Investing in emerging markets is a challenging and daunting job. The complexities of these new markets, the speed at which they grow and the local challenges they face are all huge barriers that investors have to navigate when investing in these areas. Leo Capital is a firm which has done well in invested in driven and talented founders while realising positive investments for our world.
Written by: Tanay Sonawane, Jasper Wigley and Filip Vrábel
CORE INVESTMENT PHILOSOPHY
Leo Capital, established in 2018, has become a pivotal player in the investment landscape, particularly in India and Southeast Asia. Focused on early-stage, technology-centric opportunities, the firm has demonstrated a commitment to fostering innovation and driving growth in dynamic sectors such as business and consumer services, information technology, e-commerce, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and more.
At the heart of Leo Capital's investment philosophy is the belief in the transformative power of technology. The firm strategically targets opportunities where technology serves as a lever, unlocking substantial potential for scalability and market impact. The investment spectrum spans from early seed rounds to pre-Series A, with a flexible investment size ranging from $500K to $2M. This adaptability allows Leo Capital to engage with companies at various stages of development, including those at the concept stage.
Leo Capital's success is underpinned by a team of seasoned professionals led by Co-Founders and Managing Partners Rajul Garg and Shwetank Verma. The team, consisting of industry veterans and domain experts, boasts a collective expertise that spans various geographies, industries, and functional areas. With a core team of seven professionals, Leo Capital is well-positioned to identify, evaluate, and nurture high-potential ventures.
The firm seeks out ventures led by persistent and insightful teams who have invested substantial time and energy in understanding the intricacies of their respective industries. Leo Capital values clear strategic thinking and a well-defined roadmap for business development. This approach is agnostic to the investment stage, allowing Leo Capital to invest at a concept stage or later, depending on factors such as traction, scalability, and the specific needs of the space.
Their investment portfolio is a testament to its diverse interests and commitment to innovation. The firm has invested in companies spanning sectors like financial software, business/productivity software, network management software, entertainment software, clothing, and more. Notable investments include early-stage VC funding for TravClan, seed funding for Atoa and IntelliTicks, and later-stage VC funding for LambdaTest.
Leo Capital actively engages with its portfolio companies beyond providing financial support. The firm holds board seats in prominent companies like Zeeve, Symphony (Insurance Brokers), LambdaTest, and Sheroes, demonstrating a hands-on approach to fostering growth and strategic direction.
With a dry powder of $13.12M and a track record of 75 investments, Leo Capital has made its mark as an influential player in the venture capital ecosystem. The firm's exit strategy is also noteworthy, with successful mergers and acquisitions, including Logiq.ai, Apica, Indyfin, and others.
As Leo Capital actively seeks new investments, the firm remains committed to its vision of supporting and catalysing innovation in the technology landscape. The planned third fund, along with strategic partnerships like Cendana Capital, positions Leo Capital as a driving force in shaping the future of technology-driven entrepreneurship in India and Southeast Asia.
Leo Capital has a diverse portfolio of 48 companies, with a tech-oriented focus, representing areas such as deeptech, generative AI, SaaS, healthtech, edtech, etc.
As AI, and especially AGI, has recently caused quite a buzz, we find it sensible to start with Leo’s AGI investment: Promptly. Promptly’s mission statement is to “[build] generative AI agents, applications and chatbots that cater to your users' unique needs”. The way it works from a customer’s point of view is a rather simple three-step process: you pick your configuration depending on the use case, add your data and then just publish the app. Popular use cases include a custom ChatGPT, a story generator and ‘Give Voice to Stories’ where a story generated using ChatGPT is converted to audio. The business model is quite intriguing. The ‘Free’ version gives access to 10 Apps, 1 Private App, 1M Character Storage, 100 Requests and Community Support, obviously for the price of absolutely nothing. The ‘Pro’ version, which Promptly refers to as the “best fit” for most users, is probably intended to be the main product offering and provides access to 100 Apps, 10 Private Apps, 100M Character Storage, 10K Requests and Basic Support. It is priced at $99.99/mo or $999 yearly, which seems quite high for consumers, so this indicates that Promptly envisions itself as a B2B SaaS. Promptly also offers ‘Enterprise’ pricing, which means a custom price for Unlimited Apps, Unlimited Private Apps, Usage Character Storage, Unlimited Requests and Dedicated Support with White-glove service. While many of these terms are quite opaque, this is the high-end offering, and the fact that the price is flexible with no stated anchor price may indicate that it is priced even more steeply than the Pro version. Time will tell whether such a general product can be sold at such premium at scale and thus whether Promptly can succeed. While the website speaks of ‘Countless Possibilities’ it is hard to see just yet what specific use cases can Promptly provide over-and-above the already very well known and used functions of AI software found online.
Another quite broad product offering is provided by GTM Buddy, another AI company in Leo’s portfolio. GTM means “Go To Market” and its premise is just that, stating that using it means “reps can build trust quickly - and close deals faster - by finding the right information at the right time”. What does this mean in practice? By leveraging advanced artificial intelligence, GTM Buddy automates up to 80% of the manual tagging process, eliminating the need for tedious manual tagging and tag hierarchies. Such a solution not only saves valuable time but also enhances deal velocity by seamlessly integrating contextual language into content, making it more relevant and impactful for sales teams. The platform enables users to effortlessly share contextually relevant content in emails, conversations, and meetings, impressing entire buying teams with well-researched background information and compelling differentiators. It also provides an analytics dashboard with valuable insights into how buyers engage with content, allowing companies to optimise their strategies and improve customer engagement. In sum, it is another example of an AI company which promotes a redirection of focus from time-consuming organisational tasks, thus helping sales representatives create ‘compelling customer experiences’.
Another worthy mention is LambdaTest. What makes this a truly unique SaaS is that it is a testing company - it earns its revenue by testing the clouds of its customers (mostly SMSs - small-to-medium sized businesses). The testing platform offers a comprehensive suite of testing methods, including Live Testing, which allows users to conduct interactive cross-browser testing on over 3000 real mobile and desktop browsers, whether the websites are publicly accessible or locally hosted. Automated Testing is another feature that enables users to execute browser tests using popular tools such as Selenium, Cypress, Appium, Hyperexecute, Playwright, and Puppeteer on a secure and scalable automation cloud. This service allows running tests at scale across 3000+ browsers and devices. Additionally, the platform supports Mobile App Testing, facilitating live interactive testing of mobile apps on various Android and iOS devices. Users can efficiently test and debug mobile apps on both emulators/simulators and a real device cloud, enhancing the overall testing process. The pricing model is similar to the ones we have seen above, as it also offers a ‘Free Forever’ version with limited features but unlike GTM Buddy offers two higher tiers - ‘Live’ for $15/month and ‘Real Device’ for $25/month - along with an ‘Enterprise’ version, which, just like with GTM, requires contacting Sales to establish a price.
Lastly, we should look at ‘ScanPay’ which promises itself to be “One app for all payments”, a phrasing which would remind VC aficionados of the concepts behind X.com and Confinity, which later merged into PayPal. In fact, such dreams of an ‘all-in-one’ payment platform could be seen as surviving that Internet boom era, as reflected in Elon Musk’s renaming of Twitter into X Corp and pushing of a ‘payments platform’ vision for the now-rebranded Twitter. ScanPay is in many ways a spiritual successor - this convenient payment solution eliminates the necessity for additional hardware or card readers. Instead, customers can effortlessly make payments by tapping their credit cards directly on your phone, streamlining the transaction process. Compatible with both iPhone and Android devices, the system supports various digital payment methods, including NFC-enabled Tap to Pay, QR code payments, links, and transactions through digital payment apps. The platform is inclusive, accepting all NFC-enabled credit and debit cards, allowing customers with contactless cards featuring an NFC symbol to simply tap and pay. It is too early to tell whether it will be able to compete with X Corp (or the countless other FinTech startups mushrooming around us everyday), but nonetheless ScanPay could be the unicorn skyrocketing Leo’s portfolio.
Rajul Garg, one of the driving forces behind Leo Capital, is Co-Founder and Managing Partner. With a profound passion for company building, Rajul actively collaborates with portfolio companies, drawing from his rich entrepreneurial background. A serial entrepreneur himself, Rajul has successfully founded and nurtured ventures such as Pine Labs, GlobalLogic, and Sunstone. Prior to Leo, he distinguished himself as a prominent angel investor, backing early-stage successes like Meesho, Reify Health, and 1mg. Splitting his time between Delhi and Philadelphia, Rajul embodies a global perspective in steering Leo Capital towards innovation and growth.
Shwetank Verma, also Co-Founder, and Managing Partner at Leo Capital bring a wealth of entrepreneurial experience in health and education. Leading investments beyond India, Shwetank operates out of Singapore, frequently traversing to India. His personal commitment to opportunities in health-tech and insurtech reflects in Leo Capital's strategic focus. Shwetank's role is pivotal in expanding Leo Capital's footprint and identifying transformative opportunities in the global landscape.
Ravi Srivastava, a Partner at Leo Capital, channels his passion for tech innovation as a catalyst for inclusive human progress. With a history of founding Purvi Capital and kickstarting Jump's first black-box trading group, Ravi stands as a pioneer in the Indian startup ecosystem. As one of the earliest angels, he has led pre-seed rounds for groundbreaking companies like Tala, Docquity, Sunstone, and Knowlarity. Ravi's insatiable curiosity centers around AI, Web3, Fintech, and interdisciplinary solutions at the convergence of life sciences and engineering.
Dinesh Singh, Partner at Leo Capital India, carries a diverse entrepreneurial background in education, travel, and AI. Co-founding Sunstone, a leader in India's entry-level MBA program, Dinesh resides between Bangalore and Pune. His responsibilities encompass exploring new opportunities and steering portfolio companies toward success. Dinesh's multifaceted expertise enriches Leo Capital's approach to investments in the dynamic Indian and US markets.
Harish Kumar, Partner at Leo Capital, brings over two decades of investment banking experience, previously heading Technology Investment Banking for South East Asia at Credit Suisse. Based in Singapore, Harish leads Corporate Development efforts and Capital Formation activities for Leo Capital. His extensive industry knowledge positions him as a vital asset in steering Leo Capital's strategic growth initiatives.
Henry Goodwin, the Venture Partner for Europe, focuses on emerging opportunities in Europe, leveraging his experience in assisting high-growth tech companies scale internationally. With a decade in Asia working on growth opportunities, Henry's expertise is particularly valuable in navigating B2B marketplaces, LegalTech, and FinTech sectors.
Pavitar Raheja, the Chief Financial Officer at Leo Capital India, brings over 15 years of diverse financial analysis, due diligence, and transaction advisory experience. His previous roles at Ernst & Young, Grant Thornton, and EBIX Travels have fortified him with invaluable insights. Pavitar, based out of Chandigarh, plays a pivotal role in managing risk, compliance, and financial stewardship for Leo Capital.
Leo Capital is staffed by an amazing team of experienced investors and operators. It has achieved much since it's founding - investing in incredible founders who are really transforming emerging markets for the better. We really can not wait to see what the firm helps build next.