Just start! I used to get bogged down by doubt: Did I actually pick the right path? What if I’m wrong? I learned that it’s more conducive just to get started and to change direction down the line if need be.

 

Vivek Rajkumar is a serial angel investor with years of experience in the early-stage funding world and an unshakable passion for entrepreneurs committed to changing the social media, gaming and sports betting industries for the better.

Rajkumar studied computer science at the University of Washington. After completing his studies, he dove headfirst into the product development and user acquisition domains, learning from some of the discipline’s best minds while employed at Microsoft. Rajkumar sharpened his skills during a stint with a YCombinator-backed startup, then struck out on his own as managing partner of Fikir Ventures, a rapidly growing angel fund.

Since his days at the University of Washington, Rajkumar has remained committed to helping talented, ambitious entrepreneurs turn interesting concepts into game-changing realities, no matter how early on in the ideation process they may be.

At Fikir, Rajkumar works closely with an established network of advisors and domain experts to provide early-stage entrepreneurs with the tools they need to succeed. Rajkumar never deviates from a simple formula for startup success: to get “the right founders working on the right things at the right time.” Rajkumar works closely with Martin de Knijff, Fikir Ventures’ general partner, to identify promising investments and advise companies in which Fikir has taken an active stake.

Those companies include some of the most promising startups in the mining, social media, and sports betting spaces.

MSI Lighting is the world’s leading provider of solid-state lighting technology for cap-lights used in some of the planet’s most productive metals mines. Compose Labs is an innovative social enterprise built to foster intentional, positive digital communities that stand apart from noisy “mainstream” communities like Facebook and Twitter. Metric Gaming is a disruptive sports betting enterprise that facilitates real-time bets on in-game events and outcomes, such as individual at-bats in baseball games and specific golf strokes in tour play. Rajkumar sits on the board of Compose Labs as well.

Rajkumar is an enthusiastic proponent of decentralized computing platforms and blockchains. He has positions in Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, IOTA, and Monero, among others, and is always looking for new ICOs and other opportunities to drive the space forward. Rajkumar is actively involved in several early-stage blockchain projects and looks forward to expanding their share of his deal flow in the months and years ahead.

Where did the idea for Fikir Ventures come from?

I was doing some angel investing and had a couple close friends who were participating in the same deals as me. We decided to create a fund and combine our resources. We realized we could be a lot more effective as a team than as individuals.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

It really varies. Generally, I’ll start my day with a look at the latest ICOs, then check in with some of the main individuals at the companies I’m invested in. Later, I’ll talk to the friends and colleagues with whom I share deal flow with.

How do you bring ideas to life?

Just start! I used to get bogged down by doubt: Did I actually pick the right path? What if I’m wrong? I learned that it’s more conducive just to get started and to change direction down the line if need be.

What’s one trend that excites you?

Decentralization. I’m very excited about the disruptive potential of blockchains and cryptocurrencies, for example. We’re on the cusp of a truly transformative period in history, and people are just beginning to wake up to it. Our most deeply held notions will be challenged over the next 10 to 15 years. That’s a good thing, even if it makes some nervous.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

I call it ruthless prioritization. I focus on one big goal at a time, no matter what else is going on in my life or what other matters are competing for my attention. That doesn’t mean I don’t multitask — just that I multitask with a clear endgame.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Start learning outside of your specific domain and comfort zone as soon as possible. Be like a sponge and soak up everything you can. We only have so much time to make our mark…what are you waiting for?

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

Most people are way too risk averse. I don’t mean that you should actively seek out risk wherever you find it, but it’s important to remember that risk management is a skill like any other. When you take emotion and other biases out of the risk assessment process, you’ll make better decisions.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Don’t be afraid to reverse direction or say you were wrong with an earlier decision. Don’t become too emotionally invested in your decisions, because then it’s hard to be objective.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

Having good business partners and also lifelong friends who I trust implicitly. We can catch each other’s mistakes and we know that we all have the best intentions for each other.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

My very first investment was structured terribly with little upside for me and lots of downside. Luckily it was relatively small and I learned a lot through failing with it. I was better prepared for my second investment — I guess you could say that’s how I overcame my first failure.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

As an angel investor, I’m always on the lookout for true technology innovators and disruptors. Business ideas centered around blockchain projects are particularly exciting these days, and it will be interesting to see which current and future companies comes out on top.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

I recently had a fantastic sushi meal with a close friend I hadn’t seen in a few weeks. The bill came out to about $100, but catching up was priceless.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?

Google Sheets” I know, it’s a boring answer, but Sheets is actually incredibly versatile. I use it to organize my thoughts, collect information, manage tasks, and a lot more.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

Algorithms to Live By: The Computer Science of Human Decisions” by Brian Christian and Tom Griffiths. It really illuminates the practical power of algorithms, which — let’s face it — most regular people give little thought day to day.

What is your favorite quote?

In order to live, you must be willing to die.” It sounds dramatic, but I think applies a lot to venture capital and risk taking in general.

Key Learnings:

  • Don’t let doubt paralyze you. To bring your ideas to life, just get started and change direction down the line if need be.

  • To be more productive, it’s essential to prioritize. Focus on one big goal at a time, no matter what else is competing for your attention.

  • To grow personally and professionally, start learning outside of your specific domain and comfort zone. Be like a sponge and soak up everything you can.

Connect:

http://www.vivekrajkumar.com/
Vivek Rajkumar on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/vivek.rajkumar1
Vivek Rajkumar on Twitter: https://twitter.com/realvivekr
Vivek Rajkumar on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/vivek-rajkumar-740986139/
Vivek Rajkumar on Angel.co: https://angel.co/vivek-rajkumar
Vivek Rajkumar on Crunchbase: https://www.crunchbase.com/person/vivek-rajkumar

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