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ANGELIC ANANDAN

Google’s India head is also the country’s most prolific angel investor

By Manu Balachandran

Since February 2011, MIT and Stanford-trained Rajan Anandan has been the man in charge of Google in India.

In those four years, apart from driving the internet giant’s growth in the country, Anandan has also been busy playing a hand in India’s booming startup ecosystem. In the recent months, the former Dell and Microsoft executive has emerged as India’s most prolific angel investor, according to data compiled by financial research firm, Venture Intelligence.

Between January 2014 and June 2015, Anandan invested in 15 startups, mostly in IT & ITES (information technology and information technology enabled services) sector with the lone exception of a healthcare startup. The value of Anandan’s investment is unknown since he has invested along with friends or other venture capital firms.

Quartz  has emailed Anandan to confirm the numbers but we haven’t heard back yet.

Among Anandan’s investments over the past year are online fund raising company LetsVenture, online city and lifestyle guide portal Little Black Book and crowd funding website Wishberry.

Here’s how he explained his investment philosophy in an interview to The Economic Times last year.

I run Google India. That’s what I do 15 hours a day. That leaves 1-2 hours a day, during the week and weekends when I spend time with start-ups. The way I am able to manage is by three things. One, In India I invest only in technologies I know really well. So very quickly I can figure out yes or no. Second, I always co-invest with others who have more time than me.

Third thing is that I am very clear as to where I can add value and where I cannot. For example, I can help with building the team as I know lot of people in the eco-system. Besides, experience helps. I have been doing angel investing since 1991. When I see a company I can make decisions fast.

Anandan—who started out as a part-time angel investor in 1991—is estimated to have a portfolio of 40 investments across India, Sri Lanka and the US. He is also the co-founder of Sri Lanka-based venture capital firm Blue Ocean Ventures.

Anandan is followed by Krishnan Ganesh, founder of online tutoring company, TutorVista and Deepak Shahdadpuri, founder of Beacon India Private Equity Fund, as India’s most prolific angel investors. Since 2014, Ganesh has invested in 10 startups, while Shahdadpuri has invested in nine.

Kunal Bahl and Rohit Bansal, co-founders of online market place Snapdeal, have also turned angel investors. In 2015, both Bahl and Bansal invested in four startups. The duo’s portfolio includes online market place for travel Headout and clothing company, Bewakoof.

India is currently the world’s third largest startup ecosystem with over 3,000 new companies as of 2014. By 2020, the country is expected to have 10,500 startups, according to The National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM).

And the startup boom is steadily heating up. In the first six months of 2015 alone, startups in India received more funding from venture capitalists than the whole of last year, according to New Delhi-based consultancy firm VCCEdge.