Trinity Ventures, the fund that got away — or maybe not

Anjula Acharia-Bath recently joined Trinity Ventures as a new partner after completing Trinity’s EIR program. The entrepreneur, Hollywood connector and brand-building expert explains why she feels entrepreneurs should get Trinity to back their next venture.

I’ve been an entrepreneur for the last 10 years and like all founders, I went around Sand Hill Road, pitched VCs, developed an opinion of each one, and then shared my thoughts with my founder friends (and, later on, with companies that I angel invested in).

It was probably about eight years ago now, but I remember walking out of Trinity after I pitched them for my series B financing for Desi Hits, knowing that as much as I thought there was great chemistry between us they probably wouldn’t fund me. I was right; they didn’t. In that first meeting, I’d met Ajay Chopra and I loved his true entrepreneurial spirit. In all honesty, he just seemed different from all the other VCs. It was quite simple — he was an entrepreneur and he got it; he felt my struggle and he knew my journey. I had this sinking feeling when I left: I thought they would be the fund that got away.

The funny part is, Ajay and I stayed in touch, mainly through Facebook. I loved his fun updates and his passion about the companies he’d funded. He’s a relentless promoter; whilst some of the other VCs were sharing pictures of their babies, Ajay was sharing pictures and articles of his other babies… his portfolio babies! Years later, we connected again through a mutual friend. Ajay and I had drinks, and I told him about how I loved his FB updates and how he championed his founders. He looked shocked — didn’t all VCs do that? (Well, I think we know the answer to that!) I laughed and told him that Trinity was the fund that got away. He told me that didn’t need to be the case. Ajay explained that Trinity values relationships and even though my first company wasn’t right for them at the time, it didn’t mean my next company wouldn’t be. The fact that we were here, years later, and I was asking his advice on my next move meant something. So, he told me about their EIR program.

Anjula Acharia-Bath, hosting a Trinity dinner to connect the firm with a diverse group of movers and shakers, stands with Keli Lee, Head of Casting and Talent for ABC Entertainment, and Trinity General Partner Ajay Chopra.

I have to be honest. In my mind, I had conjured up all of these false impressions of what I thought Trinity would be. I hoped for the best given my positive impression of Ajay, but you know how it is… we’re talking VC….what comes to mind is a bunch of people that have the same resumes. I mean, we all know diversity isn’t the industry’s strong point, and it certainly IS mine!

To my complete and wonderful surprise the GPs at Trinity are a diverse group of people. Not only are they different from the stereotypical VC, but as I got to know them, I found they were wonderfully different from each other. I don’t just mean they have different ethnic backgrounds and genders (which they do, and it’s fantastic!). I mean… they all have different points of views, which different races and genders normally do have (thank God!!). They are truly independent thinkers and Trinity embraces that.

As entrepreneurs, we should all care about this. When you become one of Trinity’s entrepreneurs, you join a family, really. One that cares about how you are different and helps you use it to your advantage. Like Karan Mehandru — when I first met him, he was like a bolt out of the blue, his energy is totally infectious and you just want to be on his team! Karan’s just really good at inspiring you to find out what makes your company unique and embracing exactly what makes you “different,” and then figuring out how to use it and work it! 😉 His founders have told me how he’s tireless at finding solutions for them, and consistently motivates them to “punch above their weight class.”

There are so many firms in the Valley that have all of the same kind of people in their partnership. I remember when I first started talking to VCs. I kept hearing that I didn’t have the “right pedigree.” Well, as Dan Scholnick (who I call the secret ninja because he’s invested in the hottest companies that no one saw coming — Docker and New Relic, to name a few. I had to name drop because that’s what we do in Hollywood!) said, I just have a “different pedigree,” a pedigree that can create unique and valuable connections, and bring more diverse people to the fund. It was my difference and untraditional background that attracted Trinity to me, and their diverse opinions and views that attracted me to them.

Dan with New Relic CEO Lew Cirne. Dan couch surfed on Lew’s futon in the summer of 1999, back when he was Lew’s intern at a previous company, Wily Technology. Lew turned to Dan for advice on product and product strategy even after Dan left his company. Dan’s investment in New Relic was the result of a deep mutual respect for one another.

Having a firm where all the partners have similar backgrounds tends to mean one-sided feedback and a homogeneous conversation. Let’s face it, in today’s rapidly changing, fast-paced world, no one wants that! Why would any company only want one point of view? I’m betting your users aren’t only one kind of person, and social media is dominated by women (don’t you know?), so women rule 👊

We actually have three female partners (I know, whaaat?!), including Patricia Nakache (named one of the most influential women in tech!). She is set on unearthing the next great company, no matter how out there it may seem. She has the conviction and courage to believe, invest early and take a chance when no one else will. She did just that with ThredUP CEO James Reinhart, who was rejected 27 times before he met Patricia!

The Trinity GPs celebrate their differences: You only have to meet Gus Tai to see that at Trinity we really CELEBRATE our differences. My nickname for Gus is the “Anti-VC.” Why? Because Gus doesn’t want to hear from an entrepreneur when they are fundraising. His approach is different and unique and you just can’t argue with it because it’s spawned a slew of billion dollar exits. Gus uses his crazy awesome, holistic intuition to explain to us how he really feels about a deal and, well… life!

The Anti-VC-turned-minister! Gus officiated the wedding of Connected founders Sachin Rekhi (former Trinity EIR) and Ada Chen when they tied the knot in 2010. Gus had gotten to know Sachin over a few years and they clearly formed a strong bond that went beyond the boardroom.

These cool, caring people are the reasons I joined Trinity. They understand entrepreneurs and they recognize that our differences make us great. If that’s the kind of investor you want, come check out what we do. Trinity Ventures Fund XII is waiting! We can’t wait to hear from you!