I learned a lot from my father. He was an electrical engineer who emigrated from India to the US. He was a natural engineer; incredibly curious, constantly thinking of better ways to solve problems, and always juggling a ton of side projects. When I was in grade school he quit his corporate job and became a full-time entrepreneur. I witnessed all of his successes and setbacks as a founder. Seeing his transformation from engineer to entrepreneur gave me a deep appreciation for what it means to step off the safe path to build something new.
The most valuable career training I ever received was spending two summers as an inside sales rep for a software company. It wasn’t glamorous, but I couldn’t have asked for a better onramp to the professional world. I’ll never forget what I learned about communicating clearly, handling rejection, and persevering. I maintain a deep respect for anyone who makes cold calls for a living.
I was a venture capitalist for fourteen years before I founded Amplify. That period of time was critical to developing my philosophy of how best to support founders. It also crystallized my belief that early-stage venture capital should be rooted in focus, domain expertise, and a willingness to take risk.
Founding Amplify taught me more about startups than all of my years as an investor. Transforming an idea into a business was hard, but I never doubted the need for what I was trying to do, and therefore I never doubted it would succeed.
Early stage investing is about supporting a founder’s vision above all else. My greatest successes have come when an entrepreneur realizes their vision, not mine.
I get tremendous energy from helping companies go from zero to one. Believing in an idea, helping it take shape, and then seeing it manifest in products, customers, and employees is magical.
I’ve worked through countless crises over my twenty years of venture investing. Each one has taught me a lesson that helps avoid future mistakes, but collectively they help me remain steady when the going gets tough.
I’m a big believer in “founder-market fit.” I seek out entrepreneurs who have a deep understanding of their problem space. First-hand insights typically inspire the clearest vision of a solution.
A big part of my role is to help entrepreneurs ask the right questions. I’m far more valuable if I can help a founder discover the right answers on their own rather than simply providing them the answer. That’s the essence of learning and improving.
Startups are powered by belief, and I have to be my founders’ deepest believer. It’s what binds us together through all the ups and downs of building a company.
When I’m not working with entrepreneurs, I spend time with my wife and three children or rooting for the Boston Red Sox and Georgetown Hoyas. I’m happiest when I’m on the water, whether that’s a pool, a lake, or the ocean.