Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal, the duo who founded one of the biggest Indian e-commerce startup — Flipkart, are betting big on moonshot ideas, backing early-stage startups in healthcare and otherwise struggling to raise money from traditional investors.
Recently, both of them backed Pandorum Technologies, a startup which has found a way to 3D print experimental-stage human liver tissues in a laboratory.
As per Binny Bansal’s description, Pandorum is something “out of science fiction” movies. The company was founded in the year 2011 by Arun Chandru and Tuhin Bhowmick. Pandorum designs and manufactures functional human tissues intended for medical research.
Last year, the team engineered an artificial tissue that mimics the functions of the human liver, the first by an Indian entity. Bansals invested an undisclosed sum in the company earlier this year. Until now, it has been dependent on grants from the government funding agency Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council.
As per the report from ET, they are also finalizing another investment in a startup that makes implants. If that deal materializes, it will mark their fourth investment into a healthcare startup.
Till now, they both — Sachin and Binny, have invested in around two dozen or so companies. Out of their portfolio, one fourth of those companies are working on similar deep technology ideas. This makes them rare investors, who are not averse to taking risky bets and wanting to back innovations that can spur truly disruptive innovation.
Commenting on this, Binny Bansal said:
In India, core sectors like healthcare, education and supply chain will be disrupted (by emerging) technology… Those (startups) don’t get funding easily while consumer internet companies do.
As per Tracxn, about 30 early-stage fund-raising deals have been struck by healthcare startups since 2014, but half of them were in the form of government grants. On the other hand, in the same period, 1,166 consumer Internet startups managed to raise seed and angel funds.
Some of the personal investments by the Bansals have been made purely on the basis of a startup’s potential. Earlier, they invested in Ather Energy, which recently raised Rs. 205 crore from Honda MotoCorp. Tarun Mehta met Sachin Bansal in 2014 to ask if he would put in $500,000 of the $1 million the company was seeking to raise.