We’re excited to announce that Vardan Gattani has joined 645 Ventures as the newest member of our Investment & Research Team.
In this moment of unprecedented societal change, every industry has been challenged by the COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath, and the tech and venture capital industries are no exception. We are challenged to manage and grow our firms as we operate remotely, and to build diverse teams and cultures in a “new normal” situation.
Just as 645 Ventures has made new investments in founders and their companies remotely, in our hiring process we look for people who have startup operating experience, a growing network that can move the needle for founders, and an unusual desire to win. It didn’t take long nor did it require any in person interviews for us to uncover that Vardan not only has the characteristics to excel in our culture, but also has the potential to become an exceptional venture capital investor.
Nnamdi first met Vardan last November after guest lecturing at Ed Zimmerman’s Columbia MBA class on venture capital. Vardan then came by the 645 office to meet with Nnamdi and Meha. We were impressed by his knowledge of infrastructure software and his deal experience. Although Vardan was still finishing up his last year of business school, he was also working at Riot Ventures, and we began to share dealflow over the course of the year.
We interacted with Vardan again in February of this year at the Cyber NYC Inventors to Founders event, where Alessio, Director of Engineering at 645 Ventures, spoke on a panel alongside investors from Bain Capital and Foundation Capital. We have found that a shared quality of successful new VCs is being active and present in the community, and Vardan certainly demonstrates those qualities. Vardan followed up with Alessio about the open role at our firm, for which we had received over 500 applications from many highly qualified candidates.
Of the 500+ applications, Vardan’s profile seemed to hit all of the key beats that we look for in a candidate that can both flourish in our culture and continue to evolve into a leader who can help drive long-term change beyond our organization. Vardan had gained operating experience at Foursquare, backed by USV and a16z, and venture capital experience at Riot Ventures and AlleyCorp, along with analytical and quantitative acumen at Deloitte Consulting and business school at Columbia. Vardan rose to the top of our list after meeting him over Zoom and speaking to several of his references, including former colleagues, Will Coffield at Riot Ventures, and Steve Cheney at Estimote. What stood out the most were his experience being on the ground floor of building a VC backed company together with his network of operators across several fast growing startups and his “unusual amount of horsepower and stamina” driven by an intense desire to win, a characteristic that is represented in all of our colleagues in different ways.
Vardan is joining 645 Ventures on our Investment & Research Team, alongside Meha Patel. We are incredibly excited to have Vardan join the 645 Ventures tribe. Please join us in welcoming Vardan to the VC community during a time where we all are working toward reimagining and building a better future!
Six years ago 645 Ventures pioneered an outbound deal sourcing approach to early-stage investing that was powered by its proprietary software operating system called Voyager. This approach had worked well at the growth stage, which was adopted first by firms such as Technology Associates (TA), Summit Partners, and Insight Venture Partners. During the late 1990s and early 2000s, the outbound approach worked well at this stage because there was publicly available and accessible data on later stage startups that could enable the approach. It allowed these investors to find companies that were either off the beaten path or overlooked by their contemporaries.
Even though the outbound strategy worked well at the growth stage, the approach wasn’t possible during the first wave of very early-stage investing in the 2000s when firms like First Round Capital, Floodgate, and SV Angel pioneered the category. Seed stage deal flow was mostly network driven and companies were largely pre-product, and there wasn’t any information that could feed an outbound model. Therefore, in order to move quickly on new opportunities, these investors had to be in the “information flow”, an informal human network of founders and investors that share information between individuals about exceptional founders and ideas. The information flow is still alive and well today.
By 2014, when we started 645 Ventures, there had already been rapid growth in social media, social networking, digital product reviews, and analytics software that made data available on people and new products, which, if connected in the right way, could reveal nodes in the information flow. It was this insight that inspired us to augment our networks with a software generated information flow, allowing us to execute an outbound approach at the seed stage that wasn’t historically possible. And from this insight we established our firm’s vision, which is
“to cultivate exceptional people, stories, and companies. We are building a vast digitally connected network of deep relationships that identifies and empowers world-class founders to repeatedly achieve extraordinary outcomes.”
And now in 2020, as Vardan joins our firm, he is joining a vast digitally connected network that he will combine with his existing network of startup operators, investors, industry experts, and leaders. Being plugged into a system, with a defined set of human and digital protocols, allows new team members to activate their own network along with 645 Ventures’ networks within a fully distributed team.
At the firm, Vardan will focus on SaaS and infrastructure software, surfacing and conducting research that complements our core investment themes, including SaaS for the Second Wave, The Engineering Value Chain Revolution, Citizen Professionals, and Personalized Consumer. His unique insights, particularly about the role of machine learning in new software applications, will be captured in our learning libraries and added to our decision making processes such that our firm's overall investment judgement is improved. He will work alongside the firm’s GPs to source, diligence, and close deals; he will have the agency to advocate strongly for founders and markets that he believes fit our investment mandate. Upon investing in teams, he will explore the best ways to support founders by remotely working with Guerin Schwarberg from our Success Team to identify nodes in the network that could move the needle for our companies.
The world is changing rapidly, and we are not waiting to find out if we are going back to normal. No matter where we are headed, we are confident that our outbound strategy allows us to continue to remotely partner with and invest in exceptional founders that are looking to scale early stage platforms into growth stage companies that will win their markets.
Aaron, Nnamdi, Abe, & Meha