Grooming products went out of fashion during lockdown; demand up seen since Unlock 1.0

BENGALURU: Consumers are putting off grooming routines, colouring their hair less often and giving up on deodorant and talcum powder, according to a survey. As more people started working from home due to the Covid-19 pandemic, households consumed 20% less hair colour and talcum powder, while use of deodorants dropped 59% in the June quarter. Depilatories (creams or lotions to remove unwanted hair) fell by 36%, consulting firm Kantar Worldpanel said. “As people stay at home, the need for grooming has declined,” said K Ramakrishnan, South Asia managing director of Kantar Worldpanel. The numbers do not, however, reflect out-of-home consumption. The sales decline for manufacturers of personal care products — especially skincare and hair colour — could be higher as beauty salons were shut due to the nationwide lockdown for most part of the April-June period. Men and women showed divergent consumption trends during the lockdown weeks, companies said. “Men seem to be a little bit more shabby at this time or willing to be shabby but women don’t want to sit around at home not looking sort of good,” said Nisaba Godrej, executive chairperson and managing director of Godrej Consumer Products Ltd, during an analysts’ call last week. Since most personal care products fell under the non-essential category during the initial weeks of the lockdown, companies were forced to shut manufacturing, restricting the supply chain of finished goods. There has however been a gradual improvement in demand for these products since Unlock 1.0. “The ability to reach consumers was limited. Marketplaces were not functioning. This led to decline in sales. Post-lockdown, demand has surged despite blips,” said Sumit Keshan, managing partner of Wipro Consumer Care-Ventures. In the next few months, growth should be back on track with lockdowns out of the way and as the festive season approaches, he added. Sales of Wipro’s own brand Yardley and Ustraa, in which it has invested, have declined by 70-80% since March, Keshan said. Marketers are pinning hopes on the revival of pricier personal care segments to predict the demand outlook going forward. In fact, Hindustan Unilever said during its earnings call last month that underlying demand of discretionary items such as beauty, skincare and hair colour will be a good test to assess recovery in the overall economy. “With no socialising, our make-up category has seen reduced consumption. Skincare was in deep negative in the early phase of the pandemic but is returning to normal now,” said Kavita Angre, director consumer and market insights and media, L’Oreal India. “About 85% of consumers did not change their hair care routine,” Angre added. Consumer goods maker Marico said during its earnings call recently that premium personal care portfolios of hair nourishment, male grooming and skincare recorded sharp declines due to the significant fall in sales of discretionary items. “While some green shoots are there in June, we will lie low and closely monitor these categories to our sharper near-term outlook and strategy,” Saugata Gupta, managing director of Marico told analysts.

BENGALURU: Consumers are putting off grooming routines, colouring their hair less often and giving up on deodorant and talcum powder, according to a survey. As more people started working from home due to the Covid-19 pandemic, households consumed 20% less hair colour and talcum powder, while use of deodorants dropped 59% in the June quarter. Depilatories (creams or lotions to remove unwanted hair) fell by 36%, consulting firm Kantar Worldpanel said. “As people stay at home, the need for grooming has declined,” said K Ramakrishnan, South Asia managing director of Kantar Worldpanel. The numbers do not, however, reflect out-of-home consumption. The sales decline for manufacturers of personal care products — especially skincare and hair colour — could be higher as beauty salons were shut due to the nationwide lockdown for most part of the April-June period. Men and women showed divergent consumption trends during the lockdown weeks, companies said. “Men seem to be a little bit more shabby at this time or willing to be shabby but women don’t want to sit around at home not looking sort of good,” said Nisaba Godrej, executive chairperson and managing director of Godrej Consumer Products Ltd, during an analysts’ call last week. Since most personal care products fell under the non-essential category during the initial weeks of the lockdown, companies were forced to shut manufacturing, restricting the supply chain of finished goods. There has however been a gradual improvement in demand for these products since Unlock 1.0. “The ability to reach consumers was limited. Marketplaces were not functioning. This led to decline in sales. Post-lockdown, demand has surged despite blips,” said Sumit Keshan, managing partner of Wipro Consumer Care-Ventures. In the next few months, growth should be back on track with lockdowns out of the way and as the festive season approaches, he added. Sales of Wipro’s own brand Yardley and Ustraa, in which it has invested, have declined by 70-80% since March, Keshan said. Marketers are pinning hopes on the revival of pricier personal care segments to predict the demand outlook going forward. In fact, Hindustan Unilever said during its earnings call last month that underlying demand of discretionary items such as beauty, skincare and hair colour will be a good test to assess recovery in the overall economy. “With no socialising, our make-up category has seen reduced consumption. Skincare was in deep negative in the early phase of the pandemic but is returning to normal now,” said Kavita Angre, director consumer and market insights and media, L’Oreal India. “About 85% of consumers did not change their hair care routine,” Angre added. Consumer goods maker Marico said during its earnings call recently that premium personal care portfolios of hair nourishment, male grooming and skincare recorded sharp declines due to the significant fall in sales of discretionary items. “While some green shoots are there in June, we will lie low and closely monitor these categories to our sharper near-term outlook and strategy,” Saugata Gupta, managing director of Marico told analysts.

Reopening schools unthinkable for now: Sisodia

Delhi will not reopen its schools any time soon as the state government is not willing to take any risk with the health of children, state education minister and deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia has said. In an interview with Nidhi Sharma, Sisodia also spoke about why Delhi is opposing the University Grants Commission’s stance on examinations in the Supreme Court, and the steps being taken to trace 10-15% of students who have fallen off the radar of Delhi government’s education system during the lockdown. Edited excerpts:On reopening of schools in DelhiWe cannot even think of reopening schools. We cannot take a risk with the health of our children. If we are testing 2,000 people, about 6% are positive. There are 4.4 million students in Delhi (including both private and government schools) and about 800,000 to one million college students. We cannot think about it (reopening of schools and colleges) for a few months.On parameters to work out timing of reopeningI haven’t given it a thought. But not any time soon.On the Centre’s unlock guidelines, allowing reopening of schoolsEven if the Ministry of Home Affairs issues guidelines allowing reopening of schools, Delhi would not reopen. We are even saying, do away with examinations. Promote the children, but don’t take a risk with their lives. They are going back to their homes and there are other family members, too. Learn from what happened in the US within two weeks of reopening of schools. (About 97,000 children tested positive for the novel coronavirus between July 16 and 30, according to media reports.)On private schools charging full fee despite remaining closedWhen lockdown was in force, we told the private schools to only charge tuition fee for two months and parents should not be harassed. If you see our records, we have not allowed any fee hike in the capital over the last five years. But private schools have come to us now and shown us balance sheets. They are unable to run their schools, and pay teaching and nonteaching staff with just tuition fee. We cannot ignore this. At the same time, we have told schools to be flexible and not expect all parents to pay the full amount.On students missing educationEvery week we are collating numbers on how many students are attending online classes and taking physical assignment sheets. As per our estimates, 85% students are attending online classes—not just in Delhi but in Mumbai, Chhattisgarh and wherever their parents have migrated to. But there are 10% we are unable to trace. I am going to districts and trying to reach out. But it is a long process. Apart from this, there is a deficit of 30% of students who were supposed to enrol in our government schools in Class 6 after passing out of Class 5 in municipal schools.On strategy to get students back in the systemWe have suffered a major setback because of Covid-19, be it economic, social or education sector. We are not claiming that there is no damage done. We are now trying to minimise that damage in education. Our teachers and our district teams are trying to go down to colonies and trace children who are not even available on their phone numbers.On Delhi government’s opposition to UGC move to hold examinationsWe are living in extraordinary times. We cannot employ an ordinary system for evaluation of students in such times. This approach is impractical. We are not in favour of examinations. Why can’t you (UGC) have faith in your system and evaluate your students on their performance over the last two-and-a-half years?

Delhi will not reopen its schools any time soon as the state government is not willing to take any risk with the health of children, state education minister and deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia has said. In an interview with Nidhi Sharma, Sisodia also spoke about why Delhi is opposing the University Grants Commission’s stance on examinations in the Supreme Court, and the steps being taken to trace 10-15% of students who have fallen off the radar of Delhi government’s education system during the lockdown. Edited excerpts:On reopening of schools in DelhiWe cannot even think of reopening schools. We cannot take a risk with the health of our children. If we are testing 2,000 people, about 6% are positive. There are 4.4 million students in Delhi (including both private and government schools) and about 800,000 to one million college students. We cannot think about it (reopening of schools and colleges) for a few months.On parameters to work out timing of reopeningI haven’t given it a thought. But not any time soon.On the Centre’s unlock guidelines, allowing reopening of schoolsEven if the Ministry of Home Affairs issues guidelines allowing reopening of schools, Delhi would not reopen. We are even saying, do away with examinations. Promote the children, but don’t take a risk with their lives. They are going back to their homes and there are other family members, too. Learn from what happened in the US within two weeks of reopening of schools. (About 97,000 children tested positive for the novel coronavirus between July 16 and 30, according to media reports.)On private schools charging full fee despite remaining closedWhen lockdown was in force, we told the private schools to only charge tuition fee for two months and parents should not be harassed. If you see our records, we have not allowed any fee hike in the capital over the last five years. But private schools have come to us now and shown us balance sheets. They are unable to run their schools, and pay teaching and nonteaching staff with just tuition fee. We cannot ignore this. At the same time, we have told schools to be flexible and not expect all parents to pay the full amount.On students missing educationEvery week we are collating numbers on how many students are attending online classes and taking physical assignment sheets. As per our estimates, 85% students are attending online classes—not just in Delhi but in Mumbai, Chhattisgarh and wherever their parents have migrated to. But there are 10% we are unable to trace. I am going to districts and trying to reach out. But it is a long process. Apart from this, there is a deficit of 30% of students who were supposed to enrol in our government schools in Class 6 after passing out of Class 5 in municipal schools.On strategy to get students back in the systemWe have suffered a major setback because of Covid-19, be it economic, social or education sector. We are not claiming that there is no damage done. We are now trying to minimise that damage in education. Our teachers and our district teams are trying to go down to colonies and trace children who are not even available on their phone numbers.On Delhi government’s opposition to UGC move to hold examinationsWe are living in extraordinary times. We cannot employ an ordinary system for evaluation of students in such times. This approach is impractical. We are not in favour of examinations. Why can’t you (UGC) have faith in your system and evaluate your students on their performance over the last two-and-a-half years?

‘Can’t let learning losses accumulate’

Vinay Sahasrabuddhe, the newly appointed chairman of the parliamentary standing committee on Human Resource Development, said the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 will lead to de-Macaulay-isation of education in the country. In an interview with Anubhuti Vishnoi, he backed the focus on teaching in the mother tongue and said even foreign universities could tweak their syllabus to suit the Indian ethos when they come in. Edited excerpts:On the NEP and challenges aheadThis is an epoch-making policy as it takes us towards complete de-Macaulay-isation of education. No policy is free from implementation challenges, but this government has shown that it has the political will to implement. People who have vested interest in the status quo may create problems.On political backlash regarding imposition of Hindi and mother tongueHindi-related worries are totally unfounded. The Prime Minister himself, and many in the government, have made it clear that there is no intention of imposing any language on anyone. So far as mother tongue is concerned, what is wrong with that? If we Indians do not insist on strengthening our languages by using them, who else will do it? The French and Germans learn in their own languages. Similarly, we have to facilitate learning in Tamil, Kannada, Marathi or Assamese. In fact, this policy will help us convert our languages into languages of knowledge.On political hurdles to a single higher education regulator & foreign universitiesThose who want to merely play politics will always find a pretext to oppose ideas. There is fundamentally nothing wrong in both these proposals. When foreign universities come, they will also tweak their syllabi to the Indian situation. Our Chanakya-Niti, or Bharata’s Natya Shastra can go places.On rewriting of the curriculum and alleged ‘saffronisation’ of textbooksThis is an old issue, being raked up conveniently by some who believe in manufacturing controversies from nothing, simply to strengthen a vote bank. With leaders of non-BJP parties talking about Ram Path Van Gaman and welcoming reconstruction of Ram temple, I am sure wiser counsel will prevail.On House panel’s stocktaking on Covid-19’s impact on educationThe impact is very serious and more so because of uncertainty about Covid-19 and when it will end. We cannot have complete normalcy on campuses till such a time. State government institutions and parents are all apprehensive and would like to avoid risks. So, people are working through online method. But teaching and learning processes involve coming together under one roof and interacting with each other. Online knowledge dissemination has obvious limitations.On students who don’t have internetThe government is conscious of these issues. The school education department is already engaged in ground survey on the same and is taking the help of All India Radio and community radios to reach out to students. We have also noticed many new experiments in India as well as in other countries. In Andhra Pradesh, they are facilitating interaction through dedicated helplines and the IVRS system. Himachal Pradesh has started a campaign called Har Ghar Pathashala.

Vinay Sahasrabuddhe, the newly appointed chairman of the parliamentary standing committee on Human Resource Development, said the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 will lead to de-Macaulay-isation of education in the country. In an interview with Anubhuti Vishnoi, he backed the focus on teaching in the mother tongue and said even foreign universities could tweak their syllabus to suit the Indian ethos when they come in. Edited excerpts:On the NEP and challenges aheadThis is an epoch-making policy as it takes us towards complete de-Macaulay-isation of education. No policy is free from implementation challenges, but this government has shown that it has the political will to implement. People who have vested interest in the status quo may create problems.On political backlash regarding imposition of Hindi and mother tongueHindi-related worries are totally unfounded. The Prime Minister himself, and many in the government, have made it clear that there is no intention of imposing any language on anyone. So far as mother tongue is concerned, what is wrong with that? If we Indians do not insist on strengthening our languages by using them, who else will do it? The French and Germans learn in their own languages. Similarly, we have to facilitate learning in Tamil, Kannada, Marathi or Assamese. In fact, this policy will help us convert our languages into languages of knowledge.On political hurdles to a single higher education regulator & foreign universitiesThose who want to merely play politics will always find a pretext to oppose ideas. There is fundamentally nothing wrong in both these proposals. When foreign universities come, they will also tweak their syllabi to the Indian situation. Our Chanakya-Niti, or Bharata’s Natya Shastra can go places.On rewriting of the curriculum and alleged ‘saffronisation’ of textbooksThis is an old issue, being raked up conveniently by some who believe in manufacturing controversies from nothing, simply to strengthen a vote bank. With leaders of non-BJP parties talking about Ram Path Van Gaman and welcoming reconstruction of Ram temple, I am sure wiser counsel will prevail.On House panel’s stocktaking on Covid-19’s impact on educationThe impact is very serious and more so because of uncertainty about Covid-19 and when it will end. We cannot have complete normalcy on campuses till such a time. State government institutions and parents are all apprehensive and would like to avoid risks. So, people are working through online method. But teaching and learning processes involve coming together under one roof and interacting with each other. Online knowledge dissemination has obvious limitations.On students who don’t have internetThe government is conscious of these issues. The school education department is already engaged in ground survey on the same and is taking the help of All India Radio and community radios to reach out to students. We have also noticed many new experiments in India as well as in other countries. In Andhra Pradesh, they are facilitating interaction through dedicated helplines and the IVRS system. Himachal Pradesh has started a campaign called Har Ghar Pathashala.

Maha focus on Pawar family soap opera

MUMBAI: Amid the coronavirus pandemic, an unfolding drama at one of the most prominent political families in Maharashtra is attracting much attention.Parth Pawar, the elder son of deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar, is at the centre of the latest of a se…

MUMBAI: Amid the coronavirus pandemic, an unfolding drama at one of the most prominent political families in Maharashtra is attracting much attention.Parth Pawar, the elder son of deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar, is at the centre of the latest of a series of developments indicating an increasing rift between Ajit and his uncle, family patriarch and Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar. While Ajit has not said anything openly after Sharad Pawar's public outburst against Parth this week, he is said to be upset over the incident.Parth's recent actions have embarrassed the NCP, which is sharing power in the state with the Shiv Sena and Congress. He gave a memorandum to home minister Anil Deshmukh demanding a CBI probe into the suicide of actor Sushant Singh Rajput. His move suggested he had no confidence in the police force working under a minister of his own party. He has also put the party in a spot of bother by hailing the ground-breaking ceremony of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya.Sharad Pawar on Wednesday called his grandnephew "immature" and said: "We would not even spare a penny for what he is saying." This was notable because Pawar seldom loses his cool and that too on a family member. For years, the Pawars have been keeping up a united front - during Diwali, the entire Pawar clan assembles at the family home in Baramati. While the family is trying to portray that all is well, the outburst against Parth shows the growing cracks within.The Ajit camp has been wary that the rest of the family has been trying to cut him down to size. Those loyal to Pawar Sr claim that this has happened because of Ajit's style of functioning, which they termed "my way or the highway".In 2009, Ajit wanted to become the deputy chief minister but the NCP chief chose Chaggan Bhujbal over him. He got a chance to become the deputy CM in 2010. Here too Sharad Pawar was not keen on giving him the post, but had to climb down after a majority of the NCP MLAs supported Ajit's bid. Matters came to a head in 2012 when Ajit resigned from the Prithviraj Chavan government. Those in NCP said he was angry with his uncle for not putting pressure on the Congress to rein in Chavan, who had raked up the irrigation scam issue. Ajit showed his strength by having several of the NCP ministers resign too, despite Pawar Sr asking them not to.The entry of Rohit Pawar, another grandnephew of Sharad Pawar, to the political fray and his plan to contest last year's assembly elections from the Karjat Jamkhed constituency - he later won it - was seen by the Ajit camp as an effort to loosen his grip on the party. Ajit decided to launch his son from the Maval Lok Sabha constituency. Parth though lost the election.According to those close to Parth, he believes he did not get as much help as he should have during the polls from the party and the family. There are now talks that he may take a "big step" in the next few days, though efforts are on to cool down the situation.

Expert group, vaccine makers to discuss timelines and more

New Delhi: An expert group under Niti Aayog member VK Paul will hold a meeting with top representatives of companies working on Covid-19 vaccines on Monday to assess India’s manufacturing capacity and the scale required to produce and rollout the vaccine for the country and other low- and middle-income nations.At the virtual meeting to be held on August 17, top executives from Serum Institute of India, Bharat Biotech, Zydus Cadila, Biological E and Gennova Biopharmaceuticals are expected to discuss the timelines and production capacity needed to make Covid-19 vaccines available at the earliest, people aware of the matter told ET.Three Covid-19 vaccine candidates are in various phases of clinical trials in India. Covaxin by Bharat Biotech and the DNA vaccine of Zydus Cadila are completing phase 1 trials, while the Astra Zeneca- Oxford University vaccine being manufactured by Serum Institute of India will begin phase 2 trials next week.“The vaccine has to be used on a large scale and hence several steps are needed to be completed before the vaccine is introduced. Mapping of vaccine development activities will help us prepare better for vaccine deployment plans,” an official said.The government had set up two committees to review the development and other aspects of vaccine procurement and administration.The expert committee, which held its first meeting this week, has advised states not to procure Covid-19 vaccines on their own. The committee noted that India has a significant domestic production capacity, which could also help to meet the requirements of other countries. “India is assuming a leadership position and given the capacities that India has, that position should be leveraged for other middle- and low-income countries, too,” the official said earlier this week.77552063Unlike Western countries, India hasn’t invested in securing vaccines in advance. The government is confident it can manage with its indigenous production capacity and the mechanism hosted by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.“It’s a dynamic situation. We are hopeful to manage with our indigenous manufacturers and the Gavi alliance. Things can change as discussions are on,” the official said.The Gavi facility will buy vaccines approved by regulatory agencies and/or prequalified by the WHO and will initially provide doses for 20% of the population in 92 low- and middle-income countries.

New Delhi: An expert group under Niti Aayog member VK Paul will hold a meeting with top representatives of companies working on Covid-19 vaccines on Monday to assess India’s manufacturing capacity and the scale required to produce and rollout the vaccine for the country and other low- and middle-income nations.At the virtual meeting to be held on August 17, top executives from Serum Institute of India, Bharat Biotech, Zydus Cadila, Biological E and Gennova Biopharmaceuticals are expected to discuss the timelines and production capacity needed to make Covid-19 vaccines available at the earliest, people aware of the matter told ET.Three Covid-19 vaccine candidates are in various phases of clinical trials in India. Covaxin by Bharat Biotech and the DNA vaccine of Zydus Cadila are completing phase 1 trials, while the Astra Zeneca- Oxford University vaccine being manufactured by Serum Institute of India will begin phase 2 trials next week.“The vaccine has to be used on a large scale and hence several steps are needed to be completed before the vaccine is introduced. Mapping of vaccine development activities will help us prepare better for vaccine deployment plans,” an official said.The government had set up two committees to review the development and other aspects of vaccine procurement and administration.The expert committee, which held its first meeting this week, has advised states not to procure Covid-19 vaccines on their own. The committee noted that India has a significant domestic production capacity, which could also help to meet the requirements of other countries. “India is assuming a leadership position and given the capacities that India has, that position should be leveraged for other middle- and low-income countries, too,” the official said earlier this week.77552063Unlike Western countries, India hasn’t invested in securing vaccines in advance. The government is confident it can manage with its indigenous production capacity and the mechanism hosted by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.“It’s a dynamic situation. We are hopeful to manage with our indigenous manufacturers and the Gavi alliance. Things can change as discussions are on,” the official said.The Gavi facility will buy vaccines approved by regulatory agencies and/or prequalified by the WHO and will initially provide doses for 20% of the population in 92 low- and middle-income countries.

New VC fund Lumikai to seed Indian gaming

MUMBAI: When a former Morgan Stanley investment banker, who had early on in her career helped GDF Suez in a 7.8 billion pound acquisition, met a former Google hackathon winner last November in Hyderabad on the side lines of a gaming conference, both realised “2 plus 2 equals 5 when it comes to their common passion: gaming.”Eight months later, that unique equation is bearing fruit – A brand new venture fund Lumikai, the brainchild of Salone Sehgal and Justin Shriram Keeling, has had their first close – as a lighthouse vehicle to back early stage, homegrown gaming studios and entreprenuers. “As India’s first dedicated long-term capital for interactive entertainment and strategic partner for the gaming ecosystem, Lumikai’s vision is to help enable ambitious founders and drive innovation worldwide,” said Keeling, the fund’s General Partner from Tokyo, where he is currently stuck due to the pandemic. “With the 4G data explosion on the back of Reliance Jio and now Covid, digital entertainment consumption has gone through the roof, especially gaming, coupled with frictionless payment, Indian gaming scene is at an inflection point.”Several statistics buttress that argument. Last year, with 5 billion downloads, India overtook US in the rankings indicating that the 300 million gamers fraternity, in a nation of 450 million smart phone users, are guzzling games, downloading them on mobiles, laptops or any other smart device. Game play – an indication of user engagement – has also gone up by over 25%.Currently valued at $885 million, as per KPMG, the Indian gaming industry is expected to grow at 41.6 % (FY20-21) on the back of this spurt in digital infrastructure, quality and engaging gaming content.From a handful, there are now over 400 developers/founders, mostly 1st generation, some of whom like Ludo King or Nuke Box’s Krusty Cook Off have even broken records in app stores world-wide with their offerings. “Never before has usage, adoption, technology and monetisation converged this way in India,” adds Salone Sehgal, also a general partner (GP) of the fund. “Traditionally, global finance eschewed the games industry viewing it as a hit driven business. In India too, games creators have been underfinanced. However, we deeply believe in the portfolio approach of building early winners across genres to deliver outsized returns.” Even though the duo are hesitant to furnish granular details of the size of their 10 year old fund or the identity of their investors, back of the envelope calculations suggest it will be between $30-$40 million following a “seed fund strategy (Series A bets)”, enough to cut up to 20 cheques between $200,000 to $2 million to bankroll and handhold ventures to emerge “category leaders.” Gaming companies from countries as diverse as Japan to Finland, South Korea and US, some who had entered but exited soon after, have signed up as investors (Limited Partners) enabling them to build a sustainable eco-system and leverage a global pool of talent, technology, trends, access and partners. The strategic LP base will help portfolio companies break out and even in future consolidation M&As, a popular route of exit for most funds. Over the years, both Salone and Keeling have been deeply immersed in the space either as investors themselves or as creators of IPs. “I realised if I wanted a female protagonist in a video game I have to build it myself,” quipped Sehgal. “Soon I figured, I have to finance it myself as well.”Keeling too has helped sell two local gaming start ups – PlaySona and UTV Games – to bigger, global media giants like Disney. In Comcast, where he spent early years of his professional career he helped build G4 Media — a dedicated gaming TV network that was eventually sold to Esquire Network. A stint in News Corporation’s digital media group Fox Interactive Media followed where he was instrumental in building and managing global brands including RottenTomatoes, and GameSpy Technologies.“The word Lumikai combines the Latin word for light (Lumi) with the Japanese word for tribe (Kai),” explains Keeling. “We are seeing a new tribe of founders spring up in India who either have grown up with a smartphone and are far more adept to global trends or have been product managers, designers or gamers themselves and have global aspirations.”What further helps in the thesis is the fact that Indians have started paying up for content. Compared to last year, there has been a 50% growth in local paying users, so far this year. Revenues from India of global titles have also jumped one and half times.From social games like Ludo to vernacular content to platform plays and even real money games, the opportunity is therefore growing. But equally a hotbed for regulatory and judicial interventions.Leading fantasy gaming platform Dream 11, has had to face scrutiny over its status as a game of skill as opposed to a game of chance. A division bench of the Supreme Court recently dismissed goods and services tax evasion and gambling appeals filed against Dream11, upholding a previous ruling by the Bombay High Court. With clarity on the matter, while investor interest in the Unicorn has leapfrogged, some remain circumspect over the future prospects. Even today, the app is not available on Android play stores. “There is a degree of greyness especially when it comes to real money games,” concedes Keeling “but even in our portfolio approach we will veer more towards skill-based games.”

MUMBAI: When a former Morgan Stanley investment banker, who had early on in her career helped GDF Suez in a 7.8 billion pound acquisition, met a former Google hackathon winner last November in Hyderabad on the side lines of a gaming conference, both realised “2 plus 2 equals 5 when it comes to their common passion: gaming.”Eight months later, that unique equation is bearing fruit - A brand new venture fund Lumikai, the brainchild of Salone Sehgal and Justin Shriram Keeling, has had their first close - as a lighthouse vehicle to back early stage, homegrown gaming studios and entreprenuers. “As India’s first dedicated long-term capital for interactive entertainment and strategic partner for the gaming ecosystem, Lumikai’s vision is to help enable ambitious founders and drive innovation worldwide,” said Keeling, the fund’s General Partner from Tokyo, where he is currently stuck due to the pandemic. “With the 4G data explosion on the back of Reliance Jio and now Covid, digital entertainment consumption has gone through the roof, especially gaming, coupled with frictionless payment, Indian gaming scene is at an inflection point.”Several statistics buttress that argument. Last year, with 5 billion downloads, India overtook US in the rankings indicating that the 300 million gamers fraternity, in a nation of 450 million smart phone users, are guzzling games, downloading them on mobiles, laptops or any other smart device. Game play – an indication of user engagement – has also gone up by over 25%.Currently valued at $885 million, as per KPMG, the Indian gaming industry is expected to grow at 41.6 % (FY20-21) on the back of this spurt in digital infrastructure, quality and engaging gaming content.From a handful, there are now over 400 developers/founders, mostly 1st generation, some of whom like Ludo King or Nuke Box’s Krusty Cook Off have even broken records in app stores world-wide with their offerings. “Never before has usage, adoption, technology and monetisation converged this way in India,” adds Salone Sehgal, also a general partner (GP) of the fund. “Traditionally, global finance eschewed the games industry viewing it as a hit driven business. In India too, games creators have been underfinanced. However, we deeply believe in the portfolio approach of building early winners across genres to deliver outsized returns.” Even though the duo are hesitant to furnish granular details of the size of their 10 year old fund or the identity of their investors, back of the envelope calculations suggest it will be between $30-$40 million following a “seed fund strategy (Series A bets)”, enough to cut up to 20 cheques between $200,000 to $2 million to bankroll and handhold ventures to emerge “category leaders.” Gaming companies from countries as diverse as Japan to Finland, South Korea and US, some who had entered but exited soon after, have signed up as investors (Limited Partners) enabling them to build a sustainable eco-system and leverage a global pool of talent, technology, trends, access and partners. The strategic LP base will help portfolio companies break out and even in future consolidation M&As, a popular route of exit for most funds. Over the years, both Salone and Keeling have been deeply immersed in the space either as investors themselves or as creators of IPs. “I realised if I wanted a female protagonist in a video game I have to build it myself,” quipped Sehgal. “Soon I figured, I have to finance it myself as well.”Keeling too has helped sell two local gaming start ups – PlaySona and UTV Games – to bigger, global media giants like Disney. In Comcast, where he spent early years of his professional career he helped build G4 Media — a dedicated gaming TV network that was eventually sold to Esquire Network. A stint in News Corporation’s digital media group Fox Interactive Media followed where he was instrumental in building and managing global brands including RottenTomatoes, and GameSpy Technologies.“The word Lumikai combines the Latin word for light (Lumi) with the Japanese word for tribe (Kai),” explains Keeling. “We are seeing a new tribe of founders spring up in India who either have grown up with a smartphone and are far more adept to global trends or have been product managers, designers or gamers themselves and have global aspirations.”What further helps in the thesis is the fact that Indians have started paying up for content. Compared to last year, there has been a 50% growth in local paying users, so far this year. Revenues from India of global titles have also jumped one and half times.From social games like Ludo to vernacular content to platform plays and even real money games, the opportunity is therefore growing. But equally a hotbed for regulatory and judicial interventions.Leading fantasy gaming platform Dream 11, has had to face scrutiny over its status as a game of skill as opposed to a game of chance. A division bench of the Supreme Court recently dismissed goods and services tax evasion and gambling appeals filed against Dream11, upholding a previous ruling by the Bombay High Court. With clarity on the matter, while investor interest in the Unicorn has leapfrogged, some remain circumspect over the future prospects. Even today, the app is not available on Android play stores. “There is a degree of greyness especially when it comes to real money games,” concedes Keeling “but even in our portfolio approach we will veer more towards skill-based games.”

HCL and Headstrong veteran Arjun Malhotra joins Accolite board as Chairman

MUMBAI: Dallas headquartered IT services company Accolite has announced the appointment of HCL Co-founder and ex-CEO of Headstrong, Arjun Malhotra as Chairman to its Advisory Board.Chief Executive Officer of Accolite, Leela Kaza said that Malhotra has been roped in to help scale up the company’s operations and transform into a $500 million enterprise. Founded in 2007, Accolite is a bootstrapped IT services firm and specialises in the BFSI services space. The company’s other verticals include healthcare, telecommunication, logistics and it also provides product engineering solutions.“BFSI continues to be our corner stone of growth and our aspiration is to generate $100 million in annual revenue in the vertical by 2023. Malhotra’s rich expertise, strategic insights and network across the board will immensely benefit Accolite, not only in terms of scaling up but also in attracting top notch talent which is critical to our future vision,” said Kaza.Accolite currently generates about $23 million in revenue from its BFSI vertical. Kaza said that the company’s overall revenue stands a little over $60 million in the current financial year at a CAGR of 25%.The company has not diluted stake since its origin and plans to create a $100 million revenue base in all verticals. “The vision is to create a billion dollars in value for our clients in the next three to five years. Since we have never diluted (stake) nor have we had a board, we have taken a lot of time to think about who will help us in this transformation from a sub $100 million company to the next milestone of $300-500 million,” according to Kaza.On his appointment to the board, Arjun Malhotra said, “They (Accolite) have done a very interesting job till now, they have marquee customers and have built a good organisation. My objective is how I can create more jobs in India, so I thought here is an opportunity to help a company that is at a somewhat unique (stage) to grow to that size and to meet my own objectives.”In 1975 Malhotra had co-founded and grew the HCL group from a six-person “garage operation” to one of India’s largest IT corporations. He later served as the Chairman and CEO of financial services firm Headstrong before its acquisition by Genpact in 2011. Prior to Headstrong he was CEO and Chairman of TechSpan, which merged with Headstrong in 2003.Malhotra said that the rapidly changing technology infrastructure in the BFSI space is creating a lot of opportunities for the growth of technology firms like Accolite. The company is able to differentiate itself from large scale IT providers, he added.“A lot of the banks are working on mainframe and some technology from earlier eras. You have to adapt them to today’s world….The technology needs to be scalable, you have to have microarchitecture. Most companies are scrambling to do it, they are training their people. Accolite is in a good place because the installed base is not too large. Its very much like how India got ahead in the mobile telephony revolution because it didn’t have a whole installed base of landlines and we didn’t have to worry about that investment going sour very quickly. I think Accolite is in that position right now.”The company employs 1300 people across India and the US.

MUMBAI: Dallas headquartered IT services company Accolite has announced the appointment of HCL Co-founder and ex-CEO of Headstrong, Arjun Malhotra as Chairman to its Advisory Board.Chief Executive Officer of Accolite, Leela Kaza said that Malhotra has been roped in to help scale up the company’s operations and transform into a $500 million enterprise. Founded in 2007, Accolite is a bootstrapped IT services firm and specialises in the BFSI services space. The company’s other verticals include healthcare, telecommunication, logistics and it also provides product engineering solutions.“BFSI continues to be our corner stone of growth and our aspiration is to generate $100 million in annual revenue in the vertical by 2023. Malhotra’s rich expertise, strategic insights and network across the board will immensely benefit Accolite, not only in terms of scaling up but also in attracting top notch talent which is critical to our future vision,” said Kaza.Accolite currently generates about $23 million in revenue from its BFSI vertical. Kaza said that the company’s overall revenue stands a little over $60 million in the current financial year at a CAGR of 25%.The company has not diluted stake since its origin and plans to create a $100 million revenue base in all verticals. “The vision is to create a billion dollars in value for our clients in the next three to five years. Since we have never diluted (stake) nor have we had a board, we have taken a lot of time to think about who will help us in this transformation from a sub $100 million company to the next milestone of $300-500 million,” according to Kaza.On his appointment to the board, Arjun Malhotra said, “They (Accolite) have done a very interesting job till now, they have marquee customers and have built a good organisation. My objective is how I can create more jobs in India, so I thought here is an opportunity to help a company that is at a somewhat unique (stage) to grow to that size and to meet my own objectives.”In 1975 Malhotra had co-founded and grew the HCL group from a six-person “garage operation” to one of India’s largest IT corporations. He later served as the Chairman and CEO of financial services firm Headstrong before its acquisition by Genpact in 2011. Prior to Headstrong he was CEO and Chairman of TechSpan, which merged with Headstrong in 2003.Malhotra said that the rapidly changing technology infrastructure in the BFSI space is creating a lot of opportunities for the growth of technology firms like Accolite. The company is able to differentiate itself from large scale IT providers, he added.“A lot of the banks are working on mainframe and some technology from earlier eras. You have to adapt them to today’s world….The technology needs to be scalable, you have to have microarchitecture. Most companies are scrambling to do it, they are training their people. Accolite is in a good place because the installed base is not too large. Its very much like how India got ahead in the mobile telephony revolution because it didn’t have a whole installed base of landlines and we didn’t have to worry about that investment going sour very quickly. I think Accolite is in that position right now.”The company employs 1300 people across India and the US.