Venktesh Shukla is General Partner at Monta Vista Capital. I have known Venk for more than 20 years, and we discussed both industry trends and his fund strategy.
Sramana Mitra: Venk and I have known each other for a very long time. It’s a real pleasure to have you back here, Venk. We last had you over at this forum when you were just about launching Monta Vista Capital. You were still running TiE Angels.
Venktesh Shukla: Last time when we talked, I was no longer leading TiE Angels and I’d started Monta Vista Capital. Those were the early days.
Sramana Mitra: Tell us a bit about what has happened and how have you been evolving Monta Vista Capital. What are the learnings? Where are you now in your thinking?
Venktesh Shukla: It’s been a really interesting journey. A couple of things got validated. One is that if I hang around people my age, people will talk about health, children, or complain about Trump.
With entrepreneurs, you’re meeting the most optimistic people in the world. Some of them are irrationally optimistic, but it doesn’t matter. The enthusiasm that they have rubs off on you.
The second thing that I like about being a VC is that everyone that comes to us is an expert in some area. They patiently teach you what they know. I find that if you’re intellectually curious, this is the fastest way of learning about a whole lot of things in the world. I found that to be a very enlightening part of being a VC.
The third one is that I add value. I’ve been a serial entrepreneur, and I’ve been involved in so many different companies. It does give some perspective that entrepreneurs find very helpful. Sometimes you take what you know for granted. Only when you interact with others is when you find that value. You realize that you are adding some value. That has been a very interesting part of the journey.
The fourth is that it teaches you humility. You think that when you invest in something, you’re investing with conviction. What happens to the company over the years is very hard for a VC to really predict. It’s like a six-digit lottery number. As an experienced VC, you probably know one or two digits. The other four are still a mystery. Each time is a unique and novel experience.
Sramana Mitra: I echo a lot with what you’re saying. It’s been an incredible learning experience for me too. On a weekly basis, we get an opportunity to work with so many companies from so many different market segments.
We have the media side of One Million by One Million where we also learn from entrepreneurs and what they’re doing. That is probably one of my favorite parts of my journey – the structure that I have in One Million by One Million that exposes me to so much.