Mahendra Ramsinghani

Author of The Business of Venture Capital and Startup Boards

THIS CHAT HAPPENED ON January 14, 2016

Discussion

Mahendra R@mahendra_gr · Author, Optimist, Security Startups
Hi - I'm Mahendra Ramsinghani, founder of Secure Octane, a cybersecurity seed fund and author of 2 books - "The Business of Venture Capital" and "Startup Boards" (with VC Brad Feld). I've helped launch a VC fund-of-funds & have invested in 50+ startups. Delighted to be here - please ask me anything. Except my views on Donald Trump!
Andrew Ettinger@andrewett · 👟 @wearAtoms // ex @Twitter @ProductHunt
@mahendra_gr Which product(s) in your portfolio do you wish every casual internet user knew about?
Mahendra R@mahendra_gr · Author, Optimist, Security Startups
@andrewmettinger I'm not heavy into consumer play and most of the companies I am working with are deeply technical. However, every casual internet user should be aware of #cybersecurity challenges and do some basic things to protect themselves. (Like two factor authentication)
Andrew Ettinger@andrewett · 👟 @wearAtoms // ex @Twitter @ProductHunt
@mahendra_gr What is something you believe about cybersecurity that most people would disagree with you on?
Mahendra R@mahendra_gr · Author, Optimist, Security Startups
@andrewmettinger Ah - ha - Let me channel Peter Thiel for a moment ;-) (Thinking....)
Mahendra R@mahendra_gr · Author, Optimist, Security Startups
@andrewmettinger Cybersecurity budgets are tied to an archaic formula of 10% of IT budget. This makes no sense whatsoever. But most enterprises operate that way, (Till they get hacked).
Jeff Umbro@jeffumbro · CEO of The podglomerate
@mahendra_gr Why can't we ask about Trump?
Mahendra R@mahendra_gr · Author, Optimist, Security Startups
@jeffumbro Because I dont believe he is the kind of person who can lead our country. We need more talented people in Washington. Its just my opinion though. FWIW ;-)
Jeff Umbro@jeffumbro · CEO of The podglomerate
@mahendra_gr Most authors, especially business authors, write their books for different reasons. A lot of them don't particularly care about sales, though of course that would be nice. I hear that often CEOs and business men and women will write a book as a kind of business card, or as a ticket to get into the news. What are your thoughts here and why did you write your books?
Mahendra R@mahendra_gr · Author, Optimist, Security Startups
@jeffumbro Thats a great question - my goal to write the book on VC was to help someone who wants to be a VC understand the challenges of investing. There is no formulaic approach + lots of challenges. There was no book that said it as it is.
Emily Hodgins@ems_hodge · Operations @ Product Hunt
@mahendra_gr what do you look for when investing? Can you share something your've changed in your strategy from early-on learnings?
Mahendra R@mahendra_gr · Author, Optimist, Security Startups
@ems_hodge Great founders and great markets = simple answer. The harder part is to get beneath the surface + build lasting ties with founders no matter what the outcome. We are all human beings first and founders / Vcs later.
Andrew Ettinger@andrewett · 👟 @wearAtoms // ex @Twitter @ProductHunt
What reading would you recommend to the "I have nothing to hide" person? This Reddit comment is the best point on the matter, that I've seen.
Mahendra R@mahendra_gr · Author, Optimist, Security Startups
@andrewmettinger Not sure if I understand the question - can you rephrase -thx.
Andrew Ettinger@andrewett · 👟 @wearAtoms // ex @Twitter @ProductHunt
@mahendra_gr Sorry! Was in an exam. On the issue of privacy, folks often say they have nothing to hide and they don't care if they're being watched (by government). Is there any one go-to video, article, etc. you have that opens people's eyes on the matter? Gets them thinking. Or is this less your domain?
Ben Tossell@bentossell · newCo
what is the most exciting market for you right now?
Mahendra R@mahendra_gr · Author, Optimist, Security Startups
@bentossell I'm deep into the #cybersecurity trenches. But I can see the promise of #AI, #blockchain as well...
Ben Tossell@bentossell · newCo
What was your latest investment you can tell us about and why did you say yes? h/t @harrystebbings
Mahendra R@mahendra_gr · Author, Optimist, Security Startups
@bentossell Am excited about a number of them - @kryptnostic is building a new way to keep data encrypted at all times and still be able to use it. And Andy Bechtolsheim (first angel in Google) just invested in the company ;-)
Emily Hodgins@ems_hodge · Operations @ Product Hunt
@mahendra_gr what do you prefer, writing, founding, or investing?
Mahendra R@mahendra_gr · Author, Optimist, Security Startups
@ems_hodge Writing can help the society for much longer than we live (and is very therapeutic) but does not pay the bills ;-) So we do everything else...
westhalos@onuk767 · nomad
What/where are the chances for a non-us startup to get investment?
Mahendra R@mahendra_gr · Author, Optimist, Security Startups
@onuk767 All depends on the strength of the team + problem you are solving. Geographic boundaries do not matter as much.
westhalos@onuk767 · nomad
@mahendra_gr Thanks for the answer! Another one would be where should non-us startups seek for investment?
Mahendra R@mahendra_gr · Author, Optimist, Security Startups
@onuk767 It depends .. I'd start with those investors who have appreciation for the challenges / problem you are solving - one US entrepreneur I know found an angel investor in Australia who cared about the problem and was seeking a solution.
Ben Tossell@bentossell · newCo
If you were 22 right now what would you work on?
Mahendra R@mahendra_gr · Author, Optimist, Security Startups
@bentossell If I were 22, I would spend a lot of time in #blockchain - its a pretty disruptive force that will impact financial services, government, cybersecurity....If I were 22 and did not have to worry about paying bills, I would be a writer. ;-)
Ben Tossell@bentossell · newCo
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Mahendra R@mahendra_gr · Author, Optimist, Security Startups
@bentossell I did not have a particular notion of "career" as such. By staying open / present / ability to serve without getting hung up on "What's in it for me", I have found a lot of good things in life.
Lukas Fittl@lukasfittl · Product Hunt
@mahendra_gr When I think of "Cyber Security" I often see solutions with horrible UX - e.g. email encryption is still unusable even to most geeks. What opportunities do you see, specifically in regards to improving the UX of security products?
Mahendra R@mahendra_gr · Author, Optimist, Security Startups
@lukasfittl Great question - good startups (like Authy) focussed on UX much more and were able to get traction and acquired by Twilio. They had multiple acquisition offers as I understand. But they were smart enough to not reinvent crypto / 2FA etc but just focus on the consumer pain and UX. This is a huge problem in security - not much attention is being paid to UX and this impedes adoption.
Jacqueline von Tesmar@jacqvon · Community at Product Hunt ⚡️
What industries would you place your bets on in the next 10-20 years?
Mahendra R@mahendra_gr · Author, Optimist, Security Startups
@jacqvon Tech (Software/Hardware) continues to evolve rapidly. As an investor, that's an area which will opportunities. The cycles of innovation and destruction is much more shorter so you have to also be careful - things can get out of favor equally fast.
Kate@katesegrin · Head of Social @ GitHub
Hey Mahendra! Who have been some of the people who have had the biggest impact on your life? (Stories, please!)
Mahendra R@mahendra_gr · Author, Optimist, Security Startups
@katesegrin Three people - 1) Mother Teresa - I met her when I was ~23 for 10 minutes and it was a life changing event. (2) Bill Gates - I met him when I was ~ 29 and found him to be incredibly curious and humble. (3) And my wife - its because of her that I am still smiling.
Mike Coutermarsh@mscccc · Code @ GitHub
@mahendra_gr hey! what do you personally use to manage passwords? What are your thoughts on yubikey?
Mahendra R@mahendra_gr · Author, Optimist, Security Startups
@mscccc Gotta love ubikey. I am still using my brain / memory for passwords but its such a huge pain. This is a problem waiting to be solved (and then hacked till it's solved again).
Ben Tossell@bentossell · newCo
Whats the craziest thing you've seen in a pitch?
Mahendra R@mahendra_gr · Author, Optimist, Security Startups
@bentossell The entrepreneur pulled out a nail cutter and started to cut his nails.
Mahendra R@mahendra_gr · Author, Optimist, Security Startups
Thanks everyone - I really enjoyed this #AMA session. If you have more questions DM me @mahendra_gr and a huge thanks to #producthunt
Geoffrey Weg@geoffreyweg · Betaworks, TechStars, White House
Hi Mahendra! Can you recommend a resource for learning the very basics and complexities of VC finance (math; modeling; cap tables; etc.)? I actually own your Business of Venture Capital book, but found that it didn't go into this in depth.