Responding to a popular request, we are now sharing transcripts of our investor podcast interviews in this new series. The following interview with Nihal Mehta was recorded in November 2018.
Nihal Mehta, Founding General Partner at ENIAC Ventures, provides a great set of insights into his definition of a full-stack founding team. Either a set of co-founders who cover all the requisite skillsets, or a solo founder who is a full-stack person – both configurations can work. Listen to the discussion for more color on the topic.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s get you acquainted with our audience. Tell us about yourself and ENIAC Ventures. Give us a little bit of context.
Nihal Mehta: I’ve been an entrepreneur my whole career. I started in 1998. I’ve started five startups and invested in almost 200. Two-thirds of the 200 startups are through a venture fund that we started about nine years ago called ENIAC Ventures. The startups that I founded and ran were mostly in the mobile software space – mobile marketing and mobile advertising – selling into the Fortune 1000. These are large brands. A number of them were acquired. A number of them failed. Obviously, you learn the most from the failures.
As investors, we say we have a lot of scar tissue and muscle memory that makes us more empathetic to founders. For better or worse, we still feel like we are founders when we invest in a company. We tell our founders that they now have a co-founder.
Sramana Mitra: Tell us a bit about ENIAC Ventures. What is the investing focus? Where do you operate out of? How big is the fund? What sized checks do you like to write?
Nihal Mehta: We’re operating out of our fourth fund. We’re a third of the way through it. It’s a $100 million fund. A lot of the companies I founded were in the mobile software space. I met my three partners as engineers in undergrad at the University of Pennsylvania over 20 years ago. They all had similar experiences founding and operating companies in the mobile software space.
The focus of the first fund was in and around mobile. Historically, about half of our portfolio is enterprise and half is consumer. With fund four, we are very deliberate about expanding the strategy. The mobile internet is now the internet. Mobile is completely ubiquitous. While a lot of the companies we do invest in have mobile components or mobile only, we’re looking for investing broadly.
We’re very focused on stage. We’re seed stage. Our job is to write a million to a million and a half check and really help the company get to a great Series A. We have, according to third-party publications, one of the best records in getting companies from seed to A. We’re very proud of that. That goes back to acting like co-founders of our investments.