Ravi Mhatre a son of an Indian immigrant and Brooklyn born mother. Before turning 18, Ravi lived in four different states on three different continents. Ravi studied Electrical Engineering and Economics at Stanford University, where he also earned his MBA. As a founding partner and investor at Lightspeed, Ravi has worked with hundreds of founders and their teams, and sat on the board of IT startups like Nutanix and AppDynamics.
Where did the idea for Lightspeed come from?
I had a terrific mentor at my first firm. He really took a chance on me, believed in me, and taught me so much. Ultimately, he helped me realize this is what I was meant to do. I almost immediately knew what I had to do next. I had to open my own firm. My original partners, also Stanford classmates, had the same mentality as me. We shared a passion for technology and we understood the ways in which we could help those people build great companies – and that is how Lightspeed Venture Partners began. Now here we are today 22 years later.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
Each day is actually quite different. If you have any interest in the field of Venture Capital, I would encourage you to ask as many people as possible what a typical day looks like so you can create an image of what it really looks like. When you are in the venture capital business for long enough, you have a variety of responsibilities to the entrepreneurs who you’ve already backed, you’re meeting with new prospective founders, you’re spending a lot of time supporting your partners who may be looking at new companies, and meeting with new founders. You’re also thinking about where new market opportunities are. As far as being productive, I just make sure that you treat every interaction with the utmost importance. Venture Capital is really about relationships and if I can listen and really hear what everyone is saying to me, and filing that away, I can be much more productive and effective with my time.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Our job is to help founders take their ideas and help scale their businesses to the next level.
What’s one trend that excites you?
The technological advances in life sciences. I can’t tell you how excited I am by the advancements in biomedical science and the capabilities of technology when it comes to treating diseases and utilizing personalized medicine. These advancements in science and technology will save countless lives as we inch closer to these breakthroughs every day.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Talk to as many people as you can, have a very long-term view, be comfortable with very little feedback, and know that a capital investing career is measured in decades, not dollars.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Listening. I know that’s not novel or ground-breaking, but it’s true. If you can sit with founders, prospective founders, former colleagues, and even friends and just listen, you will learn more than you ever can from a textbook. Treating our founders as people and working for their best interest is what has helped us grow Lightspeed Venture Partners into the success it is today.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
I think the answer to this question is more of a view of the world. We’ve hit a point where technology, whether I really believe that the foreign language requirement for a student in any college should be computer science. It is the language of technology. Being conversational in the language of computers is critically important for the future of whatever you’re going to do. Having a deeper understanding of the technical ecosystem will help you when you are trying to decide what new “next-generation” infrastructure to invest in, or what web application to look deeper into. It allows you to see to the heart of the product and have a better understanding of what you’re looking at.
- Treat every interaction with the utmost respect.
- Take a long-term view and be comfortable with very little feedback.
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.