How VCs Drive Change

Why I wanted to join a team of game-changers

Let me start by introducing myself — I am Obaid from Calcutta, and I’m a recent addition to Artha Venture Fund’s (AVF) Investment Team!

When I got the opportunity to join on as an Investment Analyst, I was ecstatic. In my head, this was the role that I had been passionate about and quite possibly made for. I vividly remember the early thoughts which made inroads in my mind for targeting the venture capital industry. It sprung in my final year of school when I quite religiously followed the TV show “Silicon Valley.”

In the show, Richard Hendricks is this quintessential brilliant, eccentric founder trying to build a company based on his compression technology while navigating around venture capitalists, lawyers, billionaire angels, competitors, and employees. Although ground-breaking, his product Pied Piper struggled to attract funding at various points, which turned out to be a massive roadblock for him. His failed attempts after knocking at the doors of prestigious VCs in Silicon Valley made me realize the importance of Venture Capitalists and how crucial a role, they play in fueling innovation. The feeling of not giving up on an opportunity was what awed me.

Through some hard work in my early professional career and a bit of fortune, I was able to get my foot into the door of one of the leading MicroVC’s in the country. I firmly believe fortune is a product of perseverance and not a matter of chance. It is the sole quality that will decide whether you’re leading the frontline on a Champions League final or warming the bench in a Sunday league game!

Venture capital is associated with some of the most high-growth and influential firms in the world. For example, among publicly traded firms worldwide, 7 of the top 8 firms by market capitalization in May 2020 had been backed by venture capital before their IPOs: Alphabet, Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Microsoft in the United States, and Alibaba and Tencent in China. More generally, although firms backed by venture capital comprise less than 0.5% of firms that are born each year, they represent nearly half of entrepreneurial companies that graduate to the public marketplace, which in my view, is a staggering number.

A large part of the role of venture capital is to fuel innovation and mass adoption. It’s a combination of “0 to 1” and “1 to n” where we play a part in customizing the product in hand and making it accessible to the right markets for mass scale usage. This fuel comes in the form of capital, structure, access, and expertise. Each of these factors plays a critically important role in aiding start-ups and entrepreneurs — the expertise is just as significant as the capital that a VC can provide.

At Artha, we work with different sets of founders and help them run their businesses more efficiently to achieve scale faster. Since we’re sector agnostic, I work with a wide range of companies from P2P lending, Food-Tech, Mobility-Tech, Discovery Platform for Children, Sports Media, and even Space-Tech!

As a MicroVC, we work very closely with our portfolio companies and get on calls with them weekly/bi-weekly. We analyse their performance, suggest methods for improving any aspect of the business, and connect them to executives/companies within our network to strike partnerships that can help drive revenues, optimize costs and achieve sound unit economics. We provide these solutions with a single goal in mind: To help our founders implement their vision for change and innovation.

People choose to work at VC’s for various reasons. But based on my experiences, these are the three persona’s you may find:

  • The Entrepreneur who wants to help others: The person has either built something successfully or has made enough mistakes to know what not to do. Either way, they join the game to impart their experience and wisdom to the next generation of entrepreneurs.
  • Climbed Up the Ladder: This person wasn’t planning on becoming a VC. They most likely climbed the corporate ladder and were looking for something exciting to work on next.
  • Fulfilling their calling in life: This person lives and breathes start-ups and knows the ins and outs of investing. They have been avidly reading TechCrunch since their teens and have probably dreamed of the moment they gain enough experience to apply for a VC position.

I find that many VC analysts fall into one of these buckets. There could be more, but these are a few I noticed. I haven’t built something before, fallen into it, and for sure didn’t have TechCrunch on my radar when I was in high school but somehow find myself here! Part of this inspiring team.

For me, venture capital is about helping people build successful companies adding value to customers and businesses in general. Why would I want to have a hand in building one start-up when I can play a role in the story of a 100? The exposure one can get from working across different industries and markets is unparalleled. You work with entrepreneurs side-by-side to turn fiction into reality!

In the end, if you’ve done your job correctly, you’ve probably helped make the world a better place in some way.