Author and BRV Fund Manager: Umang Methi

Umang: Hi Kriti, thanks so much for meeting me! Really appreciate you taking the time out of your day to speak about your career path and experiences at Differential Ventures.

First off, can you discuss your path into VC?

Kritil: My journey in venture capital has been serendipitous. I began my career at McKinsey & Company, where I collaborated with large businesses on their overarching strategies. While I enjoyed working with management, I yearned for a more hands-on approach. Additionally, I was keen on immersing myself in the burgeoning tech revolution. Venturing into the world of venture capital seemed like the perfect amalgamation of both aspirations. Joining Sequoia Capital’s India team marked the beginning of my genuine passion for this profession.

Umang: Very cool. I’ve read a bit about Owl Ventures online and they have a very unique focus. Can you tell me more about the firm’s thesis and how it differs from other firms?

Kriti: Owl Ventures is a venture capital firm focused on investing in education technology companies. Our investment thesis revolves around identifying and supporting innovative EdTech startups that have the potential to transform the education landscape. This specialization allows us to deeply understand the unique challenges and opportunities within the education industry and invest in companies across the world through pattern recognition. We also invest through all life-stages of a company from seed to pre-IPO rounds. 

We often provide more than just capital to our portfolio companies. We offer strategic guidance, industry expertise, and access to our network of education professionals and institutions. We are also long-term oriented in all our partnerships.

Umang: Moving more towards an evaluation basis, what metrics or criteria do you find are most important for a startup to succeed? What is most critical to success?

Kriti: We look for founders and teams that are very passionate and driven about bringing change to the problem that they’re targeting. Startups operating in large markets with pull demand from customers is important for success. Some other things that I think are important include iterating and finding strong product-market fit, execution focus, customer obsession, and building a defensible moat which makes it hard for competitors to compete. 

Umang: What advice would you give for individuals looking to start their careers in VC?

Kriti: My advice would be to stay curious and have a learning mindset. Build strong networks of founders, operators and investors to learn from and stay in the know of the market. Staying updated on tech trends will definitely help in conversations and to help you identify promising investment opportunities. The biggest one though is patience and persistence. Breaking into VC can take time as is finding the right opportunity once you are an investor. Staying focused and continuing to learn will always help. 

Umang: Lastly, what’s the coolest company Owl Ventures has invested in that you’re really excited about (and can publicly disclose)?

Kriti: I’m very excited about Leap. Leap is an online study-abroad platform for international students. The Leap platform is an end-to-end solution for students seeking education opportunities abroad starting from test preparation, guidance, community and mentorship to funding needs and financial requirements in the country of education. They’re focusing on building a community of Indian and South-East Asian students which is roughly 6-7mn students every year. The business is helping universities get access to a global and diverse student base while helping students with transparent and easy access to loans and application processes. It’s a very exciting team with prior background in building financial and consumer tech companies and the business scaled tremendously in the last few years. 

Umang: Well thank you so much Kriti, those were all the questions I had and I really appreciate you making the time for this interview. Have a great rest of your day!