Bullish investors back Team Indus moon shot

Three big stock market players pick up stake in Rs. 450 crore private spacecraft venture

November 26, 2016 04:12 am | Updated 04:12 am IST - BENGALURU:

Three major investors in the stock market - Rakesh Jhunjhunwla, Ashish Kacholia and R.K.Damani - have picked up a stake in Team Indus, the start-up that plans to send India’s first privately-funded spacecraft to the moon next year.

The three separately sealed their investments in recent weeks, said Rahul Narayan, co-founder and head of the Bengaluru-based company.

Details of the individual stakes or infused amounts were not available.

Team Indus is about to raise its second round of financing, Mr. Narayan told The Hindu , adding, “The overall mission will cost us $ 75 million or around Rs. 450 crore.”

The start-up is the only Indian aspirant and among the four from across the world that plan to send spacecraft to soft-land on the moon before December 2017, deploying a rover and sending lunar pictures.

Last year, it won a $1 million milestone prize from Google Lunar X Prize for completing the viable concept of its moon lander. The final prize amount stands at $ 30 million (about Rs. 200 crore at current exchange rates).

Infosys co-founder Nandan Nilekani, the angel backer, came on board two years ago and is now the single largest investor in the company that was started in 2012.

Second funding round

Mr. Narayan, who promoted the company along with a few associates, said, “We raised one round [$ 35 million in finance] in 2014. The second one is in progress now and we will also be equity financing from multiple investors. We expect to close it very soon.”

The company is poised to start building its 600-kg-plus moon lander. It plans to launch it on a hired PSLV rocket of the Indian Space Research Organisation. Not being an Earth-bound mission, the special launch could cost several hundred crores of rupees - a fee not usually disclosed.

Team Indus has attracted 75 investors or sponsors, among them Rajiv Mody, CMD of Sasken Communication Technologies; Subrata Mitra and Shekhar Kirani of Accel Partners; and Sharad Sharma of iSPIRT.

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