The founder of the first consumer internet company to be listed in the country, Murugavel Janakiraman has come a long way since he started BharatMatrimony as a community site in the US, 20 years ago. “Till recently, my largest investment was my company and that has paid off rather decently,” says Janakiraman with a laugh.
The company, which raised 500 crore through its recent IPO, is into matchmaking and wedding services. Apart from his initial investment in the company, Janakiraman points out that until now he has been drawing a salary just like any other professional CEO, which didn’t leave him with a huge surplus. Whatever personal investments he has made thus far is primarily concentrated in two asset classes — angel investing (alternatives) and real estate. Janakiraman has made over 40 investments in startups as an angel investor through Chennai Angels and Global Super Angels Forum, where he is a part of a consortium of investors. Besides some individual investments, angel investing for Janakiraman is more about actively engaging with the startup ecosystem and share his learnings rather than see it as a profit-making avenue. Having said that, Janakiraman's investment scorecard reads better than some of the leading VCs. His exits thus far include Little Eye Labs, Purplle and Flintobox, which have yielded around 5x return. “Unlike most angel investors, I am happy to exit when a venture capitalist wants to invest and I get a decent return,” says Janakiraman. Knowing when to exit plays probably plays a greater role than knowing when to invest when it comes to successful investing.
Real estate forms another chunk of his investment which includes some land, office space and his residence. The IPO not only gave his investors a good exit but also yielded some investible surplus for Janakiraman, whose 2% equity dilution fetched him 40 crore. Janakiraman is now relying on professional wealth managers to help him deploy the funds across mutual funds and deposits. “I burnt my hands investing directly in equities during the dotcom boom and bust. I have since then stayed away from the market,” he says with a smile.
For Janakiraman, rather than being a great investor, creating a legacy and getting his company to achieve a billion dollar revenue is what drives him today. “Making money has always been secondary,” he quips.