While Raj did not make much effort in the way of formally analyzing his acceptance of an EIR position, he does share with us what his criteria should have been. In essence, we are benefiting from a “hindsight is 20/20”. Raj goes into detail regarding what he feels is important in an EIR arrangement.
SM: Let’s break each of those areas down a bit more. What do you mean by having an aligned philosophy? RV: I’m a technical guy, so I tend to be interested in businesses which, and this is the only way I can think to put it, “should exist”. What I mean is that I’m less interested in things that exploit some kind of temporary gap in technology, or some kind of temporary financial arbitrage. I’m more interested in things that really “move the needle” in creating whole new areas of business or develop new technologies.
One way to characterize this is “long term”, though I don’t mean to say that “short term” is a pejorative. There are plenty of highly profitable companies to be started based on exploiting a short term window of opportunity. I just happen to be willing to wait for something to develop. If you’re like this, then you need to make sure you have patient investors. I found very quickly that Foundation was one of those.
SM: You also mentioned Foundation was small and focused. Why was that important to you? RV: The benefit for me was that I ended up working with all of the partners in various ways, and that I was able to get time and attention from each of them. This may seem counter-intuitive; one would think that a small firm would be so busy with deal flow, etc., that the people have less time to devote to that pesky EIR. Somehow the Foundation folks always made it seem that they had time for me. I attribute this to their being clear on the kinds of deals they’re interested in doing as it cuts down on random deal flow, and also because they are willing to invest time in developing something within those areas.