Sheel Mohnot of BTV on The Power of Collaboration in Venture Capital
That Sheel Mohnot, Founding Partner of BTV, is a natural storyteller and a good hang, you can just figure that out with his Twitter feed and his track record of creating one of the most popular startup podcasts. That he also happens to be one of the sharpest minds in FinTech investing which makes him an exceedingly interesting guest.
This is a wide-ranging conversation that covers Sheel’s early days, what he learned as a founder, and how he’s grown as an investor. Enjoy!
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About Sheel Mohnot:
Sheel Mohnot is a founding partner of Better Tomorrow Ventures. Before BTV, Sheel was a Partner at 500 Startups, running the 500 FinTech Fund and the FinTech track within the San Francisco Accelerator program. His recent startup experience includes 2 successful FinTech exits – a payments company and a high-stakes auction company. He also created and hosted a podcast called The Pitch.
He formerly worked as a financial services consultant at BCG and did Microfinance work at the non-profit Kiva. Sheel holds an MBA from the University of Michigan and a BS from Carnegie Mellon.
In this episode we discuss:
(02:58) Sheel’s journey to becoming a FinTech investor
(07:55) How did growing up in India and around the world help shape him
(11:14) Sheel’s time at Fee Fighters and why they sold to Groupon
(13:33) What he learned at Groupon
(16:31) How the Pitch Podcast came to be
(18:58) Selling the podcast to Spotify
(20:58) How Sheel started as an Angel investor
(22:24) 500 FinTech as a stepping stone to becoming a VC
(25:05) His first fundraising experience
(28:30) Investing in BTV’s first company before they had finished fundraising
(30:18) How his investing journey has evolved
(32:22) The importance of being a sounding board for founders
(33:20) BTV’s investing thesis
(35:18) Who Sheel looks up to as investors
(36:29) Why VC needs to be collaborative
(37:28) The importance of partnership in the VC/Founder relationship
(38:56) Concrete things early-stage founders should ask from their VCs
(39:37) How power law informs all of VC and portfolio construction
(43:14) Lessons from Sheel’s anti-portfolio
(44:59) His stay with Brian Chesky at Airbnb LA
🎙- Favorite Podcast: Acquired
📰- Favorite Newsletter /Blog: Marginalrevolution
📈- Favorite New Trend: would it be crazy not to say AI?
📚- Favorite Book: Enders Game
🤔 - Favorite Life Lesson: "People don't want to do new things if they think they're going to be bad at them or people are going to laugh at them. You have to be willing to subject yourself to failure, to be bad, to fall on your head and do it again, and try stuff that you've never done in order to be the best you can be."