Venture capitalist Will Poole “wears two hats” – one in India, the other in Seattle.
As the Co-founder and Managing Partner of Unitus Ventures (for the Indian market) and Capria Ventures (for Latin America, Africa, and Asia) — both funds committed to investing in startups that create opportunity for low-income populations — he’s keen on “finding scalable solutions to problems that have not been addressed yet”.
Especially in the Indian market.
Will believes, “If you want to build scale, there’s nowhere better to go than India. And if you solve problems with the Indian perspective of ‘low-cost high-value’, you’re going to have a real edge over the other guys who are starting off at probably 10X your cost base, and therefore, pricing their products accordingly.”
Unitus Ventures, which he launched in 2012, invests in early-stage tech startups primarily in the sectors of jobtech, fintech, healthcare, and education.
Some of its active investments include BetterPlace, 5C Network, Awign, Milaap, BlowHorn, AddressHealth, Cuemath, DriveU, Eduvanz, GigForce, and Masai School, among others.
Out of its 24 portfolio companies across two funds, 17 have received follow-on funding from Unitus and other investors to continue scaling their businesses.
The VC fund measures impact under three primary parameters – social, economic and ecosystem – aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals. These goals include ensuring good health and well-being, ending poverty, and providing quality education for all. Thus, its investments centre around healthcare, education, and jobs.
Creating impact in a pandemic year
Despite the enormous challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 turned out to be a fairly good year for the Bengaluru-based VC fund. “The pandemic-ridden year taught us that only companies with decisive leaders survive,” Will notes.
He goes on to explain, “Our portfolio companies not only survived but also found new paths of growth through the challenging times. With prompt business decisions driven by a fierce problem-solving attitude and deployment of cutting-edge technology, they recovered revenue while increasing their impact.”
Jobtech, fintech, and healthcare were the key sectors driving up these numbers, and will continue to remain in focus in 2021 as well.
Will says, “Out of the many gaps that were exposed during the pandemic, the biggest was that of unemployment, especially in the lower socio-economic income population. In this category, Unitus-backed jobtech companies grew their impact by 64 percent to 9.6 million lives, creating opportunities and upscaling skills for a future-ready workforce.”