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1Mby1M Virtual Accelerator Investor Forum: With Suman Talukdar, Founder and Managing Partner at AiSprouts.VC (Part 1)

Posted on Monday, Feb 15th 2021
Profile photo of Suman Talukdar

Responding to a popular request, we are now sharing transcripts of our investor podcast interviews in this new series. The following interview with Suman Talukdar, Founder and Managing Partner at AiSprouts.VC, was recorded in October 2020.

Suman Talukdar is Founder and Managing Partner at AiSprouts.VC.

Sramana Mitra: Tell us a little about your background as well as AiSprouts.

Suman Talukdar: I’m a single GP, founder, and managing partner at AiSprouts. We are a $10 million pre-seed fund that is focused on machine learning ventures. We are particularly interested in those coming out of Silicon Valley. We look for great founders that have amazing ideas with strong product traction.

Our mission is to back the next generation of breakthrough companies that we think are going to have a huge impact on the world. We participate in rounds with other venture funds in the area. We are typically writing checks in the range of $100,000 to $500,000.

Now, I’ll tell you my story in terms of how I got here. A lot of people don’t know this about me, but I’m Latin American by birth. I was born in Venezuela, but I’m Indian by descent. My parents are from the Eastern part of India near Assam. My parents went to school in Calcutta. He then moved to Venezuela to be a professor in the late 70’s. Venezuela during this time was this utopian Latin America that was getting started. I grew up there and then we moved to the States when I was a teenager.

I’ve always had a multicultural exposure. I grew up in Houston, Texas. It was a wonderful place to grow up. I did very well in high school there. I like to mention that because I moved to a new community and was able to thrive there regardless of this politically and racially charged US environment that we live in. I graduated first in my class.

I moved to Rice University to get my computer engineering degree there. That was in the late 90’s when the internet was just happening. I was reading a lot of Wired magazine articles online, and I decided that I wanted to move to Silicon Valley to see what this whole place was all about. I have been here for 20 years. I have had an amazing number of experiences and have been fortunate to meet tons of people. 

Sramana Mitra: What was your professional background in Silicon Valley? What track did you follow?

Suman Talukdar: When I got here, I was an engineer. One of my first bosses went on to become part of the founding team of Siri. I did a bunch of AI stuff there. I was an engineer product manager for a while. I left the Valley for a couple of years to get my MBA at Harvard.

I came back between 2009 and 2010. I became the first business hire for any venture-backed company. For the last ten years, I took on that role. I have five back-to-back exits. It worked out for me. Two of those companies went public.

I took on a lot of roles. I did everything from getting founders their first customer to helping partnerships and defining the strategy. This was anything that a well-rounded executive would do. I learned a lot about what makes companies successful – not just what makes an idea work but what characteristics and traits help create these breakout companies.

I was at a stage in my life where I had the means, interest, and the network. I started to get involved with my friend’s companies in an advisory capacity. I started to make small angel investments and that is what led me to where I am today. Some of those things ended up working out. People got to know me and my network.

Late last year, I had the opportunity to pull some people together and formalize a fund. This was pre-COVID. I launched AiSprouts late last year with some capital. The positive thing about that is because of the environment, I was in a position to invest. 

This segment is part 1 in the series : 1Mby1M Virtual Accelerator Investor Forum: With Suman Talukdar, Founder and Managing Partner at AiSprouts.VC
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