Like any good Asian American student, Somesh began his journey in Cal as a pre-med student. He shares how Haas gave him an opportunity that most immigrants aspire for their children. He was very proud of how he is the first of his family to attend an undergraduate institution “I went to Cal for my undergrad. And, for me, I was the first person in my family to go to a U.S. undergraduate institution. My parents had come to the U.S. to do graduate school. But that was a new experience.”
He recalls his experience from their migration from Canada to the U.S. and how his Indian heritage and American upbringing give him a complete and open perspective in the different aspects of life.
A Mishmash of Culture
Somesh shared what he loves most about the U.S. and the Indian Culture. “I always embraced my Indian-American background. I would be watching Bollywood movies and listening to Indian music and Bhangra. But, I also grew up a diehard, Warriors and Knights fan. I listen to hip hop and rock. I think Indian culture is pretty multicultural”
In his view, most countries see the U.S.’s military power, but they do not recognize the U.S.’s global influence through its culture or “soft power.” According to Somesh, this is what fuels the American Dream and that of immigrants.
He believes that racism and immigration are not discussed or debated enough. Back when he was California’s governor, President Reagan’s team did some groundbreaking work. When Silicon Valley was still producing silicone, the former president’s team wrote about venture capital as a source of economic growth and recognized the roles of immigrants. Reagan was a leading advocate for the reforms that led to the creation of this industry. Like many immigrants, Somesh has built a great career and life in venture capital. So what are his key takeaways to build an amazing relationship between investors and founders?
3 Tips for a Better Investor-Founder Relationship
Somesh recalls his many encounters with the renowned John Doerr. Founders often focus on a whole pitch with a lot of details. According to him, the best skill a founder can learn from John is how to tell the story of what the company will be like in 30 seconds. Apart from telling a great story, he shares that:
- More than the numbers Investors should always look beyond numbers. Because oftentimes there are things that numbers don’t tell you.
- Listen with an open mind and welcome change. It’s crucial for CEOs to listen to the advice of their board.
- Last but definitely not least, listen to the market.
And he did listen to the market. Somesh knows how important overall wellbeing is. His recent investments include Thrive Global and Lira, new technology in the mental health space.
Making Better Workplaces, One App at a Time
He shares how mental health is often a taboo topic in many immigrant households. “I think coming from immigrant families, it’s not something you talk about with your parents. It’s not something that’s encouraged in your diaspora. Your community, therapy was not viewed positively.” So when he experienced some mental health issues, he began looking at it from the perspective of an investor.
Today he has 2 interests in the mental health space. Thrive Global was started by Arianna Huffington. Her journey started when she realized how sleeplessness and overwork are idealized among entrepreneurs. This leads to overtime negative consequences and bad decision-making Somesh’s fascination leads him to invest in a SAAS solution that sells to large enterprises, the mental health dashboard.
Just before the pandemic, he invested in a company called Lira Health. The company’s model is actually to provide, a marketplace of therapists, to employees of large enterprises. It had incredible growth during the pandemic, especially with the number of companies whose insurance does not cover theraphy. So, they found that a lot of employees from big companies needed help in connecting with one.
Coming Full Circle
While his journey might have some reroutes and detours, Somesh made sure he brings the wealth of his experience to push himself to what the market needs to help improve lives. He does this by not forgetting his origins and roots, but most especially by welcoming new cultures.
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