Meesho features a reselling model, under which individuals including boutique owners, teachers, students, and housewives leverage social platforms WhatsApp, Facebook, and Instagram to sell various goods including clothes and suitcases to their social contacts. The startup, which is in charge of sourcing suppliers for these resellers who want to earn commission fees in their spare time, has also been recruiting Chinese suppliers.
ShareChat allows Indians to share content on its online platform in 14 Indian local languages, according to its website. With more than 60 million monthly active users, ShareChat is India’s largest regional social media platform and is now valued above USD 500 million, said Koh.
ShareChat said it has raised USD 100 million in a Series D round led by Twitter, KrASIA reported in August.
Krazybee, which has provided instant online lending services to more than 2 million young professionals in India with automated underwriting technology, is now valued at above USD 150 million, said Koh, who compared the fintech platform to China’s online lending platform Fenqile.
Koh also told the audience that although apps in India could acquire users fast, there is still a long way to monetization and it is very difficult for startups to raise over USD 100 million as there are not enough domestic VC capital in India.
He added that despite the fact that there are not enough exit channels for VC firms in India now, Shunwei is still betting big in the country and is currently hunting for edtech startups.
Shunwei was co-founded in 2011 by Lei Jun, chairman of smartphone vendor Xiaomi, which is now the largest vendor in the country since it started to crack the Indian market as early as 2014.
The Chinese VC firm, which is an investor in Xiaomi itself, is not alone in seeking opportunities in India’s fast-growing mobile internet sector. Companies such as Alibaba and other VC firms including Fosun RZ Capital are all looking for unicorns in the populous South Asian country, bring over there capital and aspirations from China’s proven business models and technologies.
36Kr is KrASIA’s parent company