- Facebook’s first female engineer Ruchi Sanghvi is the only desi woman included in ‘Seed 100’ and ‘Seed 25,’ a list of the top female seed investors.
Several Indian Americans are among Business Insider’s ‘Seed 100,’ a list of venture capitalists who have mastered early-stage investing, based on data analysis from Tribe Capital, a seed venture-capital firm and an investor in other funds. “The venture capitalists who write the earliest checks — known as seed investors — take the biggest risks,” Business Insider says. “ But when they choose well, they also reap the biggest rewards,” the publication adds. “With huge profits at stake, thousands of institutions and individuals are active seed investors.”
Listed in ‘Seed 100’ and ‘Seed 25,” a list of the top female seed investors is Ruchi Sanghvi, the partner at South Park Commons. She is the only Indian American woman named in the coveted list. The first female engineer at Facebook at age 23, Sanghvi left the social network to start her own software company, Cove, and sold it to Dropbox two years later. She now runs a community of founders, operators, and investors that describes itself as the “anti-incubator.” South Park Commons helps people build and validate their business ideas, without the strict fundraising timelines or massive startup cohorts of a traditional accelerator.
Joining Sanghvi are several Indian American men VCs who have mastered early-stage investing and have succeeded repeatedly. They include:
Nitesh Banta, co-founder and CEO, B12, which makes software for helping businesses with front-office tasks. A serial entrepreneur, Banta started his venture career at General Catalyst. He continues to invest in 15 to 25 companies a year.
Amish Jani, founder and managing director, FirstMark, cut his teeth at Pequot Ventures before it spun out the venture arm into its own company, called FirstMark. Business Insider says Jain “raised the first fund at the end of the last recession and, alongside his partner Rick Heitzmann, grew the firm into New York’s preeminent early-stage firm.” Now FirstMark has its own blank-check company to buy a startup and take it public.
Amitt Mahajan, co-founder and managing partner, Presence Capital “is the ultimate investor for a gaming founder who wants industry experts at the table,” Business Insider says. In 2009, he sold his company to Zynga, and its software laid the foundation for Farmville. He stayed on for two years, becoming a director of engineering and then the chief technical officer for Zynga Japan. Mahajan worked at three more startups before setting aside his entrepreneurial pursuits to become a full-time investor focused on virtual-reality and augmented-reality companies.
Naval Ravikant, co-founder and chairman, AngelList is a prolific early-stage investor with “over 150 investments, including more than a few with valuations above $1 billion,” according to his profile on angel.com, a startup and remote jobs search website. Still, his greatest contribution to the ecosystem is starting AngelList, a website that connects companies that need funding with individual investors. The website has been credited with removing the friction for angel investors to find and get into deals.
Ashmeet Sidana, chief engineer, Engineering Capital, a seed-stage VC firm for engineers. His previous investments include Palerra, which was acquired by Oracle; FreeWheel, which was acquired by Comcast; Appurify, which was acquired by Google; and PrivateCore, which was acquired by Facebook. Earlier in his career, Sidana worked at VMware, where he ran product management, and at Hewlett-Packard and Silicon Graphics as an engineer.
Jishnu Bhattacharjee is managing director, Nexus Venture Partners. He was previously a founding team member at Scintera Networks, which sold to Maxim Integrated Products in 2014. He has invested in companies like the enterprise startup H2O.ai, the data company Okera, and the developer platform Postman.
Avichal Garg, co-founder and managing partner, Electric Capital, has worked at Apple, Facebook, and Google before co-founding the early-stage venture firm focused on crypto technologies and fintech.
Gaurav Jain, co-founder and managing partner, Afore Capital, whose website gives visitors a warning: “Partnering with Afore may greatly increase your chance of kicking ass.” Jain has the track record to back it up. He invested in the seed rounds of Modern Health, a recent unicorn; Cruise, a self-driving vehicle company; and Petal, a fintech startup.
Salil Deshpande, general partner, Uncorrelated Ventures is a passionate proponent of open-source technology and invests accordingly. He’s invested in companies such as Quantum Metric, a software startup, and MuleSoft, which was acquired by Salesforce for $6.5 billion.
Sheel Mohnot, co-founder, Better Tomorrow Ventures, a firm specializing in fintech startups. He invested early in companies such as Flexport, valued at $3.2 billion, and Albert, which recently raised $100 million. Mount was briefly featured in Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande’s music video for “Stuck with U.” The video has over 152 million views.