The Secret of Accessing Early Stage Hot Deals with Nihal Mehta
About Nihal Mehta: “Nihal is the human Rolodex, thanks to the thousands of connections he has made with some of the world’s top companies and brands. He developed many of these connections over the past 20+ years while founding five different tech startups. Prior to founding Eniac, Nihal was the founding CEO of LocalResponse, where he grew revenues 2153% in three years and landed them on Inc. 5000’s Fastest Growing Companies. Nihal also was the founding CEO for buzzd, the first real-time mobile cityguide, and ipsh!, one of the first full-service mobile marketing agencies in 2001, which was acquired by Omnicom (NYSE: OMC) in 2005. Early in his career, Nihal honed his ability to spot top entrepreneurial talent by investing in Admob (acquired by Google), Swiftkey (acquired by Microsoft), Tapad (acquired by Telenor),
Tala, and Uber to name a few. Because of his experience both building and funding top technologies, he frequently guest lectures at business schools around the country on entrepreneurship and mobile marketing and is published in over 15 books and white papers on the subject. Outside of the office Nihal loves to spend time with his wife Reshma and is a big supporter of her non-profit Girls Who Code. Around town, you will usually see him with his sons Shaan and Sai and beagle-bulldog Stanley. Nihal is the life of the party, which is why he always spearheads Eniac events. Nihal graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a BA in Philosophy and a BSE in Computer Science."
Below are the She-VC topics we discussed:
VC is a very hard industry to prepare for. There is a norm that someone has to go to Ivy League school, have an engineering background, be a founder of a startup to be a successful VC. Tell us how your traditional journey helped you to be a very non-traditional GP who is very well known to be one of the most founder friendly in the industry.
What is your secret to be the human rolodex in the venture industry.
You invested in Uber, Admob (acquired by Google), Swiftkey (acquired by Microsoft), Tala, Tapad (acquired by Telenor), and Uber. Please share some of your learnings from the investments you made.
Many VCs offered to take steps to improve the lack of representation in their industry during the Black Lives Matter movement. You had 103 meetings with Black founders through Superpeer.
What was your experience and where do you think is the systemic problem when it comes to funding for black founders.
You are an early investor in Uber. Tell us your experience and learning from the Uber deal.
Let's talk about the valuation and your thought process on startup performance data. How do you analyze that during due diligence at such an early stage investment.
Most of our audiences are emerging and experienced fund managers. VC is a very relationship driven industry. Can you elaborate how an emerging fund manager can tap into market opportunities in an industry like this.
Venture Capital is one asset class which is also cyclical. The boom-bust cycle, appetite for high risk but it also has a lock up period for Limited Partners for as long as 15-20 years unlike hedge funds where LPs can redeem their capital out of market panic. For many of us we look at investment as permanent capital that protects from erratic market behavior and good investments need long term commitment. Liquidity has been an issue for LPs for a long time, in a time like this, how do you approach Liquidity position to your LPs?
It is said that venture capital is all about identifying patterns in time. Yet some of the bigger ideas are unpredictable and sometimes those investment decisions can be non-consensus among Partners. To invest in such unpredictable big ideas one has to learn and see things differently, analyze markets that others are finding it non-sexy to invest in. I think venture capital is not a job but it is a lifestyle. So how do you prepare yourself for such a lifestyle.
Have you acquired any learning habits during COVID19. Your wife is also a very successful entrepreneur of Girls Who Code, so how do you manage your work life balance?