Responding to a popular request, we are now sharing transcripts of our investor podcast interviews in this new series. The following interview with Ravi Mohan was recorded in June 2018.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s start by introducing our audience to you and to Shasta. Tell us a bit about your background. As we are sitting in 2018, what is Shasta’s investment focus?
Ravi Mohan: I’m very fortunate to be a venture capitalist. I began my career building software. I did that at three different companies. I started off working with large systems integrations company. Since I’ve been in the technology industry for quite a while, I began writing mainframe programs for them.
I then moved to a software company that ended up becoming Hyperion. Then I worked three to four years in India with my mother when we had a small software business building decision support systems. Our customers were large multinationals as well as large Indian businesses. We also did work in the Far East in countries like Singapore and Indonesia. Then I got my MBA.
For the last 22 years, I’ve been a venture capitalist focused on SaaS companies and infrastructure companies whose customers are other enterprises. Shasta is a classic early-stage West Coast-oriented venture firm. We’ve raised five funds and are currently investing in our 5th fund which is a $320 million fund. We invest across stages. We do seed investment, Series A, Series B. Occasionally, we will do growth investment.
The areas that we focus on are B2B software, SaaS, B2C services, and emerging platforms. That includes augmented reality, virtual reality, robotics. We have seven investment partners and a small staff.
Sramana Mitra: Let me double-click down on a few things. First and foremost, you said West Coast-oriented but you also prefaced the introduction with your very deep background in India. How does that play in your investment activities today? Are you looking at companies that are Silicon Valley-headquartered that have a lot of India backend? Is it pure West Coast companies?
Ravi Mohan: In terms of geography, we invest primarily in the West Coast where the headquarters of the companies are. That includes Seattle, Los Angeles, San Diego. We also have made a series of investments in Austin, Texas and New York city. The reason we are not able to invest beyond these geographies is primarily that we’re not there enough to be able to work closely with the entrepreneurs that we back.
In terms of India and having a backend in India, many of the companies that we are invested in have engineering, product, customer success in India. It’s not a requirement that they have backend in India. They can have it anywhere. They can have the backend in Silicon Valley. The go-to market team has to be in the geographies that I mentioned.