Ankit Ratan

Manish Singhal

Founding Partner, pi Ventures

Manish Singhal, a 1992 graduate from IIT Kanpur, is a technologist turned entrepreneur turned venture capitalist. He aspires to help put India on the deep tech innovation map of the world via his work at pi Ventures. He brings 28+ years of experience across diverse sets of fields - building cutting edge deep technology products at global scale, mentoring startups, investing in them and building a deep tech venture fund.

Manish started pi Ventures in early 2016 with the vision of accelerating the development of Artificial Intelligence startups in India. In 2015, he noticed a trend of some companies using patterns in data to bring insights and deliver significantly differentiated outcomes for their customers. Such startups could potentially outshine their peers to become category leaders. The journey of pi Ventures started with this thesis. Without any anchor investors, the initial fund raise was gruelling, however he raised 225CR INR, exceeding the original target of 195CR INR. Since then, he has been instrumental in growing the fund - building the team, making 11 investments and also leading one exit in the portfolio. He represents the fund on the board of eight portfolio companies. His diverse background and knack of building companies has been useful for the growth of startups. Many portfolio companies have raised significant capital post pi’s investment. His ability to have a deep level understanding of technology helps the fund in evaluating tech startups in a unique way and built a reputation for being a lead investor for AI and deep tech startups.

Over the last year, he has been working on identifying unique opportunities in the deep tech AI space as well as emerging technologies which are not built on digital fabric (Beyond Digital). Based on this work, he led an investment in Agnikul, a space rocket company disrupting the access to space using 3D printed rocket engines. This investment is pioneering the way the venture capital industry looks at investing in companies on the cutting edge of technology.

In May 2020, he conceptualized and ran the pi Fellows programme, bringing together 12 selected individuals from around the world, keen to learn about deep tech investing. The programme ran on 8 weekends and was structured as a course work on aspects like evaluating founders / investments/ raising money for the fund etc. Faculty for the course included who’s who of the venture capital industry in India like Subrata Mitra from Accel, Shailesh Lakhani from Sequoia etc. The content from these courses was shared in a blog for the benefit of folks aspiring to become venture investors in deep tech which further helped build pi’s reputation in deep tech investing among entrepreneurs and investors alike.

Before pi, Manish co-founded and led it to become the leading marketplace for startups& early stage investors in India. In just 12 months, he grew the investor base to 700+ investors from 20 countries and got 1800 startups on the platform. In his early days, he stood 61st in the IIT-JEE. After completing his electrical engineering from IIT Kanpur, he was instrumental in building products and teams in different startups and established organisations like Sling Media, Ittiam Systems and Motorola. He has contributed to the standardization of MPEG-4 standard as well and holds a couple of technology patents to his name. While heading the R&D center for Sling Media, he led the organic growth of the center from 15 engineers to over 150+. In just 3.5 years, Sling Media had a $380mn exit to Echostar Inc, primarily on the basis of technology that was developed at the R&D center. He is also a certified coach under the International Coaching Federation, USA. He is a keen psychologist and volunteers his time to help people facing mental health issues. He is also an amateur wildlife photographer.

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