Sydney — Australia
What’s the most underappreciated skill in founders?
The ability to be the “dam”: to bear the force of all the good and bad things that are happening in the business at the same time, and to know what parts to release from which “valve” so that the “villages” below thrive and grow instead of drowning in a deluge.
What impresses you in the first meeting with an entrepreneur?
Clarity of vision is impressive; passion and resilience to achieve it is infectious; and when coupled with an understanding of, or an ability to learn, the steps required is a clincher.
What’s the next big opportunity in tech?
It’s a great time to be in tech. The word has gone from being associated with bespectacled, lab-coat-wearing boffins to mainstream. Tech is an integral part of how we experience the world today; soon to call something out as “tech” or “tech-enabled” will be superfluous verbiage. And there’s so much more to come. I’m excited by the paradigm shifts that will be enabled in the guts of computing by trends like quantum, all the way through to feats of magic in how we will experience the world through augmented and virtual reality.
What in your childhood made your career trajectory probable?
I’m still waiting for my career trajectory to kick in like the fabled “hockey-stick” that I see in pitch decks 50 times a week. I’m a first-generation migrant. English is my second language. My parents moved me and my brother out of India when we were very young with the hope of providing us with a better future, and in doing so left behind a very comfortable life and their own excellent career trajectories. Their actions made my career trajectory probable. I am restless every day to make sure that their sacrifice was worthwhile.
What industry jargon irritates you?
All of it, but especially the concept of “doing deals.” I don’t do deals, I invest. Doing a deal is transactional; an investment is the start of a long-term relationship.
What advice do you live by?
“When you’re on the motorway, you can’t overtake every car”.
What was the greatest lesson an early job taught you?
How you see yourself, how others see you and objective reality are three different things – and one of those things probably doesn’t even exist!
What don’t people know about working at Square Peg?
Everyone is probably having far too much fun.
What is similar between Square Peg staff and the founders you back?
As with the companies we back, Square Peg is a young business that wants to have a massive positive impact in the world. We need to have a vision and a strategy, nurture an outstanding team, maintain a special culture, deliver an outstanding service, have happy customers, and raise capital to grow. There is more in common than not.
Why Southeast Asia?
Spending time in SEA is one of the most exciting parts of my role. Timing has a more important role to play in success than most people attribute, and the timing in SEA feels phenomenal: populous, fast-growing, young and tech-savvy economies; an increasing number of excellent entrepreneurs hungry to make a change; and many societal problems to be overcome. But it’s also a heterogeneous market with many challenges to scaling: Singapore is very different to Thailand, and even Jakarta is very different from the rest of Indonesia. Nothing ventured, nothing gained though, right? :)