Get To Know the VC – Ramesh Radhakrishnan
As part of our “Get To Know the VC” blog series, Artiman partner, Ramesh Radhakrishnan, answered a few questions. Here’s what he had to say:
1. Did you ever start a company yourself? If so, what is the most important thing you’ve learned from this experience?
I was part of the founding team in four Silicon Valley companies: Zeitnet, Clarity Wireless Airgo and FireEye. The most important thing I learned was that you just have to “do it”, forget about the outcome and enjoy every day of the journey. Of course, there are many, many ups and downs on the journey but every day you are looking forward to filling out the next piece of the puzzle. As a founder, you have to be committed to the idea. The path to realization may change in many different and unanticipated ways but unlike an employee who can change ships midstream, the founder has to be the ship itself for the entire journey.
2. What company would you start today?
Spaces that are really exciting to me are education and application of machine learning in areas like agriculture, finance and security. Basically, areas that are going to get disrupted dramatically. For example, let’s take the case of education. The scale of the internet, cloud computing, mobile device access to anything, anywhere, virtual reality and high-speed connectivity are all technologies that can make content come alive. I am just amazed at how much clearer concepts are presented today in simple YouTube videos. Just like the internet spawned a phenomenal spate of companies in social, media and search, this next generation of technology is going to make knowledge available, much easier to comprehend, digest and localized and this democratization of knowledge is going to be the catalyst for innovation across the globe. The days of standardized tests and high priced private education will be over. So something in education which makes content appealing in an affordable way to everyone in the world excites me.
3. Why white space investments are so interesting in your eyes?
White space is a combination of three things for us: a unique technology, a market opportunity and a disruptive solution to the existing status quo. First is the satisfaction you get from having your investment hypothesis validated by the market. Secondly, white spaces typically are complex problems both in terms of technology and business strategy. This complexity offers us the chance to interact with the best in the field – entrepreneurs, technologists, business development geniuses. Thirdly, white space can often time be simply achieved by taking proven technologies in one sector and applying it in another. The results can be both surprising and extremely profitable. Fourthly, it gives me a great opportunity to really understand the market we are going after : how big can the business be, how big is the problem, who is the customer here , how do you get the product to market, what channels , volumes, margins, and most importantly, what kind of talent comprises this world class company. The last point gives me a vehicle to meet leaders in this field and others who just think differently.
4. What columns/blogs do you read?
CB insights, business insider, mint, economic times. But really, in today’s world, the cloud pushes things to me through all kinds of channels. I don’t necessarily have to sign up to any specific thing. So I don’t keep track of any specific channel. There are apps that collate the information based on my past reading habits and interest. Mostly though, I rely on conversations with people to understand the details of what is going on. Fellow VCs, entrepreneurs, both struggling and established, some meeting grounds like conferences, incubators…
5. What have you personally invested in?
Only my own education and growth 🙂
6. Do you think bitcoin or other cryptocurrency has a chance to become a substantial piece in the world’s capital reserves?
Yes. I do. I believe that while today’s climate is one of trade barriers and protectionism, it is a kind of a last hurrah before the barriers all come crashing down. All the governments and the institutions that work behind the scenes have to gear up for this eventual future. It’s hard to predict which particular set of cryptocurrencies will dominate, but it’s inevitable that the technology that underlies it and the economic framework it produces is the wave of the future. In any new, disruptive movement, there are always 3 phases: phase 1 is when the technology is immature but hyperbole is high. There are a few experiments and high expectations with bubbles being created and then it doesn’t deliver. So it comes crashing down – lots of startups shut shop, valuations get lowered, there is disinterest, both investors and entrepreneurs move away from this space. This is phase 2 and the time when real work gets done – unnecessary stuff is thrown away, key concepts are fine-tuned, the diehards remain in the field and out of this emerges Phase 3 when it’s the time the technology and market are in sync – the economics works and the buzz starts again. Examples of all of this can be clearly seen in Internet, Cloud, Social technologies. It’s the same with cryptocurrency and bitcoin. We are now in Phase 2. Eventually, a phase 3 will arrive and we had better be ready for it.
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