The Mumbai-headquartered branding and marketing-focused firm, which will also invest in early-stage, consumer-facing startups, was launched last year by Raja Ganapathy, the former chief marketing officer of Sequoia Capital India, along with two seasoned advertising professionals — Vineet Gupta, ex-group chief executive of DDB Mudra and Arun Iyer, former chairman of Lowe Lintas.
Spring Marketing Capital’s debut Sebi-registered, Category-II fund, which has a target corpus of $30 million, also has other prominent investors, including Abhay Pandey, general partner at consumer-focused venture capital firm A91 Partners and Amrish Rau, former PayU India chief executive, as its Limited Partners.
“We back entrepreneurs who are creating a new consumer revolution by using brand as their main tool,” Arjun Anand, principal at Verlinvest, the investment holding company of the founders of global beverages giant Anheuser-Busch, told ET.
“We typically look for authentic and passionate brand stories, and highly entrepreneurial partners to work with. We saw a huge like-mindedness between what Verlinvest does, and what Spring Capital is doing with their maiden fund,” Anand added.
Verlinvest, which has largely made direct investments in India and counts companies such as Byju’s, Veeba, Epigamia and Future Retail among its portfolio, has also backed certain funds, including those operated by Everstone Capital and DSG Consumer Partners.
Other LPs in the fund include Jitendra Gupta, founder of neobank Amica Financial Technologies; Cred founder Kunal Shah; Avnish Bajaj, founder and managing partner at Matrix Partners India and Ash Lilani, managing partner at Saama Capital, who have all invested in their personal capacities.
Spring Marketing Capital differs from traditional venture capital — apart from investing in startups, it will primarily provide marketing and branding expertise, given that its three founders have deep domain knowledge across business strategy, creative and digital marketing.
“The core proposition of the firm is to partner with founders to build the brands of tomorrow,” Ganapathy, founding partner, Spring Capital, told ET.
“The fund allows us to do that it in the ‘skin in the game’ philosophy, where we invest money and have a seat at the table. Our ability to influence the trajectory of the brand positively goes up. It allows us to have that much more impact and longer-term alignment with the founder,” he said.
The Mumbai-based firm, which also operates its own consulting firm, will leverage the same to help portfolio companies figure out their core consumer proposition, to creating their go-to-market strategy, according to Ganapathy.
Spring Marketing Capital will partner with certain venture capital firms to invest between $1 million and $2 million, and follow up to $3 million in select companies. Ganapathy, however, declined to share the names of the VC firms that it is working with, citing confidentiality.
The firm is already consulting with leading Indian startups including ed-tech unicorn Byju’s, online used car marketplace Cars24, credit card payments platform Cred and yogurt brand Epigamia, among others.