Episode 92 / November 22, 2020

Inside the mind of Shripriya Mahesh, Founding Partner, Spero Ventures

hr min

Episode 92 / November 22, 2020

Inside the mind of Shripriya Mahesh, Founding Partner, Spero Ventures

hr min
Listen on

In this episode of 100xEntrepreneur Podcast, we take you through the journey of Shripriya Mahesh from growing up in Madras (India) to working with eBay & Omidyar Network, making Films, and battling cancer while founding Spero Ventures.

Prior to Spero Ventures, she led Emerging Tech investing at Omidyar Network. Shripriya has been an active angel investor in, and board member or advisor to, private technology companies throughout her career. Shripriya formerly held several leadership roles at eBay including as Vice President of Product Marketing (US, revenue), and as Vice President of Global Product Management.

Shripriya has an MBA from Harvard Business School, an MFA in Film from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, and a B.A. in Economics from Stella Maris College, Madras University.

Listen to this podcast to learn about:

00:58 – From growing up in India in the early 90s to moving to the US

02:50 – Doing MBA from HBS & moving to Bay Area

09:26 – After eBay what prompted her to move to NYC to do a film-making Course?

15:47 – Joining Omidyar Network and later starting Spero Ventures

21:39 – Investing in mission-driven founders

23:44 – Battling cancer and building Spero Ventures

29:09 – “How technology is designed/biased towards the mainstream audience”.

30:51 – Building empathy in technology

36:53 – “The mission & business model of a company needs to be perfectly aligned”.

37:58 – Her perspective of Gen-Z’s mission-driven attitude to make the world a better place


Read the full transcript here:

Siddhartha 0:00

This is Siddhartha Ahluwalia, welcome to the 100x Entrepreneur podcast. Today, we have with us, Shripriya, Founding Partner at Spero Ventures. Shripriya is a founding partner at Spero Ventures where she invests in mission-driven founders building a future that belongs to everyone. Prior to Spero Ventures, she led Emerging Tech investing at Omidyar Network. Shripriya has been an active angel investor in, and board member or advisor to, private technology companies throughout her career. Shripriya formerly held several leadership roles at eBay including as Vice President of Product Marketing (US, revenue), and as Vice President of Global Product Management. Shripriya has an MBA from Harvard Business School, an MFA in Film from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, and a B.A. in Economics from Stella Maris College, Madras University. Welcome, Shripriya to the 100x Entrepreneur podcast.


Shripriya 0:56

Thank you so much, Siddhartha. I’m so excited to be here.


Siddhartha 1:01

Shripriya, you have a very diverse journey, we would love to know, you know, from growing up in Madras, back in the early 90s. How did you come to the US and your journey thereafter? And what led you into venture investing?


Shripriya 1:15

Sure, you know, when I was growing up in India, my dad was always actually very into computers. And so my brother and I learned to code when we’re only a year apart. So when I was 11, and he was 10. And that was really my introduction to computers. I was just completely fascinated. So when I was growing up in India, you know, in the late 80s, and early 90s, as you may know, and IT actually was really becoming a big thing, so I actually learned to code both COBOL and C, when I was there, and it was just, it all made sense to me. You know, even though I was doing an economics degree. Computer Science just made a lot of sense to me. And I’d always played computer games like King’s Quest or Prince of Persia, and I’d always been kind of a geek that way. And so I’d always loved computers. And then I ended up finishing college, working briefly in India for a couple of years. And then coming to come to Boston for graduate Business School at Harvard Business School. And, you know, it was a time when the open Internet was still just very much in development, right. So in 1995, when we started, all of us were given AOL accounts, and things were still in the AOL world. And in 1996, in our second year, we ended up switching to school accounts for the first time. And I set up my presence on the internet, I bought And I had this really simple, little geeky web page, which is like, Hey, this is me, here’s what I do. Here’s what I like, very much a throwback to that time. And I just been passionate about the internet and what it can do ever since. You know, when I finished HBS, I really wanted to move to Silicon Valley. Two of my classmates ended up being two of my section mates from Business School ended up being real pioneers in internet. David Perry started what is the name is it can cost? But it was a chemical business to business exchange. And it did really well. And, another classmate of mine steel actually started a book trading platform that got acquired by Amazon. And so when we graduated in 1997, I really wanted to come out to the Bay Area. But I couldn’t just had a whole set of reasons I had to kind of work in a real job, quote, unquote. And so I spent 15 of the most miserable months of my life doing consulting. And one of the best moments was when I interviewed in the Bay Area in 1998, and then ended up moving January of 99, I moved to the Bay Area, I moved to San Francisco. I joined a company called next card, which was at the time doing something quite phenomenal. They were taking your credit card information online and approving you for a card in 30 seconds, and then issuing you the card number immediately. So you could start shopping basically within a minute after you’re approved. So I joined Next Card to focus on e commerce efforts back in 1999. My job was to convince people to use our card online. And it was really kind of frontier attack at the time even though now we take it all for granted. And you know, I was doing product management. I was doing Product Marketing, I was doing bizdev and it was the first time really in 99 that I felt Oh my god, I love this job. So much, I worked nonstop, not because I had to, but because I just loved everything about it. You know, writing product requirements, documents, finding edge cases, working with engineers. It really fit with the way I thought about the world. And it was just fantastic. And I did that for about two and a half years. The company went public in May. I had joined in January or February. And it was quite a rollercoaster ride, because that I ended up two and a half years later committing securities fraud that the company ended up committing securities fraud. And so it was a really interesting ride. Fortunately, for me before that happened, very fortunately for me, before that happened, I ended up I had interviewed at a bunch of companies. And I landed at eBay. And eBay at the time in 2001, was already public. But when I went there, it had only 12 product managers, it truly is mind boggling to think about, this was a company that was three years public and had 12 product managers. And I ran selling side a bit as you know, as a marketplace with, you know, buyers and sellers. So I run all of the selling and the payments, and there was six product managers. And the buying had six product managers. And, you know, over my time there, by the time I left Product Management at eBay, it had over 70 product managers. So I joined in the five years I was there, I joined as probably the employee number 1800. And by the time I left, it was 15,000. And it was just an incredible time to be there. Yeah, so that that’s kind of like the highlights of my journey. And eBay was an amazing place. Amazing place not only because of the high growth but because of the passion of the people who were there. You know, we woke up every morning. And just so excited to be there thinking about the community that we were enabling. Some of my best friends were made at eBay, I am still in touch with most of the people that I worked with. And it was an incredible community, you know, like, as the product got larger, and we’d be working, you know, we do that still be like 2020 people there at dinner, and we’d be like, okay, we’re doing a dinner on what does everyone want? You know, we’d eat there. And, you know, we just worked really long hours, but because we were just so passionate about what we were doing, and what we were enabling, you know, global economic opportunity. eBay was really the first company that did it. And you’re all seem to take it for granted now. But it was quite an innovation.


Siddhartha 7:48

Yeah, it was a belief built by the pioneers in eBay. And the companies eBay acquired like PayPal.


Shripriya 7:55

Right. Yeah. And PayPal was an incredible company, right? I was very fortunate to be involved in the acquisition decision, as well as in the integration, you know, so I remember Meg Whitman, who was the CEO, who pull a group of people together. And you know, eBay was a very product driven company. So product would be part of that group. And we debate like should we acquire this company? Should we try to build it ourselves? And eventually, you know, as you know, we acquired the company, it was one of the best decisions we made.


Siddhartha 8:36

And then did you end up working closely with Peter Thiel or Elon Musk at that point in time?


Shripriya 8:43

No. So, Peter, I think left at acquisition he left Paypal, they’re very particular people, right. But I did work with the head of product who was there, I got to know Reed Hoffman, who is an amazing human being. He ended up starting LinkedIn. So yeah, not Peter, or David or Keith, but Reed. And Amy and, you know, David McLemore, and a lot of others who were at PayPal when we acquired them, Premal Shah, who went on to start Kiva. So there were just a lot of really great human beings at Paypal.


Siddhartha 9:28

And after your stint at eBay. What motivated you to you know, choose filmmaking as a passion and career for a long period of time?


Shripriya 9:38

Yeah. So, you know, I grew up in India in the 80s. And when I was growing up, the first school I went to was a Krishnamurti foundation school in Chennai called the school. And you know, there are Rishi Valley is the other school and I took a photography class when I was in fourth grade. And I absolutely loved it. And so I always tell my parents, oh, you know, I want to do photography. And you know, it was India. I was in the 80s, in the 90s, my parents would say, that is such a lovely hobby. You’re right, it would be a lovely hobby. And so it was very clear to me growing up that, I had to choose a real core uncore job. You know, photography was not a job, you know, it was a hobby. And so it was one of those things where I always dreamt of, you know, working, and then at some point, doing photography full time, because I will be able to, and I would be, it will be my decision, you know, I wouldn’t have to ask anyone else for that for permission. And while I was an eBay, I took an evening class at Stanford photography, just to kind of say, like, hey, do I really want to do this? And I realized that photography itself is just a very lonely career, right? Look, it’s a lonely job. It’s huge, you’re out there doing your thing. And I was like, okay, maybe it’s not that maybe it’s something adjacent to that. And I realized, in 2005, I was like, you know, I want to go and do a three month, film course, I want to figure out if this is for me. And eBay, john Donahoe was the CEO at the time. He’s now CEO of Nike, he was really very open-minded about letting me take three months off to go do that. And so I went to NYU, I went to their kind of continuing ed program, and I did a three month intensive in film. And I loved it, it feels it seemed to have so many parallels to the product, you know, I really enjoyed it. And so I said, Look, you know, if I don’t do it, now, when am I going to do it? It felt like a moment in time. And, yeah, the way I think about life is life is long. It’s a long and windy road. And I don’t want to regret the opportunities I didn’t take, you know, and I’ve always regretted it if I hadn’t tried film. And so I applied to NYU, and they take 36 students the route program. And I was very lucky and very fortunate to be accepted as one of the students. And then right as I was accepted, I realized I was pregnant with twins. And the head of the program was just so kind that he deferred my admission by two years. So I started the program when my boys were 18 months old. And it was three of the most intense years I’ve ever spent. Because as anyone who spent time on a set will know is it supposed to be a 10 hour day, you hope with a 12 hour day, it ends up being a 16 hour day, and you know, all of it is on set, you know, you’re standing, you’re doing your work, it’s high concentration, it might be a night shoot, in which case, you know, you’re flipping from a day schedule to a night schedule. You know, I was in my mid-30s, and most of my classmates were in their 20s. And, but you know, I loved it, and I would edit at home, and I would try to spend time with my kids, but we’d have classes from like, eight to 10.30 at night, you know, so it was a very consuming, all-consuming program. But I absolutely loved it. It has the creativity of product. It has the, you know, attention to detail when you edit it. It was really lovely. And I wrote a feature script that was accepted into film markets and film labs. And it was then that I realized, you know, it’s going to take me seven years to get this movie made, you know, from end to end from when I started writing to when I’m done editing, and it’s done with the festival circuit. If that, you know, it might even be nine. And you know, I missed the pace of technology, right? Technology just moves at a completely different pace. Nine years is, you know, a lifetime in technology. Right? So I missed the pace of technology. I missed the speed of it. And right as I was thinking of going back into technology, I was talking to one of my eBay colleagues and I said, Hey, I’m thinking of coming back to tech. And he said, Wait, we’re starting something and I’m like, Who’s we and what are we starting? And he’s like Pierre Omidyar, and he were noodling on an idea of Firstlook media. It was right around the time the Snowden revelations that come out. And Pierre really was. He considered buying the Washington Post, which eventually Jeff Bezos ended up buying. Pierre dedicated that same amount of money to starting first look media because he believed that a very strong and fearless media is fundamental to a democracy. And so, you know, so I joined the two of them and help brainstorm what would product look like or what could we do? And the journalists came on, and I was there for a year and a half, you know, working on product and design and working with engineers and helping get that whole thing set up. And, yeah, that was my journey back to tech.


Siddhartha 15:43

And what led you, you know, in 2018, to start your own venture?


Shripriya 15:49

Yeah. In 2015, when I was figuring out what came next after First Look media, I had talked to a lot of venture capitalists about their portfolios, and was there an appropriate role? So you know, the options range from COO, to head of product and very large public companies. And as I was talking to my VC friends, a couple of them actually said, Hey, would you consider a VC and it wasn’t something I had considered? To me, VC was always something that would come later, you know, and undefined later, like, I’ll do that later. You know, maybe later. And I was like, Huh, let me learn more. And so as I was talking to them, this role of Omidyar network came by I did actually come by earlier and I said, I’m not doing VC. So I was like, when I started talking to these people, I said, Well, if I’m going to talk to VC firms, I should certainly apply to Omidyar network, right? And so I found that talk that post, I reached out to the recruiter, and I said, Hey, I have no idea if you’re still looking for this job. I saw it like a couple of months ago. But if you are, I would love to be considered. And I heard back and we went through a process. And in August of 2015, I ended up at Omidyar network. And it was just an incredible team. It was an incredible focus. And, you know, I worked on emerging tech, I lead emerging tech for the US where I had no team and I had to hire and build the team out at India, where there was a team, but we needed more people. And you know, at that time, Omidyar network in India had already hired Rupa, who’s an amazing leader. And so at the time, we were structured by area of investment versus geography, right. And now we’re structured by geography. So, Rupa runs all of India. And you know, venture is just a very local game. And that’s the right way for us to be structured. It’s a local industry, more than a game. But yeah, I’m very glad that we’re structured that way right now. And the emerging tech team, which is now just the, you know, the venture investing team at Omidyar network in India is such a great team, you know, all of them. I don’t know all of them. But you know, I know Siddharth and Badri and Madhav and Abhishek. They’re all like really great venture investors.


Siddhartha 18:30

And in 2018, you spun out Spero Ventures from Omidyar.


Shripriya 18:35

Yeah, you know, one of the things, as Omidyar network kept growing, right. We realized that few things. One, all of the groups, startup world slightly differently, right, because, you know, whether, if you were doing financial inclusion, it was different from education, you know, and education in India, or financial inclusion in India was different from the US. And so, as we got larger, it became very clear that we were different, and how do we be the best investors in whatever region we were in, right. And so, when we looked at it that way, we realized that the way to do that was to be smaller and nimbler organizations, very focused. and India is a very competitive venture market, right? And so we said, Hey, in order to win deals there, we need to be focused as a whole unit in India, where we are working together across areas of investment, and making great investments, right. So you know, the emerging tech team at the time was Siddhartha, Madhav and Aditya, and then there was an education team. And then there was the Financial Inclusion team and so we just had everyone, you can each have a focus, but we’re gonna work together learn from each other, and we put them all under Rupa, right, who is just a phenomenal leader. And then for us, you know, and we did the same with financial inclusion in the US, they began flourish. But we were the only group, the US focused emerging tech group who was very focused on venture investments. And we realized that having, you know, Omidyar, the name carried this implication of dual checkbook. And so we were actually the first ones to spin out, we, we spun out in January of 2018, we branded ourselves as Spero ventures, and we say now that we invest in the things that make life worth living, well being, work and purpose and human connection, We are very much a single bottom line venture firm. Our thesis, though, is that we invest in mission-driven founders. And we believe that mission and purpose fuel your growth, and will help make you you know, very successful. The examples we use are eBay, Tesla, water, they each had admission great. And I wrote a post a couple of weeks ago about what is you know, its mission is such a misunderstood word. And the way we think about it is by doing your core function. So in eBay, connecting buyers and sellers to consummate a transaction. By doing that core function you are making, you’re moving towards your mission, your mission is getting executed. So that’s how we define mission. It’s not this thing to the side. It’s not charity, it’s not, you know, CSR, it’s not you know, any of those things, it’s core to who you are, how you think about the world, how you build a company, how you build product, your values, you know, how you make decisions. So it’s just very core to the company. And so we invest in mission-driven founders, building these companies, and we aim for venture returns. So, that’s who we are. And because we were different enough in that regard, we spun out we rebranded. And we made a ton of investments since then following this thesis.


Siddhartha 22:19

Just you know, to highlight to the listener for some of your investments in the three core areas are in Health & wellness which you categorise in well being are Core, Genclove, Roam, Tortuga Agtech, Clarity. In Work and Purpose, there are Jopwell, Crew, Bunker, Mati, Skillshare Human Connection: Hustle, Coco, Rushtix. Have I completed all or have I missed?


Shripriya 22:49

Yeah, I mean, you know, it’s all listed on our website. But yeah, we categorize them that way. And, you know, the way we think about a company when they come in, you know, often people say, like, Is it b2b or b2c? When a company comes in, we think about, like, what is the problem this company solving, right? And then we say, Okay, if this company gets to scale, what does the world look like? And then we say, okay, you know, we think this is an amazing company, let’s figure out if the business model works, and if it aligns with the mission, and so we invest like a VC, once we pass our first filter of like, what’s the mission? You know, what’s it going to be when it grows up and gets to scale?


Siddhartha 23:30

In one of your video interviews, mentioned, Shripriya, that while you are building or just at the start of Spero ventures, you are the, you know, battling cancer. And how did that shape your perspective? What was that period, like, when you had two small boys at home, building a new venture fund? And, you know, going through such transformative phase yourself, you know,


Shripriya 24:01

Yeah, you know, it was late 2000s. It was August or September of 2000, August of 2017. And I had a presentation to Pierre and the board just about, like, Hey, here’s how we recommend we spin out. You know, here’s our name, here’s how we should structure it to get the final approvals for this. We’ve been working on it. And two weeks before that, you know, I just, I discovered that I’d been diagnosed with breast cancer. And, you know, I was in my early 40s, it was really shocking to me that it was stunning, right? And it’s one of those moments that just stops you and makes you really evaluate everything in your life like wow, should I be doing this? How should I rethink my life? What should I do? And I’m, you know, the board and Pierre which is so kind and supportive. They said, Listen, if you want to keep going with this, happy to do that. If you want to stop and take a break and just focus on your health, happy to do that, please tell us how we can support you. So it was just amazing. To be to feel that supported and feel that, you know, it’s rare, you know, you know, in a for-profit environment, right. They’re just very good people. And I decided that, you know, I kind of like looked at my life and I said, you know, what really matters to me. And like, the primary thing, you know, if you haven’t had an event like that is the desperate desire to live, I was like, I really want to live, I want to grow old. See my kids, have kids, and I want to be there for my children. And that was the fundamental thing I wanted to get well, I wanted to spend time with my family. And I wanted to work on something really meaningful. You know, I was like, This is such a wake-up call, I want to make sure that what consumes all of us, you know, for me, I just love working because I’ve often been lucky to find things I’m passionate about. So I was like, I will end up working 12 plus hours on any given day. So, it has to be something that has meaning. And as I looked at where I was and what I was doing, I realized that those were the thesis areas for Spero ventures, my health, health and well-being work, and purpose. Not just work, but work and purpose and human connection. And I said, you know, like this, I made the decision that I wanted to keep working. So I worked through chemo. You know, we figured out all our plans to spin out while I was undergoing treatment, and surgery, and you know about we went public with it about six weeks after my major surgery. And so it was one of those things Spero ventures really was the thing that gave me hope during a very difficult time. And the interesting story there is actually Omidyar either means Omid means hope. And so Omidyar either means the man from hope or the man of hope, which I think has an amazing, amazing name. And I had looked up hope in every language and Spero means hope in Latin, and the URL was available. That’s how we make naming decisions these days. Right. And so, you know, Spero actually gave me a lot of hope through that time. And, you know, we say, listen, we are investors give us hope for the future that we will live in. And it was really a moment of great, like, you know, when someone goes through chemo, you kind of get wrecked, and it’s very easy to feel down and tired and exhausted and lose hope. And, you know, work was the kind of like a bright, shining moment in my life where I could focus on something in the future, focus on something we were creating and building. And it really got me through that difficult time.


Siddhartha 27:58

You mentioned an incident during that time, that, you know, when you open your laptop, and you had face recognition in it?


Shripriya 28:10

Yeah. Yeah, it was actually my phone. Apple just made the switch from the touch-based your fingerprint, to unlock to face ID. And, you know, like, I would be lying down with my phone. And, you know, I set up face ID and, I could either set it up by being bald, so no cap, completely bald, no hair, and then it will open. But if I had my cap on, because, you know, I’d often be cold, or I’d be, you know, going somewhere where I needed to wear my cap. It wouldn’t recognize me. And so it was such a frustration. And I realized that, you know, fortunately luckily for me, it was a temporary period in my life, right? It was six months, eight months, eight months of my life. But there are people who deal with this every day. And it made me realize how much technology is designed for the mainstream. And we ignore everyone else. And you know, like there were just a series of things that I have a TV in my bedroom, and the TV has this little light, little green light, but when you go through chemo, my anxiety was so high that little green light was like this bright shining alarm, right like I couldn’t go to sleep. And so it’s all these things that you notice when you’re not in the norm that really came home to me when I was dealing with chemo. You know I had no grip because you lose your fingerprint, you lose it kind of like just wears away because of chemo the edges of your fingers and toes lose grip. I had no nails. So it’s all these things that you take for granted as a fully functioning adult, that when you go to something like this, you realize how much people who aren’t in the mainstream deal with in their everyday lives, potentially forever, that we don’t design for.


Siddhartha 30:20

Yeah, and technology is designed till now for use cases, but not, you know, taking kindness or empathy into consideration. Yeah, surprising.


Shripriya 30:33

Yeah, it’s really, you know, as we have more AI, more robotic interactions, I do think, empathy, and we’ve seen a few companies in the space that are really on the cutting edge. Who are thinking about how to build empathy into technology? And I think it’ll be a big change in the next 20 years, as we think about tech.


Siddhartha 31:05

If I say that, you know, at this moment in life, you are a venture investor. But you have so much different experiences in life, Shripriya from let’s say, the other traditional venture investors, you know, you have been a filmmaker, you have been a high worth corporate executive, and you have gone through these experiences which change your perspective as a person, for example, in 2017 2018, when you are battling cancer, right, so how does this all, you know, give you a different purpose today, when you are looking at companies?


Shripriya 31:45

Yeah, I mean, I think having different perspectives is really important in investing, you know, having different people invest is also important, right? Like, women, you know, underrepresented people, we need the investing world to look like the world, right, so that we invest in products that help the whole world, right, not just the very exclusive part of the world. I think, you know, look, if you think about Silicon Valley, and I think India is different, because of the way the technology industry in India evolved, right? There’s not like this core group who’s been engineers forever, and then investors forever, India does have diverse investors. But if you think about Silicon Valley, you know, there has been historically a kind of investor, you know, the engineers, they went to Stanford, they went to Cal, they went to MIT, you know, they come there, you know, like they become, they start a company, then they become venture investors, and they literally have never done anything outside of the technology world. And I think they’re very smart, kind, incredible people who built the venture industry here, right? I think they looked at opportunities, and they invested in great companies. But I think, you know, we now live in a world where technology is just different, right? Like, back in the 80s, and 90s, even the early 2000s. Technology touched some people, you know, it touched a lot of people in the US, but it touched a small percentage of the globe. And now technology has permeated through everything. And so I think we need people with broader perspective to see the potential and ideas that people without that perspective may not have. I’m not saying I will, but you know, that’s the question we ask ourselves every day, right? Like, what is the unique advantage this company has? What is the unique advantage, we have to help this company? And, you know, that’s how we view the world. You know, I was very fortunate when I moved to New York was the first time you know, I’d really lived outside the Silicon Valley bubble. And it was an amazing experience, right to talk to people who are in the arts, to talk to people who are dancers and actors. And yeah, they use technology, but it was very much to fulfill their passion, right? versus technology being all-consuming like it is here in Silicon Valley. Every single person here works in tech, whether it’s an accounting for tech, legal for tech or something, but it’s all tech all the time. But being outside that bubble really gave me that perspective of look, tech should be used to help people advance what they want to achieve in their lives. And so that’s how we think about it. My venture partner in Spero ventures is Marc Terpenning. He was the co founder of Tesla, you know, and he cares deeply about sustainability. You know, when he and Martin started Tesla, they were like, Listen, oil is going to be a problem. Climate change is going to be a problem. We need to move towards electric cars. And the way they thought about the world was we don’t want you to buy this car because it’s electric. We want you to buy this car because it’s the best car in the market. It happens to be an electric car. So by fulfilling their core function of selling electric cars, they will move in the world towards a non gas future. Right? And, and so, you know, Marc has joined us. And, you know, we think Marc has a very different perspective on the world as well, you know, he looks at the world, he thinks about what he wants, what he wants to live in, what he wants his children to live in. And he invests in those things that will make their life great. Instead of saying, Oh, this ad-based business, you’re walking down the street, and ads are flying at you. He’s like, I don’t want to live like that, when I’m going to invest in that, even though that may come to pass, and people may invest in that’s not what we want to invest in. You know, so we try to use our time where we’ve thought differently, and bring that into the investing decisions.


Siddhartha 35:48

And how have you seen them over the last three years scale? And, you know, because one of the aims of venture is to generate returns?


Shripriya 35:58



Siddhartha 35:59

So, how does that purpose marry with the return?


Shripriya 36:02

It’s completely tied. So the way we think about it is we measure ourselves based on return, we’re a single bottom line Venture Fund, the only measure we measure ourselves on is our our return to our LP, and, but our filter is mission. So we invest in companies that have a powerful mission that we think will be amazing returns. So if you think about Tesla, right? And this is the key thing, like we don’t think of it as is it doing good? Or is it making money, we think they intrinsically go hand in hand. So you think about Tesla, what is the core purpose of Tesla, it’s to build and sell electric cars to people, every car they sell, brings them money, and moves them towards their mission. So we don’t invest in things where the mission and the business model are different. The mission and the business model have to be perfectly aligned. And then we think you can have a pretty great company.


Siddhartha 37:06

And as you scale, you know, or does your worldview see that there are less number of these companies, or there is more number of these companies?


Shripriya 38:19

So you know, as you think about millennials and Gen Z. They care deeply about the world in which they live. Where they spend their time how they spend their money. And you know, they’re inheriting Gen Z is inheriting a very tough situation with climate change, you know, so they are the generation that is going to have to fix this problem. So Gen Z, is laser-focused on how can they save the planet, right? And how can they work on things that matter? And it’s absolutely inspiring, and heartwarming, to see this generation start to come of age, the oldest are just starting to come of age, and to see what they care about. And we’ve been doing this, I’ve been doing this for five years now mission-driven investing. And I’m really starting to see more and more investors who care deeply about the mission and who want investors who care about the mission. You know, entrepreneurs are really smart. They know when VCs truly care about mission, and they’ve been investing in the mission all along. And people who just say, hey, mission matters, just because it’s the new cool thing to say, you know, and so we feel like we are in a great position to support the next generation of entrepreneurs who will make our world better, safer, more livable, more accessible, provide more opportunities to more people. So we definitely think the world is has made a dramatic shift towards that worldview


Siddhartha 39:58

and Shripriya, our world has never faced, you know, at least our generation has never faced such a time, you know, that in the same year, we have a global pandemic, which it has consumed millions of life, you know, and currently has around 50 million people affected by the COVID. And at a similar time, you know, California believed that, you know, hey, climate change is a third world problem. But, you know, you had fires in California where it almost became unlivable.


Shripriya 40:40

Yeah, it was unbelievable. Yeah.


Siddhartha 40:43

And you have at the same time, you know, many unrest, you know, Black Lives Matter. So, has the perspective of founder change that, you know, those who are only a building venture for the sake of being an entrepreneur or having their destiny in their own hands. Now, they think you know, if somebody is not fixing the world is better be me who fix it.


Shripriya 41:10

You know, I do think entrepreneurs, look, I think, I think what this year has shown us, it’s a huge wake-up call, right? And, while we want to be individualistic and feel we can have, I think the way to be individualistic is to say I can have a massive positive impact. But I am also connected with every other person on this planet. If I don’t bring people along with me, and give access and possibility to all people, then none of us progress, right? Like, that’s what we’re seeing, like, if we say, Hey, we don’t care about climate, because it doesn’t affect me individually. That’s just not the way it works. Because the world is connected, we live on this one blue dot, right? And you we can’t be that individualistic, that we’re not willing to, you know, make it better for everyone. Because if we don’t make it better for everyone, then there’s unrest, right? That is eventually going to affect you. So I think where individual where individualism has to shine is where you say, Hey, I, as a person, have this brilliant idea, I’m going to make the world better, where it cannot shine, or where you should realize we’re all connected is opportunity has to be equally distributed, right now, the opportunity is not equally distributed. And when we make the opportunity, more equally distributed, where anyone anywhere in the world can improve their lives and live we all I mean, like all human beings, want the same thing, you know, they want peace, and they want to be able to have families and peace and live the lives where they can follow their passion. Right. And I think what we’ve realized is we need to make opportunity accessible for all, you know, and in the US, it’s particularly Stark, you know, I think it’s not so stark for some countries, but climate change is really hitting the US. I mean, we had AQI of over 300 in California, and even yesterday, in the North Bay, you know, people I know, were evacuated. Because the fires were too close. Now the fires are, you know, if not at their home in their neighborhood. And so it’s a really scary time for people in technology, you know, who lived in this bubble to say, hey, wow, climate change is real. It’s here. How do I deal with this? And what do I do? And I think there’s, I think there was a TechCrunch article a couple of days ago, where there has been more investment in climate change this year, then, maybe any other industry. Because people are like, it’s a bit late, but you know, better, better late than never. And so I think there’s a huge focus, and there are firms who have been focused on this for three or four years. They’re not the most well-known firms. There’s a VC firm where one of the partners actually has been writing about this for over 18 months and has been investing in this for over three years. They’re really at the forefront of thinking about climate change and how it affects everything we do.


Siddhartha 44:14

Thank you, Shripriya, you know, your perspectives, experience have really been unique and the way you look at entrepreneurship, venture capital. You know, I really believe that sperse a change in future entrepreneurs who want to build a good world as at the same time impact of massive change and seem to ignore those who are ambitious, want to have a massive amount of wealth. Also, thank you so much for being on the 100x entrepreneur podcast. It was a pleasure having you.


Shripriya 44:44

Thank you so much, Siddhartha, it was such a pleasure to be here and I’m wishing you all the very best as you race towards your 100th episode.


Siddhartha 44:52

Thank you so much.


Vector Graphic Vector Graphic

Know when new episodes are released. Subscribe to our newsletter!

Please enter a valid email id