Two trailblazing tech pioneers are working to seed the Texas-India enterprise connection

When former Wipro CEO Abidali Neemuchwala moved to the Dallas space together with his household in 2007, it was intentional.

Neemuchwala, who was born in India and emigrated to the USA in 1997, selected North Texas for its household values and heat climate — and other people.

In June 2020, Neemuchwala, 53, left his high put up on the $8 billion-a-year, India-based expertise firm, citing household commitments. For the following section of his profession, he wished to do one thing completely different. He wished to provide again to the group and unfold the phrase about Dallas.

“It’s greater than what you see within the TV sequence,” he mentioned. “To me, it’s an untold story: The actual Silicon Valley of the USA was in Dallas.”

He’s referring to Richardson’s telecom hall, however he’s additionally describing his imaginative and prescient of the area’s future.

That’s why his subsequent cease after WiPro is a partnership with longtime entrepreneur, investor and former expertise govt Dayakar Puskoor to create Dallas Enterprise Capital.

Neemuchwala calls Dallas’ mixture of expertise, potential clients, enterprise local weather and wealth a “excellent storm to create a enterprise capital ecosystem.”

Puskoor, 58, has a wealthy historical past of enterprise capital regionally. In 2012, he began Naya Ventures, a enterprise capital agency that has invested in 22 corporations with 5 profitable exits. The corporate he based within the mid-Nineteen Nineties, JPMobile, was bought in 2005 to Good Expertise for $500 million.

Regardless of their stature as D-FW tech leaders, Puskoor and Neemuchwala truly met by a shocking mutual good friend: Neemuchwala’s son. Whereas in school on the College of Texas at Austin, his son landed an internship at Puskoor’s Naya Ventures. He was the one who linked the dots between the 2 entrepreneurs and made the introduction.

It clearly went properly. The pair launched Dallas Enterprise Capital in September and have already set to work. They received’t say how a lot of their very own cash they put into the fund, however Puskoor says the entire companions’ contributions quantity to 7%.

They’re concentrating on a really particular sort of portfolio firm: early-stage business-to-business corporations specializing in rising applied sciences like cloud-based software program, synthetic intelligence/machine studying and prolonged actuality.

They’re singularly targeted on this area — if different corporations method them that don’t match the standards, even when Puskoor and Neemuchwala trust within the product, they flip them away.

In December, the agency introduced its first funding: $3.5 million in Austin-based PLNAR, a man-made intelligence and augmented actuality firm that paperwork property harm by a smartphone in an immersive and interactive means.

Dallas Enterprise Capital’s goal funding is between $2 million and $5 million — a spokesperson calls it their “candy spot.” The agency will solely put money into corporations bringing in a minimum of $1 million in annual income, although they’ve informally mentored corporations decrease than that threshold.

Like many issues within the enterprise world, COVID-19 has upended how the enterprise capital agency interacts with potential portfolio corporations. In some methods, Puskoor thinks it has modified issues for the higher.

“COVID-19 created an setting proper now the place there’s no extra monopoly for the Bay space,” he mentioned. “You will be sitting wherever on this planet as a enterprise capitalist and as a startup.”

Then once more, it does take the intimacy out of investing, he added.

“I by no means thought I might put money into an organization with out assembly them and having a espresso or a dinner.”

The Dallas Enterprise Capital group in Irving (from left): Venkat Kolli, Abidali Neemuchwala, Dayakar Puskoor, Manu Sharma and Adhavan Manickam. The agency additionally has an workplace and employees in India.
(Lawrence Jenkins / Particular Contributor)

There’s a cause it’s necessary for Puskoor and Neemuchwala to have face time with portfolio corporations — they view mentorship, not simply an unfettered funding, as a giant a part of the job.

Puskoor has adopted the identical motto at Dallas Enterprise Capital that he used for Naya Ventures: “entrepreneurs investing in entrepreneurs.”

In a world that’s turning into more and more saturated with enterprise capitalists, a lot of whom began out as funding bankers somewhat than within the expertise trade, Neemuchwala says startups will get to resolve which capital they wish to settle for.

They are saying Dallas Enterprise Capital’s holistic method to enterprise units it aside: It means assist with messaging, with mentoring, with expertise and with connecting two corporations to one another.

It’s additionally about technique and rising an organization. Puskoor places it when it comes to steps. As soon as an organization will get to $1 million annual income, he says, the following step is attending to $10 million, and from $10 million to $15 million.

That course of is just not all the time intuitive — Puskoor and Neemuchwala know from private expertise.

“I used to see that simply getting an introduction was not sufficient,” he mentioned. “It’s not solely mentorship, however how do you assist them shut the deal? To shut the deal, it’s a must to work behind the scenes.”

Regardless of the title, Dallas Enterprise Capital has two places of work — one in Irving and one in Hyderabad, India. In complete, the agency has near 10 staff, with 4 in India.

Basically, Puskoor says the objective is to put money into each U.S. and Indian corporations, however provides that the majority of their earlier investments have been corporations based mostly in the USA. And in the case of Indian corporations, they hope to assist them show their product in India after which come to the U.S. and base their corporations in Dallas.

They typically use the time period “cross-pollination.” Over the following 10 years, they plan to put money into 5 to 6 corporations within the U.S. and the identical quantity in India every year.

The 2 entrepreneurs view India as a rustic ripe for funding. Puskoor describes India as a altering panorama, going from extra of a providers nation to product and expertise.

Neemuchwala sees D-FW and India as related areas with lots of expertise. He factors to the variety of unicorns, or startups valued at $1 billion or extra, within the two nations. He sees India’s numbers steadily rising to compete with nations just like the U.S., China and the UK.

U.S.-India Chamber of Commerce DFW president Neel Gonuguntla is aware of Puskoor’s and Neemuchwala’s work. In truth, Puskoor serves on the group’s board of administrators. She echoes their evaluation.

“There are numerous of us who consider the U.S.-India commerce relationship, and significantly the Texas-India relationship, is stuffed with alternative ready to be tapped,” she mentioned.

Texas receives the most important quantity of Indian funding within the U.S., Gonuguntla mentioned. Indian direct funding in U.S. corporations totaled $5 billion in 2019, based on the U.S. Commerce Consultant’s workplace. American buyers put $45.9 billion into Indian corporations the identical yr.

And Texas boasts the second-largest group of Indian-People within the U.S. It’s a connection that state leaders have fostered.

In 2018, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott played tic-tac-toe with a robot in Bengaluru, India, as Abidali Neemuchwala, then-CEO of Wipro, and first lady Cecilia Abbott watched.
In 2018, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott performed tic-tac-toe with a robotic in Bengaluru, India, as Abidali Neemuchwala, then-CEO of Wipro, and first woman Cecilia Abbott watched.(Robert T. Garrett / Employees)

In 2018, Gov. Greg Abbott led a commerce mission to India, visiting Mumbai, Bengaluru, Agra and New Delhi. Whereas there, he visited Wipro’s innovation labs in Bengaluru and introduced that the corporate can be creating 150 jobs at a brand new cybersecurity and superior expertise hub in Plano.

That journey additionally yielded a $500 million funding by JSW Group in a Houston-area metal mill.

Other than their Indian heritage, entrepreneurial spirits and love of chess, what Puskoor and Neemuchwala additionally share is a love for Dallas so robust it’s palpable. The boys each raised their kids right here.

As Puskoor’s spouse as soon as instructed him: “I’m not transferring wherever else.”

Elizabeth Djinis is a particular contributor who previously wrote for the Tampa Bay Instances and Sarasota Herald-Tribune. She is also a former Dallas Morning Information reporting intern.

Wipro, an India IT company with 1,200 employees in Texas, opened a digital innovation center in Plano in 2019. This is one of the center's common spaces with a custom mural.
Wipro, an India IT firm with 1,200 staff in Texas, opened a digital innovation middle in Plano in 2019. This is without doubt one of the middle’s widespread areas with a customized mural.
(Ashley Landis / Employees Photographer)

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