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Cisco Systems at work on second India tech fund

Network equipment maker Cisco Systems, which is upwardly revising its India business target of $2 billion on the back of government’s massive digitalisation initiatives and increasingly looking to invest in Indian tech startups, is preparing to invest in second India technology fund soon.

This comes weeks after the American multinational tech giant investing undisclosed amounts into its first India technology fund Stellaris Venture Partners, Cisco India & Saarc president Sameer Garde told ET.

Cisco India, which is few months away from achieving its $2 billion India business target, is also aggressively looking at more collaborations and investments in and acquisitions of technology startups.

The company, which had earmarked $280 million of corpus towards investments in Indian startups, has so far invested in over 25 startups directly or indirectly and made its second India acquisition in December — Cmpute.io — two years after its acquisition of Pawaa in October 2015. "We have also started looking at not only direct investments in startups, but we are also working with VCs," said Garde. "We have invested in Stellaris Venture Partners (in January) and we are in the process of investing in another one."

"We can offer multiple avenues to startups like engineering support, customer access and business strategy inputs. If they have a very strong alignment with some of the areas with technology point of view or from a customer support segment that they are targeting, then we even look at investing in them and getting them on board, like we have done with couple of startups in India," said Garde.

According to him, while Stellaris is making B2B investments in companies working on India-specific solutions, Cisco’s new technology fund will focus on B2B SaaS and other areas like security, collaboration and SDN.

Claiming that Cisco has a “solution-plus partner” model, Garde said that the company would first be investing in tech startups. Solutions developed by these companies might also be integrated into Cisco’s offerings. Finally, the tech giant could even acquire the firms and market their solutions as a Cisco product.