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VC10X - VENTURE CAPITAL PODCAST

Venture Capitalists (VCs) & Angel Investors share their investing thesis, screening process, value-add, exits, and more. Hosted by Prashant Choubey (@ChoubeySahab)

  • venture-capital
  • edtech
  • united-states

Investing in Edtech & Future of Work - Atin Batra, General Partner, 27v

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Atin is the Founder & General Partner at Twenty Seven Ventures, a global VC Fund that invests in EdTech and Future of Work Startups. Investing at the earliest stages (Pre-Seed/Seed), Atin looks for outstanding Founders who are building big businesses - and are nice people leaving a net positive impact on our world.

We talk about:

  1. Atin's story & how he started investing?
  2. Importance of sales skill for founders & VC
  3. What makes 27v different?
  4. Founder fellowship program
  5. Investment Process at 27v
  6. Exciting portfolio companies
  7. Rapid fire

Atin's story & how he started investing?

All my life, been trying different things. I did go over to the dark side of corporate jobs, but didn't really enjoy that. And as an entrepreneur, I always had this idea of wanting to help other entrepreneurs, and the best way that I can do that is to be an investor.

And so about eight years ago, as I was transitioning out of my last failed venture, I had the opportunity to actually jump across the table and become an investor as part of a corporate accelerator. I just jumped at the opportunity, grabbed it in both hands, and have loved venture investing ever since.

So now I've been a venture investor for about eight years across three different firms, and the most recent being my own.

Importance of sales skill for founders & VC

I think the biggest similarity actually is to that point of us talking to doing our own fundraising is the idea of actually the sales skill, the skill of selling that's pervasive across both being a tech entrepreneur like a company founder as well as being an investor.

Because essentially every single time that you speak to anybody that is external to the company, you're trying to sell yourself as a founder. You're probably trying to sell your product to employees, to potential employees, to potential investors, to customers and so on.

It's the same thing with me as an investor. I'm trying to sell my firm and myself to our potential LPs, but also to the founders that we're backing because people have choice today. It's not like we're the only game in town, right?

Like somebody could just as easily raise money for someone else. So as a VC, we're also selling ourselves to our founders to get them to trust us and build that relationship.

It's one of those things I say very often, but the art of selling and storytelling is something that is required for every single thing that you do in your professional life, whether you're a founder or an employee at a corporate or a VC like me. So find a way to develop that.

What makes 27v different?

3 things. One is we invest at the earliest stage, please seed and seed got in a couple of CDs, but those are follow on. We've never really invested in anything that was beyond the seed at a first check.

The second thing that sets us apart is our sector focus. So we're focused, we're not generalists, we're very focused on certain sectors. There are two in particular that we do most of all of our investing in, which is education and future work. So etc. And future work are sectors of focus.

The third thing is that we're technically a global firm. Our mandate is to invest anywhere in the world except for China, India and Africa. All three of those have great local ecosystems. So I'm not going to actually try and understand the cultural nuances of that. But other than those three regions and ecosystems, I'm open to investing anywhere.

And that's exactly what it is our portfolio spans US, Canada, UK, Israel, Germany, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, New Zealand, all over the place. So that's what makes us different.

Founder fellowship program

Two things that sort of led to the founder fellowship. When I was an entrepreneur myself, so I really do understand what entrepreneurs go through, what founders go through. It's a very isolating job. When you start something of your own. Even if you have a co-founder, it still sort of puts you in this bubble where you're constantly thinking of an us versus them mentality. And so I always felt like it was valuable to have friends and family and support system around you. And that support system can be beyond friends and family. And so that's really what we're trying to create with the Founder Fellowship.

The second thing that sort of led to that formation was actually back when I started out as an investor and I was the head of this corporate accelerator. I came up with this idea of doing regular weekly check-ins with all of the companies in one room.

And I realized that just by putting everybody in the same room, there was a lot of cross collaboration and interplay that was happening that was super valuable to all of the founders. And so I took basically both of those things and created this Founder Fellowship at 27 V.

The idea being every single week I organize an event. So I've actually hosted, over the last three years, every single week, I personally hosted an event for the portfolio to get together at different formats, different topics, different speakers.

But the way that I think about it, it's an excuse for them to learn from each other in the moment, but also build those relationships so that when they do need help with a certain aspect, they know exactly who to reach out to.

We've got a slack community where people are always messaging each other, so there's always a way to approach that subject with somebody else.

Investment Process at 27v

I'm a sole GP, so it's easy for me to make decisions rush. So my process is somewhere between three to four weeks, all told, from first conversation to a decision.

The way that I run the process is every single week I'm trying to answer a specific set of questions, and usually it flows in this manner.

The first week is trying to understand the founder story, who you are, what's your background, why you're starting this particular company.

The second week is almost always about the product. So what is the product, who are the customers, what are your unit economics, those kinds of things.

The third one is to try and understand a little bit more about the market. And when I say market, what I'm trying to figure out is where your competitors, how do you fit in the trends that we're seeing in this particular space, and so on.

And then the fourth is sort of bringing all of that together and making a final decision. But one of the other things that I do, which I've had some good feedback on, is every single week, I try and do an email check-in, as in, at the end of the week, if somebody is applying and going through the process with us, at the end of the week, you'll get an email that says, I like what you're doing.

Let's move to the next week and we'll have another conversation. Or, I want to actually just stop this here. We'll pass because of X, Y and Z reasons. So try and make it as transparent for the founders as possible. So that's the process.

Exciting portfolio companies

I think listeners would appreciate hearing about Wethos, which is actually a company that is focused on freelancers and creators and actually helps them with financial resources. So that's one to keep an eye out on.

Another one that we invested in last year called Day One is another one that I would assume that your readers will appreciate.

Day One is actually a school for entrepreneurs, so they run virtual fellowships specifically focused on entrepreneurship, but not just tech entrepreneurship.

These could be any kinds of founders, so you could be the founder of a brick and mortar shop and they will be able to help you sort of do your job better. So that's Day One.

That's another one that I think definitely a lot of listeners of the podcast might want to dig into.

Rapid fire

Sectors & regions you invest in?

Education & future work. Regions- globally, except for China, India, and Africa, anything else is fair game.

What stage do you typically invest in?

Pre-seed & seed. Those are the only two stages we focus on.

What's the typical check size?

$100 to $150K.

Where can founders pitch you?

The easiest is to go to a website. There's a button that leads you to an Airtable form. That's the best way to apply.

Where can our listeners follow you?

Twitter is probably where I'm most active, I'm at @batraatin


27v website: https://www.27v.vc/

Atin's Twitter: https://twitter.com/batraatin

Hosted by Prashant Choubey

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