VC Corner Q+A: Shripriya Mahesh

Shripriya is a founding partner at Spero Ventures where she invests in mission-driven founders building a future that belongs to everyone.

Prior to Spero Ventures, she led Emerging Tech investing at Omidyar Network. Shripriya has been an active angel investor in, and board member or advisor to, private technology companies throughout her career. She formerly held several leadership roles at eBay including as Vice President of Product Marketing (US, revenue), and as Vice President of Global Product Management. Shripriya has an MBA from Harvard Business School, an MFA in Film from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, and a B.A. in Economics from Stella Maris College, Madras University.

Please enjoy this Q+A with Shripriya Mahesh.

Q&A:

What is your / your fund’s mission?

We invest in the things that make life worth living. Specifically, we focus on well-being (health/sustainability); work and purpose; human connections. We’d like to see a future that belongs to everyone and we invest in purpose-driven founders who build companies that scale and inspire.

What is one thing you are excited about right now?

We are really excited about a new generation of founders who are focused on solving large problems that will leave us all better-off. These are founders who know that it will take a long time but if they succeed, it will dramatically change our world for the better. These founders have an internal compass of purpose and we love that.

Who is one founder you think we should watch?

Matt Cooper at Skillshare is doing great work. Skillshare democratizes access to learning for the creative, independent class. They are growing really fast and going international, too. Matt is a phenomenal leader, someone who inspires his team, focuses on the right levers to grow the business and has the right moral compass.

What are 3 top qualities of every great leader?

  1. Integrity
  2. Driven by mission — understands that being purpose driven and intending to serve the population at scale requires building a large, independent, profitable business
  3. Accountability

What and when was your very first investment? What struck you about them?

My first institutional investment was in Jopwell in 2015. I loved that they were focused on ensuring that underrepresented candidates could advance their careers, and I was very impressed with Porter and Ryan, the co-founders. Opportunity is not evenly distributed and Jopwell is trying to fix that.

What is one question you ask yourself before investing in a company?

What could this company become?

What is one thing every founder should ask themselves before walking into a meeting with a potential investor?

Am I on time? (let’s not make everything serious :)

What do you think should be in a CEO’s top 3 company priorities?

This totally depends on the stage of the company. A seed company’s priorities are very different from a Series C company.

Favorite business book, blog or podcast?

Blog — Stratechery

What is your favorite thing to do when you’re not working?

Spend time with my family, read, watch movies made by my classmates

Who is one leader you admire?

There are so many great leaders that I admire, and they all share the 3 qualities I mentioned earlier: integrity, being mission-driven and accountability.

What is one interesting thing most people won’t know about you?

I attended graduate film school at NYU and while I was there, I directed James Franco and Jessica Chastain.

What is one piece of advice you’d give every founder?

Focus on building your business and not what others around you are doing. Forget FoMO.

Anything else you’d like to share?

It’s time we take more ownership of the impact our products have on the world.

How can startups reach you?

Startups interested in an opportunity to pitch Spero Ventures can apply here.