It's all about jaw-dropping valuations: Yuvraj Singh begins new innings as a VC

Move over corporate stalwarts Azim Premji and Ratan Tata. The latest person to take interest in IT- startups is World Cup winning cricket star Yuvraj Singh.

So if you have a brilliant idea for an online start-up,you can now get Singh to back you with all the he has — his brand, marketing, technology and yes, even money.

"Yuvraj will endorse your business idea and give you the kick-start you need," says the cricketer's new venture fund that aims to support entrepreneurs by investing in startups across sectors.

Bitten by the e-commerce bug, Yuvraj has launched a start-up fund — YouWeCan Ventures, which plans on investing Rs 40-50 crore in online start-ups in the healthcare, travel, hospitality, real estate and media sectors over the next three-five years.

The basic idea is this: The fund will work as an angel investor by providing the initial seed fund to kick-start an idea and once there is proof of the concept, it will help connect you to other investors as well.

 Its all about jaw-dropping valuations: Yuvraj Singh begins new innings as a VC

YouWeCan Ventures

"I'm getting a bit mature in my old age, just want to start up a few business opportunities. The online world is quite big and want to invest in some future ventures, some business opportunities and helping young guns, entrepreneur s to expand the business and make India a better place," Singh told CNBC-TV18.

But why invest in e-commerce rather than raise capital to invest in cricket and sports infrastructure? Because the cricket star believes sports infrastructure industry is already doing well.

"I am not just saying e-commerce, whatever opportunities we get, but e-commerce is the way to go. The way the online business is improving and going, the valuations you get on the online platform...so it is a great opportunity to invest and to see new start-ups," he told CNBC-TV18.

Snapdeal, Flipkart, Olacabs and Quikr are a few names in this e-commerce sector that have entered the billion-dollar club in just a few years of their founding. Estimates say that the e-commerce market of India will reach $ 24 billion by this year. However, while  private equity players are willing to bet big on e-tailers, smart investors continue to shy away from them because these billion dollar valuations are just not justified. For instance, the likes of Flipkart are solely surviving on private equity money. None of them are profitable and nowhere close to being profitable in the near future. The cash-burn model sure does raise valuations and gross merchandise valuations and it seems Yuvraj too is targeting this promise of future profits based on sales.

Singh's investment firm will be run by a six-member team including chartered accountants, technology experts and management consultants and will provide an initial seed fund of Rs 10-25 lakh per transaction to young entrepreneurs. According to Yuvraj, his friends and associates have also committed to YouWeCan Ventures to make investments in the range of Rs.250-300 crore over the next 3-5 years.

"The plans include setting up a chain of restaurants under the brand YouWeX. The format of the restaurant is yet to be finalised, Nishant Singhal, co-promoter of the fund and former consultant at Pricewaterhouse-Coopers, told Economic Times.

YouWeCan Ventures is expected to announce its first investment by June, right after the IPL season ends and where Singh will be representing the Delhi Daredevils. Even though Singh, the 2011 World Cup's ‘Man of the Tournament’ did not make it to the World Cup squad this year, he did emerge as the most expensive player and was sold at Rs 16 crore in the IPL 8 auctions. He has been associated with global brands like Puma, Reebok, Hero Motors, Oakleys, Ulysse Nardin etc. and has over 3 million followers on Twitter alone.

However, this isn't the first tryst of an Indian cricketer with entrepreneurship. Many of them have had a history with restaurants, even though they may not have all been too successful.

For instance, Sachin Tendulkar partnered with famous hotelier Sanjay Narang of Mars Group and began his restaurant named Tendulkar’s, which eventually shut down. Even Sourav Ganguly began his four storey restaurants Sourav’s in Kolkata only to shut it down in 2011. Cricketer Virendra Sehwag also dabbed his hands with the restaurant business with Sehwag Favourite in Delhi, which also shut down. Sehwag has now forayed into the education sector with the Sehwag International School.

In 2012, , Anil Kumble resigned from being the Chief of National Cricket Academy because of his venture TENVIC, an academy that mentors sports talents through schools across the country started in 2010. Mahendra Singh Dhoni has ventured into the business of fitness along with his business manager Arun Pandey. Dhoni also has investments in several other sports-related businesses while Robin Uthappa has part-funded a startup, a Bengaluru-based tiffin service.

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Updated Date: Apr 07, 2015 12:49:19 IST