IU Ventures, which assists Indiana University students, faculty, staff and alumni with advancing high-potential, new venture opportunities, has signed a two-year MOU, or memorandum of understanding, with Lead Angels, a venture capital firm based in Mumbai, India.
Jason Whitney, associate vice president of IU Ventures, said the MOU establishes a working relationship between the two organizations.
“We will work together quarterly to evaluate opportunities from our pipelines and portfolios that may have a desire to expand one way or the other,” Whitney said. “Or we might be able to identify resources we can share that may be valuable in the scaling of the business.”
Attorney Shishir Deshpande, an alumnus of the IU Robert H. McKinney School of Law at IUPUI and president of the Delhi chapter of the IU Alumni Association, crafted the MOU after conversations with IU Ventures, Lead Angels and Durjay Puri – an IU South Bend alumnus who is also one of the founding members of the Delhi chapter of Lead Angels.
Deshpande said that as a chapter leader, he has been an advocate of facilitating business between alumni connections, including webinars to educate alumni about opportunities available in other countries.
“I have always believed that an IU education brought with it a lifetime of great professional relationships, but those tend to get lost once you move out of the United States,” Deshpande said. “It’s about reestablishing those relationships, creating new ones and also creating stories to tell.”
Whitney said there are many reasons why making connections with entrepreneurs and organizations in India is important.
“First, there’s the sheer size of the market, but of equal importance is the country’s vast technical resources, key advisors with immense industry experience and a very large IU alumni base,” Whitney said. “Strengthening these relationships both from the U.S. to India and also among IU alumni inside India benefits everyone in the ecosystem.”
Whitney also said the technical skills in India are among the best in the world, which means the startup ecosystem is full of interesting opportunities, including an expanding emphasis on machine learning and artificial intelligence.
“The expanded commercial potential for those services in the U.S. market make the U.S. as attractive to India as India is to the U.S. If we can assist in opening some doors for those companies to explore expansion opportunities, we would love to do that,” Whitney said. “The ideal situation would be partnering their technologies with some existing U.S.-based firms to accelerate their traction and create a more attractive commercial product for someone already in the market here.”