Now Reading
Kingmakers: Several Indian American Early-stage Investors Among Business Insider’s ‘The Seed 100’

Kingmakers: Several Indian American Early-stage Investors Among Business Insider’s ‘The Seed 100’

  • The financial and business news website describes them as “not just check-writers but shrewd risk-takers, enthusiastic collaborators, and trend forecasters.”

Several Indian Americans are among Business Insider’s ‘The Seed 100,” an annual list of the best early-stage investors of this year. “Behind most startup founders is an early-stage investor who saw their potential, nurtured their ambition, and backed their ideas,” said the New York City-based multinational financial and business news website. “These are not just check-writers but shrewd risk-takers, enthusiastic collaborators, and trend forecasters.” The fourth edition of the list “celebrates the kingmakers who provide the vital first push startups need to become industry titans.

Following are Indian American early-stage investors included in the list:

Avichal Garg, managing partner, Electric Capital, Palo Alto, California

Despite the long shadow over the broader crypto market caused by the spectacular collapse of crypto exchanges like FTX and Binance, Garg and Electric Capital, “are continuing to bet big on decentralized and blockchain-based technologies,” Business Insider notes. In addition to his work with Electric Capital, Garg has been a successful angel investor for at least a decade. He has been an early backer of Cruise, Deel, and Figma. He has also worked at both Facebook and Google and has founded multiple startups of his own before getting into investing.

Gaurav Jain, co-founder and managing partner, Afore Capital, San Francisco, California

When Jain joined Android as a product manager, the platform had under 1 million users, Business Insider noted, adding that it now has over 2 billion. After working at Google, he worked in venture at Founder Collective, where he invested in companies like Airtable, Firebase, and Cruise. In 2016, he launched Afore Capital and has quietly created one of the largest firms focusing on pre-seed investments. In 2022, “the firm closed a third $150 million fund, double the size of its previous fund,” the website said. “Afore’s superpower is to help companies get to product-market fit and unlock a Series A,” he told Business Insider.

Arjun Sethi, co-founder, Tribe Capital; cofounder, Termina, Menlo Park, California

As the co-founder of Tribe Capital, Sethi takes a quantitative approach to seed investing, harnessing data to unearth hidden startup gems and work out their pitfalls. This approach has led to early investments in Applied Intuition, the self-driving-car software company that landed $250 million in funding in March, and Rippling, the workforce-management software company that’s had explosive growth even as business software spending has stalled. The past two years have seen many investors retreat from markets like fintech, healthcare, and business software. Sethi, however, has intensified his focus and led his firm to incubate several companies in these sectors. “Our approach during this downturn was to double down on our strengths,” he told Business Insider.

Salil Deshpande, general partner, Uncorrelated Ventures, Palo Alto, California

Although Deshpande invested in about “half a dozen” AI startups at the seed stage, Business Insider notes that Deshpande “won’t jump at every opportunity to write a check.” He called AI a “hot mess” and said he’s “waiting for the trough of disillusionment to invest more. He told the website that he “considers AI to be a subset of infrastructure software, which is the investing focus of his firm, Uncorrelated Ventures.” Since starting his firm, he has raised millions, “most recently, he raised $315 million at the beginning of 2024 for a new fund,” Business Insider noted. 

Sheel Mohnot, cofounder and general partner, Better Tomorrow Ventures, San Francisco, California 

Mohnot has been featured on the Seed 100 every year since its inception three years ago. In 2020, he cofounded Better Tomorrow Ventures, a fintech venture firm. Before that, he was an angel investor in companies like Flexport and Ironclad. He’s been investing in fintech since 2015 and cofounded the food company Thistle before starting his venture capital career. He says his firm “specializes in helping startups with sales, recruiting, business development, community building, and raising money for the next round of funding.” His firm has “introduced founders to their next-round investors over 90% of the time,” he added. 

Shruti Gandhi, founder and general partner, Array Ventures, San Francisco, California

As a one-time startup founder, Gandhi decided to raise a fund” because she saw a need for more investors who rolled up their sleeves at the seed stage,” according to Business Insider. Her fund, Array Ventures, helps technical founders with early sales and develop their go-to-market strategy. It “brings a unique twist to venture capital, and supports a community of more than 200 C-level experts from top public and private companies to help founders from day one, providing them with wisdom from experience and access to their ideal customers.”

Nikhil Basu Trivedi, co-founder and general partner, Footwork, San Francisco, California

Trivedi began his career as an early hire at Artsy, an online art marketplace. He later spent two years at Insight Partners and nearly eight years at Shasta Ventures. He “quickly developed an eye for tech-startup successes,” Business Insider said, noting his investment in the graphic-design app Canva, “which was reportedly valued at $26 billion earlier this year.” He co-founded the venture firm Footwork in 2021, “which makes seed and Series A investments out of a $175 million fund,” Business Insider said. Trivedi told the website he’s “focused on finding startups with early signs of product-market fit.”

Anshu Sharma, co-founder and CEO, Skyflow, Mountain View, California

Sharma has been writing checks to early-stage startups for over a decade He’s been following his investing motto — “always be closest to the smartest people you know,” Business Insider notes. Thanks to his Moto, he scored him an investment in Nutanix, whose “initial public offering was in 2016 and was valued at over $2 billion.”

Robin Vasan, managing partner, Mango Capital, Los Altos, California

Vasan founded the early-stage, enterprise-focused Mango Capital in 2018 and was an early investor in startups like the cloud database Couchbase and web-development platform Netifly. Before founding his firm, he spent 20 years at Mayfield, one of Silicon Valley’s oldest venture-capitalist firms. He credits his “decades of experience in Silicon Valley” for giving him “a bird’s-eye view into how founders at the enterprise stage can find success.” 

Hemant Taneja, CEO and managing director, General Catalyst, San Francisco, California

Taneja shook up the healthcare industry in 2023 when he announced the creation of the Health Assurance Transformation Company or HATco. The company was owned by the venture-capitalist firm General Catalyst and “sought to make healthcare more accessible with a focus on preventative care,” Business Insider notes. Taneja was “an early investor in the diabetes company Livongo, which sold to Teladoc in 2020 for $13.9 billion,” Business Insider added. In 2017, he founded the healthcare data company Commure, “which was valued at $6 billion last year after merging with Athelas, another General Catalyst portfolio company.”

Rayyan Islam, co-founder and general partner, 8090 Industries, Dallas, Texas 

See Also

Islam cofounded 8090 Industries in 2020 to back founders building in “the new industrial revolution,” Business Insider notes. The firm invests in partnership with more than two dozen energy and industry-focused family offices. Islam told Business Insider that “repurposing carbon dioxide is “especially critical, as AI takes off. We can’t have abundant AI without abundant energy. He also co-founded the clean hydrogen company Gold Hydrogen in 2022.

Nitesh Banta, co-founder and CEO, B12, New York City

B12, the professional services firm that Banta cofounded in 2016, is his third venture as a serial entrepreneur. He previously co-founded the car-sharing app Getaround, and the student-focused venture firm Rough Draft Ventures, which is backed by General Catalyst. As an angel investor, Banta said he’s energized by the emergence of new tools and smaller startup teams boosted by AI. “There has never been a more exciting to be in technology,” he told Business Insider. “The rapid rise of AI intersecting with new technologies and markets makes today a special time to build.”

Ankur Jain, founder and partner, Emergent Ventures, San Francisco, California 

Jain, the founder of Emergent Ventures, owes a string of successful investments to his own tech chops. The longtime Cisco engineer and product manager has been scouring the world for promising startups in artificial intelligence long before the category took to the stratosphere. He founded Emergent in 2016. Since then, Jain has enjoyed a number of exits, with portfolio companies selling to enterprise giants like Databricks, Nutanix, SailPoint, and VMWare.

Abhishek Sharma, managing director,  Nexus Venture Partners, Menlo Park, California

An engineer by training who studied at the Indian Institute of Technology, Sharma cofounded the startup He earlier did a stint at eBay, and worked as an associate at the consulting firm Booz & Company. Since 2015, he’s been with the VC firm Nexus Venture Partners, which focuses on enterprise SaaS startups in the US and digital companies in India. He has led some of the firm’s deals with companies like Clover Health, and the sales intelligence platform

Vivek Garipalli, investor, Wormhole Capital, New York City 

Garipalli, a newcomer to the Seed 100, makes the majority of his investments in healthcare. He previously cofounded and led the health-insurance-tech company Clover Health, which went public in a 2020 SPAC deal that valued the company at $3.7 billion. He’s currently the executive chair of Clover Health’s board of directors and remains its largest shareholder. Before that, he co-founded the health system CarePoint Health and the revenue-services company Ensemble Health. Garipalli said “Making startup bets through Wormhole Capital, the investment arm of his family office, allows him to focus on working with standout founders.” 

Ajay Agarwal, partner, Bain Capital Ventures, Boston, Massachusetts

Agarwal puts money and support behind founders solving hard problems in the physical world or for old-line industries. Over two decades at Bain, he led investments in companies like Kiva Systems and ShipBob. He founded his first startup as a sophomore at Stanford and worked at Trilogy Software, where he ran product and sales for eight years until it reached $300 million in annual recurring revenue.

What's Your Reaction?
In Love
Not Sure
View Comments (0)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

© 2020 American Kahani LLC. All rights reserved.

The viewpoints expressed by the authors do not necessarily reflect the opinions, viewpoints and editorial policies of American Kahani.
Scroll To Top