Sandeep Murthy | Founder of Lightbox

Introduction

Success leaves clues.

Finance Strategists sat down with Sandeep Murthy, founder of Lightbox. He shared his thoughts on the past, present, and future of the company, as well as the insight he gained from running the business.

Who is Sandeep Murthy?

Q: Who are you and what’s your background?

As an early investor in InMobi and InfoEdge, two of India’s billion dollar technology companies, I’ve seen the highs and lows play out as an investor and also roughed it out in operational roles including one as the CEO of Cleartrip in 2006 for three years.

I don’t believe in choosing between “this or that” and graduated in both business and engineering from the University of Pennsylvania. Like all good Penn grads, I dove into investment banking. However, since it was the height of the dot.com boom, I did it a little differently by moving out to Palo Alto, California to join CSFB Technology Group. It’s been a joy ride of investing since then. I’m currently a partner at Lightbox which was founded in 2014.

Q: Who has been your biggest influence, and why did they have such a significant effect on you?

Someone that has inspired me both personally and professionally is the chairperson of the Mahindra Group – Mr. Anand Mahindra. Always at the cusp of the next big thing in tech, he’s built an organisation that’s touching lives at scale.

Q: Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give your younger self?

Timing is everything.
I teamed up with a friend to build a digital music company that was incubated by Sony Music and ended up selling the company to Sony after the Internet bubble burst.

Business

Q: What is Lightbox?

Lightbox is an early-stage venture fund based out of Mumbai that invests in tech companies at the Series A – Series C stage in sectors across consumer brands. We run a concentrated portfolio and invest anywhere from $3MM to $20MM first cheque into the company. Some of our portfolio companies are Rebel Foods, Melorra, Furlenco, Waycool, Bombay Shirt Company, and Dunzo

Q: What makes Lightbox different from its competitors?

We run a concentrated portfolio which means we work closely with our portfolio ceos and build with them, instead of betting on them. This not only gives us an opportunity to learn about different consumption models across sectors, but also use those shared learnings across our portfolios. Our investments are sustainable businesses built on solid foundations and we’ve taken a unique approach to conscious consumption by voluntarily mandating esg diligence across our portfolio companies.

Q: What led you to start Lightbox?

The opportunity in India is massive and there’s potential for technology to disrupt the Indian market. I started Lightbox with my co-partners, Sid Talwar, Prashant Mehta and Jeremy Wenokur to build companies that change the way India consumes leveraging technology and brand

Q: What has the experience of building the business taught you?

try – fail – learn – repeat.

Q: Where do you see things headed for you and the company in the next 5 years?

The party is just getting started in India and I’m optimistic about the potential. With a population of 1.3 billion, 67% of which are working age and contributing 60% to our GDP. India presents several long-standing challenges that serve as low-hanging fruit for tech-enabled businesses to capture. We’ve invested in quite a few game changing businesses over the past 12 years. You can check them out here: https://lightbox.vc/portfolio and I’m excited about closing our next fund to continue investing in such category changing businesses. Venture capital is a long term game, so a lot can happen in 5 years, but I’m looking forward to building building tech enabled consumer models focused on creating value.

For more information please visit: lightbox.vc