Labels. You can't avoid them. They are everywhere. Start-up person. First Time Founder. Big company person. Investor. Operator. Favorable or unfavorable, everyone unfortunately has a label based on where they have been in the past, not where they are going. Nevermind the additional systematic barriers or unconscious biases that come in the way.
I take a sternly contrarian view to defining potential by limiting to labels. In my career as a company builder & executive product leader, I have seen the best customer, market and wealth creation outcomes only appear when different multi-disciplinary and heterogenous backgrounds blend in to create something new and uniquely powerful that didn't exist YET. I believe in the power of YET.
One is not a Founder, YET.
A Senior Operator is not an Investor, YET.
For the potential of both of these YETs to unfold, a first principles based investing approach, advisor network and most important a sustained will to create change is needed. Venture capital at its core is purely based on a leap of faith of someone, and a team, going somewhere ground-breaking.There would actually be no venture capital industry if it only invested based on what the past has looked like.Yet, we find it ironic that for an industry like venture capital that bets on making “leaps of faith”, there is a large demographic of South Asian founders, investors and operators systematically underrepresented in the extremely homogeneous venture capital ecosystem today.
Neythri Futures Fund is systematically unlocking that YET for many South Asian operators, founders and investors. 60% of our LPs are first time Venture Capital investors! We are growing, as LPs, with seasoned investing expertise of fund’s managing partners. The fund is creating a path for building investing acumen and wealth creation for an underserved and ignored demographic of South Asian women in venture capital - both on cap tables and as founders.
Speaking of defying & blending labels, the time has now arrived for Operator-Investors (and not just career investors) in Venture Capital. My fellow LPs in Neythri's fund bring significant track record, relationships in the industry, and experience navigating challenges that founders face and add a unique value to a company's cap table. The Fund Advisory Council, that I am proud to serve on, has 25+ senior South Asian women operators in Product, GTM, Growth, Finance and Technology and that right off the bat is of immense value to a first time founder. Operator Investors, such as the ones brought together by the Neythri Futures Fund have the ability to separate the hype from the reality and vet opportunities from the lens of deep subject matter and sector expertise. The value of this LP network is also powerful in tapping deep sector networks for hiring for the companies we invest in.
Company building is a team sport. So is Investing. Investing in company-building by underrepresented diverse founders is the most rewarding and ROI maximizing venture capital opportunity there is today. Founders are also becoming smarter about who they raise capital from and Neythri fund is poised to provide that value accelerating platform to first time female founders. I call it “impact right where change is desperately needed.” In a market of easy access to venture capital funds, I wanted to invest through a fund that brought the highest value, a founder, per dollar invested and this Operator-Investor network is a critical part of it!
We can talk about existing implicit bias in venture capital and keep sitting on the sidelines waiting for someone else to do something. OR we can jump right in to do something about it to change the status-quo. Therefore,
As an Operator-Investor,
As a believer in the power of YET,
As a champion of mission-driven female founded companies,
I chose the latter and that's why I am "Invested Together" with Neythri Futures Fund.
About the Author
Akanksha has spent 16 years in B2B SaaS and most recently served as a Product Management Executive (Vice President) for the SaaS portfolio at GE Digital. She is a scaling advisor to many B2B SaaS and Future of Work start-ups. Akanksha is also a Founding Circle member at Neythri.org and a recent founding limited partner of the Neythri Futures Fund, a mission driven investment fund that aims to put South Asian women front and center in the venture capital world. Her vantage point as a long distance hiker, health and fitness enthusiast have deeply shaped her perspective on how to lead amidst hyper-growth, constant change and ambiguity to cultivate high-performance environments.