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From Investment Banking to Diversifying the Venture Capital World

Rupa Ganatra Popat

Araya Ventures

Powered By:

hsbcinnovationbanking logo

From Investment Banking to Diversifying the Venture Capital World

Rupa Ganatra Popat


Araya Ventures

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Rupa Ganatra Popat Araya Ventures
Full transcript here

About Rupa Ganatra Popat

Episode 136: Amardeep Parmar from The BAE HQ  welcomes Rupa Ganatra Popat, Founder & Managing Partner at Araya Ventures.

Rupa discusses her transition from investment banking to venture capital, emphasising the impact of diverse investments on profitability and highlighting her journey of self-discovery and entrepreneurial ventures. Amardeep explores Rupa’s motivations and experiences, focusing on the challenges and insights gained from her shifts in career and investment strategies.

Learn more about the ĀVA angel investing course.

Rupa Ganatra Popat

Araya Ventures

Show Notes

00:00 - Intro 

01:25 - Rupa reflects on childhood and career start.

02:36 - Rupa explains her prolonged stay in banking.

04:08 - Challenges and decisions around Rupa's resignation.

05:06 - Rupa shares her banking career enjoyment.

06:23 - Rupa's post-banking entrepreneurial ventures.

08:54 - Adjusting to independent work and business establishment.

10:53 - Skills from banking aiding Rupa's entrepreneurial efforts.

13:33 - Expansion of Rupa's business ventures and personal changes.

18:00 - Rupa discusses failure, success, and emotional journeys.

22:18 - Rupa transitions into venture capital focusing on diversity.

25:26 - Rupa details her role in VC, emphasising diversity.

32:06 - Future goals and broader impact of Rupa's work.

Headline partner message

From the first time founders to the funds that back them, innovation needs different. HSBC Innovation Banking is proud to accelerate growth for tech and life science businesses, creating meaningful connections and opening up a world of opportunity for entrepreneurs and investors alike. Discover more at https://www.hsbcinnovationbanking.com/

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Rupa Ganatra Popat Full Transcript

Rupa Ganatra Popat: 0:00

I saw recently in Harvard Business Review, which was that every time you add a female partner to a VC fund, you get 9.7% more profitable exits and an increased annual return. The capital has stayed in the hands of a small group of people for a very long time. There is phenomenal opportunity for diversified investors to add value into the ecosystem but also drive outsized returns. If I think about, my bigger mission is to have more diversified investors in the ecosystems.

Amardeep Parmar: 0:31

Today on the podcast, we have Rupa Popat, who's the founding partner of Araya Ventures, who are backing exceptional founders through their VC firm. Rupa's got a really interesting journey, having grown up around entrepreneurship but then gone into investment banking and been in there 10 years, while the whole time she was enjoying what she was doing but also wanted to do some kind of herself and having this interplay of what do I do and when do I do it. She then eventually left her job, tried out multiple different things, experimented before finding that something which was almost a side project to begin with really took off and was able to grow that across the world and was able to exit that to a company listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. She's now in the third phase of what she calls of her career, where she's looking to back exceptional founders in different ways, both through investing and also training up other investors. We hope you enjoy this episode.

Amardeep Parmar: 1:25

I'm Amar from the BAE HQ and this podcast is powered by HSBC Innovation Banking. Rupa, great to get you on today. Thanks so much for being here. I want to know when you were growing up, what did you want to be? Like what was your childhood like?

Rupa Ganatra Popat: 1:40

Thanks for having me first of all. So when I was growing up, I grew up with a father who was an entrepreneur and a mother who stayed at home to take care of us. My father was involved in, like the Pizza Express franchises and property in the really early stages, came here from East Africa, started with nothing and they, you know, together my parents built up to what they did. And so I actually grew up around entrepreneurship. I actually grew up where we would discuss from a young age we'd hear about business ideas, we'd be part of the business, that we'd go along with my parents and things like that, to that space. And so probably from the earliest point I can remember, I wanted to have my own business as well. Because I wanted to, I basically wanted to like that was my role model or what I had looked up to. So yeah, but then obviously my career took a turn and ended up in investment banking, um, for quite a while, and so.

Amardeep Parmar: 2:34

Why did that turn happen? Why did you go into investment banking?

Rupa Ganatra Popat: 2:36

Yeah. So the truth is I was doing an internship in New York in the first year of university summer and I had a lot of friends on like the Goldman's and the Citi investment banking grad programs and I was like, wow, this looks amazing. And I was also studying economics at the time because I didn't really know what I wanted to study.

Amardeep Parmar:

That's what I did as well.

Rupa Ganatra Popat: 2:56

Yeah, it's like the good. Basically, if you're not doing math, biology, chemistry, then I'm going into like pharmacy, dentistry or medicine, then the other kind of Indian path at the time was to like do maths, economics and something else and French or politics, and then end up in an economics degree. So I did that and so I was doing this internship and I was like, wow, this looks amazing. And so I literally came back and then started applying to all of the investment banks for the second year internships and and then I got onto the graduate program of RBC. But my goal was always to stay two years in investment banking, set up this foundation.

Amardeep Parmar:

I've heard that before.

Rupa Ganatra Popat:

Had a great time and then it felt like every time I wanted to leave, like something came up and so, yeah, so when I turned 24, I got made vice president at the bank and I was like, oh, I can't leave now. This is an amazing title to be given at this point in my career. And then again it happened when I got made director and then, just as I was trying to leave in like 2011, telling my age now, I got offered a promotion to become head of the Middle East team. And so at every stage there was like this, like you know kind of little bit, offered these, you know kind of thing to like be like, oh, I've got to stay for that, got to stay for that.

Rupa Ganatra Popat: 4:08

And obviously, as you know, back then, with bonuses and things like that, it just got harder and harder every year and I used to sometimes carry my resignation letter in for like two weeks at a time in my bag and then just like return. But in 2012, I finally took the plunge and I did actually resign and I was kind of got to the stage of where I was like turning 30. I was like single. All the things that I'd been told a good Indian girl does. By that point I hadn't ticked any of those boxes and I just thought well, the one thing I can control in my life is that I always wanted to start my own thing. So like, if I don't leave now, now, like will I regret it in 10 more years time? And so then that's what kind of propelled me to get out of the industry.

Amardeep Parmar: 4:49

So you obviously said that you're obviously doing very well in your career, but at the same time, you always seem to want to leave as well. How was that dynamic like internally right of just? Was it just keeping you there just because of the new job title and the new money, and was it almost a golden handcuff? So what stopped you from just being like, yeah, this is it.

Rupa Ganatra Popat: 5:06

Yeah so it's interesting you said that. So actually I really loved my career as well and I really loved what I did. I was given so much responsibility early on, like you know, within a year of joining, on the trading floor, I was, like you know, doing stuff that you wouldn't normally get to do at the age of 22, 23, and I was like flying to Miami to deliver presentations and then off to Hong Kong in the Middle East and so on, and it was literally the most exciting career. So to say that it was just about money and titles would be like probably not right, but at the same time there were every time it was like a close time. You know, it was easy to. There was always a reason not to.

Rupa Ganatra Popat: 5:43

I think the other thing is is that I got really comfortable because it was such a like warming place to like to have a career and I loved like the fact that it was linear and because, you know, for someone like me and you know, coming at it from kind of, I guess, coming from parents who moved here from East Africa in the 70s and so on, there was this kind of validation of like I became, like my success was also my family's success and my parents success and so, um, I guess, like in that process, it was like, as I was, you know, doing, that I felt validated and successful and these sorts of things. So those sorts of things also mattered to me at the time and so I think that was also that as well. That kept me kind of uh going.

Amardeep Parmar: 6:24

It's really interesting the interplay, because there's so many pros and cons. At each stage. It looks like you said like you enjoyed it, but you also wanted to do something by yourself. And then you had the family background as well being able to, like, showcase that and also, I guess, having your parents very proud of you for what you're doing, too right. And when it came to quitting your job right, did you have the idea of what you wanted to do afterwards? Or is it more like you're going to quit and then decide? What was your mindset at that time?

Rupa Ganatra Popat: 6:47

So the idea was actually over the years leading up to me leaving was that I was going to work on business ideas in my spare time and over the weekends and then when I found something and got it to a certain stage and it needed more of my time, I would leave my job. And that was like the ideal situation. There was a couple of flaws with that, so one was that I would start something. So, for example, when Birchbox if you know Birchbox, the subscription business in the US launched the UK needs something like that I spent the whole weekend doing a financial model. I went to see cousins who are in that industry with their own businesses and I started to put, like you know, I think with my brother even, we started to put this plan together, and so I used to do a lot of those where, if I actually go back through all the business ideas I had and things like that, I would do a lot of research and a lot of putting things together, but I never then would get pulled back in and be traveling for work or doing something and it was easy to say, well, I have this career, so actually I've had to put that to the side for now, and then it would be too late at some point because someone else came and did that, literally, that was able to move a lot quicker, within like six months in that particular instance. So I did used to work on a lot of stuff. I think the second thing is is that I didn't really have maybe the network of other entrepreneurs to share ideas with the kind of things that I was thinking about, which is very different from the kind of traditional, I guess generation above, which was real estate based and kind of very bricks and mortar business based. And so I think that was the other thing that I was probably lacking is maybe enough people to like, bounce off, to share, to learn, so on. So eventually, um, when I turned 30, I was like, well, if I don't leave, I'm not gonna go, I'm not, I'm never gonna do it if I don't do it now. So I'm gonna have to just take a plunge. But what I did is, um, the most that I could do was make sure that, you know, I had a good like one and a half year, two year runway, um, where it wouldn't matter, like if I was was not earning any income at that point. Um, and so when I left. I basically that's how I kind of focused on and then I immersed myself into the ecosystem.

Rupa Ganatra Popat: 8:54

Um, I remember I just I was at the time I was living in Malibu and had a spare room in my apartment and I built a study, I went out to buy a desk and I was so excited. But when I sat there on the first day I was like, oh my God, I couldn't concentrate because I had spent eight and a half years on a trading floor with 400 people where people next to you are shouting out to, like you know, sales, trading, etc. And I realized that I just couldn't concentrate there and I was like, oh dear, now what do I do? And I remember, like so vividly going, what have I done? Like, and I remember my mum calling me, saying, Rupa, you know, your boss really liked you. Why don't you give her a call? I'm sure she'll take you back.

Rupa Ganatra Popat: 9:40

And I was like mum, it's only been like a week, it's a bit too early. I was like mum, it's only been like a week, it's a bit too early. But I think, like the big thing there is, I got some advice that actually get ready as if you're going to work even though you have absolutely nothing to do at that moment in time and get out of the house. So you get ready, get out of the house and go somewhere, and so home house is actually where I went and that became my space where I turn up every morning with my laptop, have my meetings, and that's how everything really began.

Amardeep Parmar: 10:09

I think it's interesting there because I have exactly the same thing. I can't work from home because I can't work near a bed. I would just nap too much. Because there's a lot of thinking involved in decision-making. It's quite stressful. So you're like, oh, I'll just rest my head for five minutes. Until I was late. Then I wake up really confused and I think it's different personalities. I need to be out of the house and to have a separate space where I can just concentrate on it. I always want that separation. I know a lot of entrepreneurs are very different. A lot of them are happy to work at home and live at home and have everything there, but I like that separation too. You also mentioned about for the ideas you had before by doing the financial modelling and things like that. So do you think your career at RBC really helped you with those skills that you would then need as an entrepreneur?  What did you learn from that career that you think really helped you in the future?

Rupa Ganatra Popat: 10:53

So I was in the derivatives area of the business and I was basically structuring investment products into family offices, wealth management, but from the investment bank side. I would say that the skills I did get was around sales, capital raising, building relationships with investors and customers and clients, and part of that actually is that I had so many role models. So if you look at, I was on a, you know I was the first such a woman to join the sales team, but as a sales team of like there was like 10, 12 guys in it and we were covering the whole of Europe and Middle East and when I joined that everyone had a different style and I got to kind of role model and kind of what I love about role models is you pick a little bit from everywhere and you create your own version of you. And so I got to see different styles and different approaches and got to learn from a lot of different people and I think that was really valuable.

Rupa Ganatra Popat: 11:48

I'd say, on the financial model side, completely less so.

Rupa Ganatra Popat: 11:51

So that was more like tapping into, just like other kind of skill sets or like kind of teaching myself how to do it, because there was less of that, but definitely from a relationship side, from a how to build out a narrative of an investment, all of those sorts of things definitely came, I think, from that space and also I got exposed to so so many things so early on.

Rupa Ganatra Popat: 12:14

Like you know, I was just catching up the other day with um, a former boss of mine and um, you know he, when he was actually leaving the bank he had I was in Hong Kong and he said could you be in Miami on Monday morning. I was meant to give his presentation. I can't make it. I was like 22, getting on a plane all the way from Hong Kong with a stopover over to Miami, with the pesentation of something and I was like, what is this? nI was like literally freaking out and got there, and like there was like a drink reception and I was like I can't go. I just  need to study this presentation. What am I talking about? Tomorrow night, repeat the presentation a few times and the next day at this conference and just thrown to the deep end like that and just being able to fly with it and actually managing to deliver um, and I think also my public speaking presentation style began there and it was a very kind of nervous style there to compare to like where I am today. But I definitely think it was the beginning of that.

Amardeep Parmar: 13:04

So I think it's cool that you mentioned that at the end there about being nervous at the beginning because, like even sitting across the table from now and every time I met you, you've got this aura about you. You've got the confidence and charisma and it's always interesting for people to see that you weren't always like that because then, but you also did throw yourself in the deep end where you're working for yourself now and you've got to work out okay, what am I going to build? So what were the first steps you took? Like, how did you start the company you eventually started?

Rupa Ganatra Popat: 13:33

So where I was and I think things. I do think the ecosystem is very different today. So I would actually, there's so many ways where, if you have an idea, or even if you don't have an idea, you can join programs, you can join accelerators, you can go and do that. So had that all been around, then I definitely would have done that, I think today. Back then sorry, it was just start, I just started and I started just trying different things. And then I would like go out to these kind of networking events and so on and chat to other people about what I was doing and all these sorts of things. And so it was really at that time about just seeing what I think might work. And so the first business I built was a digital media business. It still exists today, but it was it. Basically, I sold it for what we put into it. It wasn't really, you know, but the learnings from it. Like, I built a following of, you know, 50,000 Twitter followers and I don't even remember how many Instagram followers at the time, but it really taught me so much about content and community and ecosystem. So I always feel like when you're on the way and you're doing these things, you're like I don't know how I'm doing this or why, but when you look back at the end of it, you can always connect the dots back because it'd be like that's what. That's why that happened, because that's what I needed to learn, which fed into what I did next and what I did next. And so then the next thing I built, I started an e-commerce business, and that was the first time I ever, as a tech founder, went out to go and fundraise, and it was just a very, very interesting experience. But I built that again, built organically a 30,000 Instagram follower. I actually had you know, today, when you hear about influencers being paid, it was the other way around. I would have influencers pitching back then, because this is like 2013, it was the beginning. So we'd have influencer pitching to us saying could we please be your product brand, um, collaborator and stuff, um. And we came out. It was a DT. It became e-commerce and then went into DTC as well. Um, eventually, because that's where we saw the real margin opportunity.

Rupa Ganatra Popat: 15:28

It was quite challenging to fundraise at that point, and so, at the same time, I was realizing that there was a lot to learn in building this business, and so I got together with another entrepreneur a banker turned entrepreneur and we launched our first conference and we brought basically Google Facebook everyone along in 2014. And the idea was I still remember it today it was like at the Mayfair Hotel and people always laugh because even my parents paid for the tickets. We didn't give one ticket away at this 300 people conference, but we, the idea was, is that for entrepreneurs like me in e-com and DTC, we wanted to learn about what the future way forward is, and so, by bringing all these amazing kind of speakers together, we'd had a one-day conference and we were like we didn't know what we were going to do afterwards. It was just organic, right. And then we had, like I think, one of the C-suites of Gucci and a bunch of other people come up to us and go, wow, so what's next? What can we do together next? That was amazing, loved it, and we were like, oh okay, all right. So all of a sudden, what have you got? You've got created a product that people really want, and so we kind of built out from there and then, for you know, over time, we scaled that business into um, what was millennial 2020? And became future group um, and so it was. It was very organic and at the same time I was like, oh my god, this business makes profit from day one.

Rupa Ganatra Popat: 16:43

And then I've got this business that you know is really difficult, really difficult to fundraise, hadn't met any kind of, I guess, female investors along the way and I just thought, do you know what? Like it'd been I think two and a half years or two years out of banking at that point and I thought, you know, I really just want to build something that actually like, is a really, really wanted. You could just see the demand for it. You could see the feedback. You've got Facebook asking you what should we do next? Come in, let's do more of these. Should we go to other countries? You've got, like you know, amazing consulting firms and FMCG businesses going. We want to send, like you know, 50 to 100 of our people to get trained in this stuff with you guys and stuff.

Rupa Ganatra Popat: 17:19

And all of a sudden you were like, okay, well, this is the beginning of a media business and that almost like came in just through, organically following a path. So obviously I had, I was privileged enough to have that time to organically follow um, but that's what it led to effectively and um, I think it was quite in 2014. It made sense at that point to shut down the e-com DTC business, um, because there was a point where I was like, do I I want to keep funding it to myself or do I want to actually focus on something that has potential to be pretty big? And it grew big, it went to five continents around the world and all of these sorts of things, and so for me it was like a trade off at that point.

Amardeep Parmar: 18:00

We hope you're enjoying the episode so far. We just want to give a quick shout out to Headline Partners HSBC Innovation Banking. One of the biggest challenges for so many start ups is finding the right bank to support them, because you might start off and try to use a traditional bank, but they don't understand what you're doing. You're just talking to an AI assistant or you're talking to somebody who doesn't really understand what it is you've been trying to do. HSBC have got the team they've built out over years to make sure they understand what you're doing. They've got the deep sector expertise and they can help connect you the right people to make your dreams come true.

Amardeep Parmar: 18:31

So if you want to learn more, check out hsbc innovation banking. com. So I'd love to hear about the like behind the scenes of how you felt as well, because obviously, building that business up and then the huge success of this other business and, I guess, just trying to juggle those different things at the same time, right, like how was that rollercoaster? Because you'd left your company, where you've been 10 years there almost, and then now you're having all these different things going about, and even how I feel now there's so many things going on all the time, it can be quite overwhelming at different times. And how did you deal with that almost success? Right, it's something to do with failure, but it's also a different thing to do with growing so fast.

Rupa Ganatra Popat: 19:10

So I think, first of all, I think, um, we have such like incorrect perceptions of what failure and success is, and I didn't know that at the time, so it was actually really difficult to be like, okay, something's not working and I have to shut it down, um, or it's not getting the capital that it needs from investors and whatever it is like. You know, it just wasn't, you know, couldn't be able to go any further, and so when I was in banking, a lot of my identity was linked to the success in my career, and so I had to unravel quite a lot when I didn't have vice president director on my business card. I'm going around and all of a sudden, my business card says, like my Gmail address, and it's like I'm going to start a business, and so that was, in itself, a huge process. And now it was like I had gone out and told the world, like my world, my world that this is this business, is what I'm building. All of a sudden, it's like, okay, well, that's not going to work out. So, to be honest, at the time it felt like a huge failure. Today it just feels like a data point and a point in the journey that made me. You know, and now even you think about it, I invest in.

Rupa Ganatra Popat: 20:10

You know, my portfolio has, like always a handful of DTC kind of businesses if they have like an interesting lever and so on, and so it's like I'm actually like back in, but at the time, and also I'm using skills that I had from back then to like you know that sort of thing, and so everything happens for a reason, like I truly, truly believe that, but obviously then I did not know that, and so for me it was actually like, oh okay, I need to shut this business down. Luckily I was so busy with the new one that I didn't have and that had already taken off, that I didn't have time to like sit and like wallow guilt with like space and time. So what it actually meant is I overthrew myself into the other business to compensate for like not wanting to have time with my own thoughts. I think today it's I'm in a very different space from that. It's like I can go inwards and I actually benefit, like I understand that every all your answers are within, but at the time I was just literally looking to scale this business.

Rupa Ganatra Popat: 21:04

So I would say that there were huge lows.

Rupa Ganatra Popat: 21:06

There was a lot of, I'd say, feelings of like guilt and shame and so on, and you know thinking well, you know, because I had been, you know you almost get like, I'd say, an ego.

Rupa Ganatra Popat: 21:16

So in my 20s it was like an ego around. I'm so successful, I'm going to be successful at anything I do, and all of a sudden I felt so unsuccessful at this one business that it basically broke kind of some of my biggest perceptions of myself, when actually now I know that nothing like that defines your success or you know all of these things, and my definition of success is very different today. But back then it was like it was just like it felt so big. I would just say to like anyone who feels like that, like that it really is just a point in a journey and there's a very good reason why it's happening, because if a door closes, there's a bigger door about to open and you know what I, then went on to build at, as actually more suited to my skillset which is community and ecosystem building, and even today now when I look at you know the fund that we built at Araya, it's all about community and ecosystem, and so all of these things are stepping stones to where I've got to today, which is like my biggest mission, purpose, etc.I could not have seen that then and so it felt pretty like harsh back then.

Amardeep Parmar: 22:18

 I know you're a big advocate of mental health with founders, and I think now we're getting more people to talk about it, which is great and it's so good for you to admit kind of how you felt the things of guilt and shame, because there's people listening right now who are going to be in that position right now and to hear what you've just said hopefully helps some of them to. I think there is like give them the optimism of what could happen in the future as well and how, what they've learned from web mistakes they've made, how it's going to help them and the future group as well. So you obviously existed in that business. What was that process like? Was that another big shift ?

Rupa Ganatra Popat: 22:55

To be honest, it had grown so much, was traveling so much again, kind of like in my banking career, and so I was traveling again. It was all very quick the growth that we had there and moving like launched Singapore, us and I think the same year. So I was literally jumping from one to the other plus trying to like build culture in the UK and um, so and and so when, I think when, so sold the majority shareholding in 2019 and have now sold the rest, sold the rest of the shares. First of all, it was probably a bit of relief because probably the pace I was running at wasn't necessary. You know there's I was also going through a different chain, a point in my life and I was getting married and all these sorts of things and, um, you know, juggling that I was, I got married in my exit year in my DD process and it was it. You know it was.

Rupa Ganatra Popat: 23:45

There was, it was a lot to kind of manage, but I think the first thing was, yeah, a little bit of relief. There's also some excitement because so our acquirers, like listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, it's called Pico Group and they had ambitions they have, like you know, taking it into China, taking it into. And and we also had, like you know, more like expertise coming as well with that acquisition, because they were already operating in 40 countries around the world and they had this, they were operating this business so well, and so it was really. It was really like it was exciting as well. And then there was also that moment again which was like what's next?

Rupa Ganatra Popat: 24:29

That ticking thing, and actually what happened next was obviously done very differently from when I left banking, because, you know, I always call that the second innings of my career and today is like my third.

Rupa Ganatra Popat: 24:41

But I had now the freedom to like go at a pace that I wanted to, and I didn't really stop actually that much, but I did take some time out, but like I was able to go do stuff that I really wanted to do. I was able to do stuff at pace. You know, like the first thing I did is my husband had gifted me this property course and I really wanted to like do something with the exit capital that built passive income portfolio, and so that was like something I just immersed myself into and before I knew it I was building that portfolio. And then, you know, but it was really organic, it was at a pace of comfort and it also then took, you know, for various reasons, ended up going on a journey inward and that took me on a whole other kind of journey of finding mission and purpose, to kind of where I am today.

Amardeep Parmar: 25:24

Could you tell us about today's mission and purpose?

Rupa Ganatra Popat: 25:26

It was very organic. I call myself the accidental VC because I literally introduced a startup which has just gone to exit. Actually, I introduced a startup to a VC fund and they ended up leading the round and said, do you want to put in an angel ticket? And I was like, well, I was busy doing the property thing at the time and I was like, sure, I've always wanted, I always wanted to. I just didn't know how to get into angel investing. Um, and because I was meeting like all these amazing companies while I was building future groups, like I was meeting gusto when it first started, and twitch and what, what three words and all we, you know, partnered with all these companies when they were tiny and just starting out, and then saw the successes that these companies are having, I was like, oh, wouldn't it be great to also like participate in upside to some of these companies? But I wasn't able to find a way in to access deal flow and things like that. So in 2016, 17, I just given up on it. And so then, in 2020, when this came up, I was like, yeah, sure, I'll write a ticket. And you know, it was a small ticket, it was, I think it was like five grand, and it really just began from there and then I got the bug, so I ended up I was more actively starting to invest and so then that happened.

Rupa Ganatra Popat: 26:35

And then from there it was like mid 21 when I had a few friends basically say whatever you invest for yourself, could you please invest the same amount for us, because we are super exposed to like real estate and bricks and mortar business and we want exposure to this asset class. And I was like, oh, that's different. I like taking a lot of risk, I go in pre-seed, I go in like really early, like I back people, but all of a sudden it was like, oh, I've got other people's capital. This is like you know, know, this is like and it's really interesting because there's one of my most successful companies in my portfolio. I saw it at pre-seed. But because it wasn't just my money going in at the time, I was like, oh, let me track that. And then I went in at seed and like, had I gone in at pre-seed, like right now, like we just had like an offer last at the end of last year from one of the top VCs for an exit at series A, and had I gone in at pre-seed, it would have been like a 20x return in like three years, whereas, like I went, ended up going back in, going in at seed. So I tracked the company there, but that was mainly because it was the first deal I was doing, once I had taken some external capital, and I was like, oh, this is no longer. If it was mine, I probably would have just written the check.

Rupa Ganatra Popat: 27:42

And so it had to change the mindset now because actually I do need to take risk, maybe measured risk, but I do need to trust my gut and my instinct and my process. I have a process that I call like the science and the art. And the science piece is, like you know, making, like asking all the questions and the DD and like making sure that everything stacks up with the model and so on. And then there's the art, which is like your, your intuition and more of the kind of the more founders you meet, the more that develops and gets fine tuned. And so, yeah, I really had to, like you know, think so mid 21,. I started doing that. Then I got offered more capital, kind of reverse, and I was still just deploying my own as well. I also did a fund to fund strategy at that time as well, and then at that point I was like, okay, well, I might as well just put it into a fund structure, and so that's really how the first fund was born.

Rupa Ganatra Popat: 28:32

And so my mission and purpose like, if you back to your question, so if there's, I think it's a few fold, but overall I just think that like there is, like you know, and it's happening everywhere, even the work that you guys do is just phenomenal. But like it's about giving access to diversity. And so for me, what that means is, in the venture capital industry. The capital has stayed in the hands of a small group of people for a very long time and I think that there is phenomenal opportunity for diversified investors to add value into the ecosystem but also drive outsized returns. And whether you look at Harvard Bain, McKinsey, all of the stats coming out prove that female managers and female investors actually do drive outsized returns. And you know, one of the ones I saw recently in Harvard Business Review, which was one of my favorites, is that every time you add a female partner to a VC fund, you get 9.7% more profitable exits and an increased annual return in IRR. And so when you look at things like that, so my biggest mission is to is just to be that diverse manager in the ecosystem, and I'm more likely to invest in diverse founders, and you know I invest in all founders. So I don't like choose one gender, I don't choose one race, one, anything, because I believe you know and I have you know, even like in my first portfolio, I have, like you know, 35% are second time founders, 65% are first time founders. So I diversify across all of these things. But I think that true diversity means you invest in everyone but you create that diversity piece in the portfolio, and so my mission is to prove out that that actually drives outsized returns.

Rupa Ganatra Popat: 30:11

If I think about my bigger mission is to have more diversified investors in the ecosystem. So alongside the Araya Ventures funds, we also do Araya Ventures Academy. We started with just for angels, and so there, and even in the UK, only 14 %of angel investors are women and less than five percent have more than 10 investments. And so we have a course, educational course and community um, and the mission is to get um by next year, a thousand women um in the ecosystem, um starting to angel invest for the first time, and so that for me is also this bigger mission of diversified investors are just more, two to three times more likely to invest in diversified founders. And so when we hear these stats of, like you know, 1%, 2% goes to diversified founders, to put you know different metrics and so on. But that is going to change as our ecosystem evolves and we have more, more people like me at the table, and so that for me, is like the bigger mission, um, and then the other side of it is is that I am just so inspired by what founders are um building today.

Rupa Ganatra Popat: 31:16

Um, and you know my thesis is around um changing, like investing in founders that are changing the way we live and work. So it's quite broad. It covers like fintech, health, health, tech, climate, and also kind of work, automation, productivity and so on, and commerce as well. But for me, it's just really about like it's such a privilege to sit where I sit today and be able to pay a really small part in their journeys, whether it's capital add, value add, bringing in my own community of L lps in our fund, um, and things like that. Amardeep Pamar: So I know like on that side, you've done some incredible things already.

Amardeep Parmar: 31:53

Could you share with us some of the biggest wins on that investment side so far and in terms of how many people you've trained as well for the angel investors? And then also let us know like what's the vision for the future like? If you're sitting across the table again in five years time? What do you hope to be, say you're doing?

Rupa Ganatra Popat: 32:06

Great questions. I'll just in terms of the second part. First is that, like, I think this is what I'll be doing, but I think you know, if I think about, I'll do whatever's needed, like ecosystem wise. So this isn't about like me, me kind of that's not what it's about, but it's about what ripple effects and impact can we create from what the roles we all play here. Um, and so for me, it would be about having more AUM under management.

Rupa Ganatra Popat: 32:31

I'd want, I want to be able to you know, I've already started with track record but really prove out now what diversity truly means in an investment portfolio, in venture capital, and I know there's lots of amazing people doing that. I'm like just one of a pool, but I would like to see more people doing that, and we always say you can only do something if you see other people who've done it before walk that path, and so I think it's about building more of that in having more of those people doing it. And then on the angel side, it's like, after the UK, well, why shouldn't every ecosystem be benefiting from having more female angel investors in the ecosystem? And so I would just, yeah, I guess bigger mission would be to see that go more global in its, and so we're currently like we'll be digitizing the course in the next 12 months and allowing it to be more accessible on a global sale. In terms of what we've done so far. So the course was created last year, so we had three courses in Q4. We've got 60 graduates so far, we've got 200 women doing it this year, doing it this year, and the idea is is that it's really accessible to anyone that wants to start, even from, you know, a thousand pounds of, like you know, in terms of small tickets to get started and so on, um, and so the idea is is just to encourage more women.

Rupa Ganatra Popat: 33:55

You know, like so far we've got mds at banks, we've got senior like experts, whether it's marketing, um, financial, where they want to do kind of fractional advisory, um, and then there's we've also got partners at consulting firms. We've got, like entrepreneurs, we've got freelancers, exited founders, like the whole shebang. So I even want, you know, founders to have access to this content before they've even exited their business, so that, like we just, you know, because it's natural to at some stage to start, you know, start that and I really think exited founders make phenomenal investors, because we all know that it's not about capital in this game. It's about capital plus the value add prop, and you know so. It's about finding what your superpowers are to be able to support, and you know it's completely the founders achieving all this. But, like, if each investor can play their part or their role and just a small contribution to that, like you know, thinking that's that's really what

Amardeep Parmar: 34:55

So thank you so much for coming today. We're gonna get to a quick five questions now. So first one, yeah, who are three british asians you think are doing incredible work and you love to shout them out today?

Rupa Ganatra Popat: 35:06

Yeah, so I'm going to go with founders that I have in my portfolio already. So Siddhi Mittal, who's building yHangry amazing powerhouse of a woman, and Peony Li, who's literally reinventing the bladder category like to almost imagine why. No one has done this before. Literally yeah, just love being part of her journey as well. And I also want to shout out Diipa Khosla. She's not actually british, but she's asian and she's got a british business.

Rupa Ganatra Popat: 35:33

So um, maybe that's okay and Diipa's just building indie wild and it's just a phenomenal business. She's actually just moved out to india because their fastest growth is coming out of India, but UK was like where the business began and it's grown into US and lots of markets and so I'd say that those three women are just phenomenal founders and I'm just really excited to be a part of their journey.

Amardeep Parmar: 35:55

So, Siddhi and Peony been on before and they're incredible, as you said, and-.

Rupa Ganatra Popat: 35:59

Now you need to get deeper on.

Amardeep Parmar: 36:00

If you can help us on that. And then, if people want to learn more about you and what you're doing in the future, where should they go to?

Rupa Ganatra Popat: 36:07

Yeah, amazing. So we've got the fund website Araya Ventures and on there is also the Angel program as well. I'm also on LinkedIn. I haven't figured out yet how to manage the LinkedIn inbox, but please do send a message. If you heard the podcast, please put that in the note with the connection and I'll definitely try and get back to everyone there.

Amardeep Parmar:

And is there anything you need help with right now that the audience could help you with?

Rupa Ganatra Popat: 36:31

Over the next four years I'm going to be investing in over 50 founders who are changing the way we live and work, so always would love to receive deal flow or introductions to founders that you think are doing that, and also um, any phenomenal women that must be um on the kind of array of ventures academy program.

Amardeep Parmar: 36:51

So thank you so much for coming on today. It's been great to hear your story. Have you got any final words for the audience?

Rupa Ganatra Popat: 36:56

Thank you so much for having me first of all. Um, yeah, look, I, I'm, I still, I'm humbled to say them at the very start still of this next phase and anyone who is thinking about going into VC, into angel like, please do reach out, because it is a phenomenal asset class to be a part of and you can make a huge impact in the process as well, and so very happy to share my journey.

Amardeep Parmar: 37:20

Thank you for watching. Don't forget to subscribe. See you next time.

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