Dr. Sanjit Dang of U First Capital discusses Venture Capital as a Service and Coronavirus impact on startups on The Silicon Dreams hosted by RJ Shara

Dr. Sanjit Dang of U First Capital discusses Venture Capital as a Service and Coronavirus impact on startups on The Silicon Dreams hosted by RJ Shara

Dr. Sanjit Dang was interviewed by RJ shara on The Silicon Dreams Radio Show and Podcast.
RJ Shara interviews Dr. Sanjit Dang to talk about Venture Capital as a Service, impact of Covid-19 on the startup ecosystem and the role of U First Capital in corporate venture capital funding. Dr. Sanjit Dang is a Venture Capitalist based in the Bay Area with investments in many prolific companies like Pinterest, DocugSign, etc. He is the chariman of U First Capital and he shares his keen insights and few words of advice for the entrepreneurs and businessmen

The Silicon Dreams is a Radio Show hosted by RJ Shara that is broadcasted on Radio Zindagi 1170 AM in the Bay Area, California. The show curates the inside scoop from the birthplace of the Startup Ecosystem by exploring topics such as investment funding, sales and marketing, acquisitions, exits, etc. with prolific guests who are angel investors, venture capitalists, startup advisors, etc. It is no secret that the Valley has the best established startup ecosystem in the world and The Silicon Dreams makes this accessible to anyone and everyone across the globe.

The guest on this episode was Dr. Sanjit Dang who is the Chairman and Co-founder of U First Capital. U First Capital’s founding team includes Dr. Ekta Dang and it has an excellent track record of driving one M&A or IPO Exit every year: Pinterest (IPO 2019), DocuSign (IPO 2018), Body Labs (Acquired by Amazon in 2017), VokeVR (Acquired by Intel in 2016), etc.

Video Link: https://www.youtube.com/embed/xWUKUlvlBFk

What was the inspiration behind founding U First Capital:

There are 200+ Venture Capital firms in the Silicon Valley. However, U First Capital quickly realized that there is an opportunity in the market to help corporations who want to tap into external innovation but who struggle to do so. U First Capital helps bridge this gap and have been very successful at it. This success is eminent from the fact that they have signed up one corporation every month since their inception in late 2018.

What is Venture Capital as a Service:

U First Capital flips the traditional approach to raising Venture Capital. Instead of marketing startups to Venture Capitalists, U First Capital works with corporations to understand their needs for innovation. They then look for startups who fit the bill and present those to the investment arm of corporations. This saves startups and corporations a significant amount of time and helps build a strong foundation for success for both.

What are the different kinds of successful exit that a startup can achieve:

The two most common exits that startups encounter are –

  1. Merger/Acquisition

    • 70 to 80 percent of startups are acquired. Most acquisitions are in the range of $20 to $30 million. We don’t hear about these every day but nonetheless there are many acquisitions that occur which don’t necessarily make the news

  2. IPO (Going Public)

    • IPOs are considered the gold standard when it comes to making an exit. IPOs provide a validation of value by not just the founders and investors but also the public. Hence it is considered the gold standard

What does it take for a startup to make a successful exit:

“Best startups are bought and not sold. If a startup focuses on exit, it’ll never get an exit.” – Dr. Sanjit Dang

Startups should focus on progress and highlight the progress. Some key questions to answer are whether a startup has paying customers, whether they have use cases for repeatable revenue and so on.

Investors look for scalable and repeatable use cases in a startup and that drives revenue too!

With the advent of coronavirus what advice can entrepreneurs/startups benefit from:

The potential recession and panic caused by the coronavirus and theWork From Home economy is going to change the goods we buy and the services we consume. Digital companies like Zoom and Netflix are the ones who will survive longer insuch conditions. Quoting Mike Tyson, Dr. Dang emphasized:

“You have a plan, till you get punched!”

A lot of companies are experiencing this punch right now and they have to retrospect and determine whether they area sunrise or sunset company. A sunrise company works on new beginnings and provides new value to the world while a sunset company puts an end to a problem.

Despite the onset of these economical challenges that might be brought on by Covid-19, companies should continue to focus on their roadmap. Afterall, “Recessions bring out the best entrepreneurs.” 

Will COVID-19 affect investment funding in the USA

VCs will pay more attention to metrics and getting funded will become more difficult. Hence it is important to focus on metrics like number of customers, revenue being generated, etc.

More about U First Capital and its unique Venture Capital as a Service model:

With VC as a service, U First Capital has personalized the startup onboarding experience for corporations. By identifying the exact need of an enterprise, they are able to source startups that are an excellent fit with the vision and mission of the company. They have signed up multiple corporations so far some of which include Mastercard, DowDuPont, Hyperloop, Omnicell and many more. U First Capital has created a new ecosystem to enhance the funding experience for both corporations and startups. They host many events where they invite other influential players of the Bay Area Startup Ecosystem. This is a good networking opportunity for entrepreneurs.

You can find more about U First Capital and their events at https://www.ufirstcapital.com/.

More about Dr. Sanjit Dang

Dr Sanjit Singh Dang has been a successful Venture Capitalist, Corporate Executive, Board Member, Speaker and Writer in Silicon Valley for almost two decades. He is currently the Co-Founder and Chairman of U First Capital. They provide Venture Capital as a Service to Corporations by bringing Startups, University IP, etc in the Corporate’s specific areas of interest (dedicated model). Prior to that, he was at Intel Capital where he led Venture Capital investments in Enterprise Software. He has been an Investor and on the Board of several companies, including True Fit (AI for eCommerce, Raised $100M), Reflektion (AI recommendation for eCommerce, Raised $42M), Helpshift (AI-driven Customer Service, Raised $38M) and Enlighted (Smart Lighting, Acquired by Siemens in 2018). He is also an investor in Mirantis (Cloud Computing, raised >$100M), GoodData (SaaS Business Intelligence, raised over $100M) and Arcadia Data (Big Data 2.0, Raised $26M).

Sanjit has been on US-level Tech/Innovation Policy Advisory team. He is on the Advisory Council of UN’s World Artificial Intelligence Organization. He has also been on University of California President’s Innovation Council. Sanjit has the fastest Engineering PhD from University of Illinois (2yrs 9mo after undergrad), which he received in 2000 with top research awards. He also attended the VC Executive program at Haas School of Business, UC Berkeley. He’s an invited Speaker at several top conferences, eg. SURGE/WebSummit, Venture Summit West, TiECon, Collision, ShopTalk, McKinsey Leadership Summit, Silicon Valley Open Doors, Global AI conference, etc. He’s a mentor at Stanford and Berkeley’s Entrepreneurship programs.

Sanjit has over a decade of Exec leadership experience in Product Design, Business Development and Strategy across several domains: Big Data, Natural Language Processing, 3D Camera/Apps, Supply-Chain Analytics and Flash Memory. He has managed $2Bill/year accounts and executed >30 partnership deals in $100M-$2Bill range. Always striving to be ahead of the curve, Sanjit worked on Big Data Analytics before industry created the term ‘Big Data’. Similarly, he launched 2 online courses during graduate school in 1999 and published iconic papers on learnings, way before the MOOC revolution started.

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