Emerging Entrepreneurs

A big believer in online space

N Ramakrishnan | Updated on January 23, 2018

Rehan Yar Khan, Managing Partner and Founder, Orios Venture Partners

An entrepreneur from the time he was in college, Rehan Yar Khan, 44, is Founder and Managing Partner, Orios Venture Partners. Orios manages a ₹300-crore fund and is in the process of raising its second fund of ₹900 crore. The venture capital firm invests ₹3-12 crore at the seed stage and ₹30-45 crore in early-stage ventures. Orios has invested in 16 companies in the consumer, SaaS, enterprise and online brand sectors.

Education: BA in Economics and Political Science, St Xavier’s College, Mumbai.

Prior experience: I had the entrepreneurial bug even while at college and I set up my first business in my last year of college. It was 1992 and the year of liberalisation and planting material imports had opened up for the first time. I went overseas with some initial capital from my parents and brought back agencies of a few suppliers. I supplied the planting material across the country, travelling deep into rural areas. Subsequently, I built two more businesses – one in the long-distance telecom re-routing space that took advantage of the arbitrage in rates between India and the US, and then an e-commerce company delivering flowers and gifts. In 2008, I started making angel investments from the surplus money that my business generated. I was active at the Indian Angel Network and also helped the Mumbai chapter get going. I led investments into many wonderful companies from 2008 to 2012 such as Ola, Druva and Jigsee.

Sectors interested in: I am a big believer in the online consumption space in India, which is expected to grow from 30 million people transacting online in 2014 to about 100 million in 2018. While some areas like e-commerce have been well addressed, there are many such as finance, budget travel and used goods that have a lot of scope. The market ahead will be different from the one that has so far emerged because the 70 million that is now coming online will be of a different income strata. The other space I like is software products for global markets from India.

Investments: Yumist (meals) and ZoRooms (hotels).

Typical working day: In venture capital, we travel regularly as we have portfolio companies spread across India, especially Bengaluru and Delhi, and we also travel overseas to hubs such as Shanghai and San Francisco to keep in touch with global innovation. It is super fun and exciting to keep abreast of the innovation taking place globally. While in town, because Mumbai is also a hub for entrepreneurship, I spend a good amount of time meeting my investee companies or meeting founders where we have interest.

Hobbies: Playing with my dog and keeping him happy is my biggest hobby. Other than that I like running and riding the motor bike. Surprisingly, Mumbai is a good city to ride the motorbike at night.

Gadgets: I am not a big gadgets guy, but our entire office technology system is built around Google Apps and Android. So, I keep within that framework. Even the Mac I use is via Chrome browser.

Advice to entrepreneurs: Make a powerpoint presentation by researching online guidelines for creating a great one. Mail that across to us. Try and meet us in person if we are interested. Avoid contact via Twitter, SMS and WhatsApp. Be prepared to provide a lot of details. If it is seed funding, don’t bother with a lawyer because your team is limited, you need to focus on the business.

Published on August 24, 2015

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