2015 — a year that was — “mostly awesome”!

There are several reasons to take off on the 31st of December — in most cases the reasons are to wind down from a hectic year, prepare for a crazy new years eve party and refuel for the new year.

For me, while the reasons were all of the above, my body decided to sleep in. I rarely sleep for more than 6–7 hours on the trot but this morning, I slept in for almost 11 hours — and woke up groggy! Indeed it was my body releasing itself and letting me know it was the end of the year.

As I reflect on 2015, I have to say it was a year of professional and personal milestones.

Professionally it was indeed the most fulfilling year to date for me. We started the year by adding an amazing new person to our Venture Capital partnership — Amit Somani. It’s often tricky to add a new partner to a small partnership — but Shripati & I sure got lucky to add one of the most amazing partners one could’ve dreamt of. Right from day zero he clearly upped the ante and quality of entrepreneurs and deals he sought — demanding more from each of us as we strive to build a unique organization. Its really been an amazing first year for Amit too and we’re delighted to have him on-board. During the year, my partner Bala went back to becoming an entrepreneur — something he’s done all his life. I’m excited for him and sure hope he repeats his prior successes with startups like SnapFish and achieves all his dreams as an entrepreneur!

We have really got an amazing team at Prime — in addition to the 3 partners we have an amazing marketing & PR team with Akhila & Andal, a terrific CFO in Tulsi, and superb office & admin support with Manjula & Bhavani. The attitude of the team has meant that we have been able to achieve a lot more with a lot less — and kept the work environment high performing, yet fun and low stress!

Shripati, Amit & I were fortunate to gain the trust of many of our existing investors and several new ones as we closed our new fund of 300 crores. Chamath Palihapitiya at Social Capital continued to be a great partner for us and anchored our fund which now has some amazing investors from around the world. We are truly excited by the quality of opportunities and entrepreneurs we are seeing here in India. We rebranded our fund as Prime Venture Partners — to reiterate our positioning as a seed-stage fund as opposed to an angel investor — and we’re now capable of writing much larger checks, although our philosophy of deep involvement remains.

The first half of this year was spent nurturing companies in our first fund, helping some of them raise further capital and raising our second fund. The second half was more focused on the launch of our new fund and early investments in the new fund.

All our companies gave us something to cheer about during the year — clearly the acquisition of ZipDial by Twitter being the marquee moment for all of us. Additionally Ezetap raised a strong round of 150 crores, HackerEarth, Happay, SmartOwner, Synup, Nimble Wireless & Vidgyor all made major progress in their markets. A few other companies we working with in stealth mode are also making amazing progress.

I also started playing a more active role with iSpirt — India is truly at an inflection point where new policies and platforms along with the widespread access to Internet via smartphones is going to change the world for ever. I also continued to be actively involved in the Nasscom Product Conclave — putting together a terrific session on Payments.

A highlight for me was being invited to present the awesome stuff we’re doing with Aadhaar and biometrics in India at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta — never in my wildest dreams did I expect to be presenting at the Fed of all places — sure was one of the highlights.

I’ve started enjoying blogging a lot more — whether I’m writing this note or about professional blogs I’m thoroughly enjoying putting my thoughts down. For some reason some of these have been interesting to people and I’m encouraged by the response.

On the personal front our only son Ashwin, got into college pursuing a unique bachelor’s degree in game development — we’re excited for him as he is passionate about the space and most importantly for us, he continues to stay at home and keep his parents and grandparents company during the next few years. I always wonder why kids want to leave home for undergrad — there is just no place like home!

Mom has been doing well — highlight of the year was an amazing speech she shared with the residents of Palm Meadows on Independence Day — to a rapt audience, she recounted her days as a 11-year old leading up to India’s Independence in 1947. A link to her exciting speech is here.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yigPvBuZ3CA

A few other thrills during the year:

  • Fulfilling a childhood dream of owning a Mercedes
  • Court-side seats at a Warriors game in Oakland thanks to Chamath

Our extended family is largely doing great — my sisters Rani & Meethu, brothers-in-law Swamy & Dutt & Chini, nieces Pooja & Geet, their husbands Pieter & Naren, nephew Sunny who is doing his PhD and Geet’s gorgeous children Reya & Chaithanyaa are keeping all of us busy. Mom is doing good, as is my mother-in-law. My father-in-law has pulled through 2015 bravely fighting Parkinsons in his own stubborn way.

2016 is a huge year in our family — starting with my mom and father-in-law turning 80, my sister, wife, nephew, son, niece’s hubby having milestone birthdays, my sister’s 40th anniversary and Tulsi and I celebrating our 25th anniversary. We’re all excited and eagerly looking forward to this year!

A few hiccups on the health front every now and then have kept all of us a bit honest but for the most part we’re ending this year happy and thankful for the year that has been. I’m most pleased however to have taken charge of my health this year — heeding a warning that I thankfully caught early enough. I’ve taken charge of diet and exercise, cut my weight down by 10–15% and am feeling a lot better about myself. I hope to continue this into 2016 and be more aggressive about my goals in this department!

Somewhere along the year, I’ve started feeling a lot more and more that life is measured by what we do for others. While I haven’t obsessed about it, I’m definitely more conscious about being in the lucky few who are in a position to help others. My association with my Rotary Club has definitely helped a lot — and I’ve had the privilege of meeting some amazing people (Saina Nehwal, Milkha Singh, PT Usha), working on amazing projects and helping people in the hundreds or thousands with things we take for granted. I’m definitely hoping to do a lot more in 2016 in this department too!

If you’ve gotten this far, thanks for reading my year-end summary.

I sincerely wish you and your families the very best for a happy, healthy and most importantly a contented 2016 — and look forward to another delightful year ahead!

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