Sramana Mitra: What kinds of ventures do you think you add the most value to and, hence, what are you looking to invest in?
Ashish Jain: We are a technology firm. We are lovers of technology. We invest in three broad descriptive areas. One is exceptional founders and companies related to the future of work.
As we know, the workforce is changing all the way from HR practices and coaching. We are investing a lot in the future of work. The second one is around industry 4.0. That’s a white space. Industrial IoT is part of it. Also, supply chain, logistics, digitization, automation.
The third one is AI-enabled enterprises. All the way from automating workflows, personalization, to improving experience. These are the three broad areas. We are really vertical agnostic but we don’t go to verticals we don’t understand.
Sramana Mitra: Talk about a few of your investments. Maybe do a couple of case studies. Specifically what I’m looking to do is have you talk about the investments and specifically when you encountered them, what did they have? What was it about these companies that attracted you to pull the trigger?
Ashish Jain: I’ll go over our three recent investments. The first one is Soar. That’s part of our future of work. The company provides AI-enabled coaching and mentoring. The work the company is doing is based on very foundational and fundamental work which happened in organizational psychology based on finding individual strengths and trying to complement a program.
The founder is a repeat entrepreneur. He was the founder of Familylinks. Now he’s building a world-class team of advisors to allow people to assess their strengths and then using AI and content to provide them with 24/7 learning environment. We try to get ahead of the deal flow.
The founder Paul connected to our LP network with us. He wanted to build a very special company with a very special capital structure. We were very flexible about that. That’s one of the reasons why we could connect with Paul.
Sramana Mitra: What is special about the capital structure?
Ashish Jain: There is a trend towards bigger and bigger funds. Paul was very concerned about protecting early investors. We believe in him. He created class structures that we were very comfortable with. We believe in the team. We are very happy with the kind of class structures he created.
Sramana Mitra: In this case, did this come with a half a million dollar revenue that you looked for?
Ashish Jain: I don’t know the exact number, but they had a lot of traction. They are continuing to work with some of the largest training and coaching platform services companies.
Sramana Mitra: What is the trend that you’re seeing? In this case, you have a serial entrepreneur who has had two exits. Presumably, he has money. Is this founder bootstrapping with his own money to that extent and then raising money?
Ashish Jain: Paul bootstrapped quite a bit. He was looking for like-minded investors. We see tremendous value as the workforce gets more diverse and more geographically distributed, and the human resource practices really adapt to cater to such a workforce.
Sramana Mitra: Where is the company based?
Ashish Jain: Most of the key employees are based out of Utah.
Sramana Mitra: Utah is producing a lot of very good companies. Utah has an excellent culture of bootstrapping. We have seen a lot of successes out of Utah.
Ashish Jain: We are seeing exactly the same thing.
Sramana Mitra: That’s a good thing. Silicon Valley has become so expensive. You can’t really hire a lot of people in Silicon Valley anymore.