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Social Impact Entrepreneurship: A Panel Discussion.

❝Here in Silicon Valley it’s almost fashionable to start a company❞.

❝Do you wake up at night thinking about the problem, about how to potentially solve it?❞ ~ Ashmeet Sidana 


Of Firms

❝have implemented a Diversity Strategy (against 32% in 2018)❞ ~ www.techcrunch.com


Of all Doctors

❝who were going to use our Product, Program were Women❞ ~ Karthik Rajan

❝Google was started when there were 100 other search engines already active❞ ~ Ashok Ramaswami.

Social Impact Entrepreneurship: A Panel Discussion.


In this talk, our panel of entrepreneurs, engineers, and VCs kick off the Ethics4NextGen AI Inaugural Summit Mentoring Program by advising participants on what it takes to found a successful start-up business and the challenges they have faced raising seed finance, as well as providing us with an insight into their start-up success stories in the healthcare, software and non-profit space.



 00:00  let’s start with Ankur please tell us a little bit about yourself, all right so I hope it’s the first one to go so yeah my name is Ankur Jan I’m a founder of a seed stage firm called Emergent Ventures um we invest in what we call intelligent software which is companies typically leveraging data more intelligently whether using techniques like AI or otherwise across the enterprise, typically things like sales, marketing, HR, operations site infrastructure, logistics, some of these companies are horizontal some are more vertical and where often the first institutional investors in these companies typically writing checks up to you know one, one and a half million dollars as a leader or co-lead investor in these early stage companies um we have portfolio about 25 plus companies uh we’ve been we’re about four-year-old firm and one of the key focus areas for us is companies leveraging emerging tech hubs to develop product um so a lot of our companies are leveraging places like India Austin Atlanta we’ve got a company out of Nebraska, but we like companies leveraging the silicon valley mind-set and sometimes they’ll have part of the team here but bulk of the team and product has been developed outside the valley in uh some of the emerging tech hubs that’s one of our areas we’ve developed good expertise in

01:23  very cool thank you encore Ashok would you like to go next sure I am uh probably the uh the non-VC on the panel I fixed the former VC on the panel so I am an entrepreneur I run a software company called Sequence, we provide software that companies use, start-ups use to create their financial projections so when they need to go raise money or get a bank loan we have users who have raised millions in loans or they need to create a budget and track performance we also work with uh some non-profit organizations so we’re familiar with uh how those things work for them so that’s my background I have a background in tech and finance and very much look forward to the questions

02:06 thank you ashok I’ve known all of you guys since such a long time and it’s an honour to have you on this panel and to actually get to talk to you that’s awesome yeah um karthik would you like to connect so I am an operator as well and a non-vc in this panel uh as well welcome there’s life after vc, yeah so I’m a single entrepreneur as well uh, right now I run the healthcare practice for a company called sky flow prior to this I co-founded two companies uh one was suki which makes a digital assistant for doctors uh to help them with their administrative tasks and their documentation uh I’ve been in enterprise tech for the past 20 years 15 years in sas was early in Salesforce built out most of their data platform and infrastructure then I spent a couple of years at Oracle building out that big data business in the public cloud before making the shift into healthcare so spent a year as a vc as an eir doing investments uh before uh jumping into an operating role right and starting sookie uh yeah so that’s my background 

03:30 wow and you have the best mural I must say it’s awesome thank you it’s 10 years old so it’s really cool very pretty yeah Ashmit would you like to go next thank you I don’t know how to describe myself as a venture capitalist or an operator because I’ve done both those jobs but usually I describe myself as an engineer because I’m really a geek a nerd at heart I studied operating systems which is near and dear to me and now I run engineering capital which is a venture capital firm focused on software companies where there is still a technical risk, in other words, they are doing something technically challenging technically innovative in software and we are typically the first investor in fact I’m the first investor in my entire portfolio right now so if you were to visit my website all those companies and very happy to be here today thank you 

04:25 yeah so thank you smith for that and uh I think Juliet Murray is having some technical difficulty because she said she is on it,  but she’s not so we will figure that out one of the moderators could you please call her and make sure she has the right to join modern yes thank you all right so let’s get started with this is awesome um what kind of questions do we have for our esteemed panelists 

05:10 so I know that some of the community members had questions,  one of them started with like how do you differentiate between like or even choose a path like corporate ladder versus when is the right time to start your own venture like what are your thoughts on that I’ll pass the mic to each and every one,  so I think that would make a fascinating I still do you want to go yeah sure uh I you know I think that uh entrepreneurship is really hard so it’s uh it’s not something you should enter into lightly and I would say that um a good idea is not uh it’s a necessary but not sufficient condition for you to get into it so you need to make sure that you uh have some degree of or some ability to continue uh for some period of time uh because you’re going to have a lot of the load on your shoulder so uh so I think that’s uh it’s when you’re very young and uh you know you do it in a certain way that that might work Juliet Murray come again Susanna okay we do uh are you on the panel already can you mute yourself please okay sure sorry so anyway so that that that’s my overall thought I think uh you know if uh you if you have the ability then then go for it and there are different entrepreneurs do it differently and uh but you should be prepared for a rough ride it’s not uh it’s not for the faint of heart, that’s not that’s not to say you shouldn’t do it uh that’s to just say that uh you know don’t compound the difficulty of building an enterprise with your difficulty of your personal situation 

07:06 so yeah let me build one yeah okay yeah go ahead I was going to jump in and build on what Ashok says because I think I agree with the sentiment that he is describing I myself started and ran a company for five years, that’s why I have gray hair now I used to have black hair before that so I know how hard it is uniformly distributed though so that’s pure luck genetics I guess but you know I want to build on what you said ashok uh because it is very hard to start a company and most companies don’t actually succeed and especially here in silicon valley it’s almost fashionable to start a company it’s almost taken for granted that you should start a company the reality is 95 of the people should never start a company; starting a company is for the outsiders it’s for the underdogs, it’s for the underdogs that is the reality of where those true crazy start-up stories come from,  that said it’s always a good time to start a company if you decide that you want to do it people tell me good companies are started in downturns good companies are started in the middle of a boom good companies are started at the at the bottom of a downturn Netflix was started in 1998 right at the heart of the dot com boom cisco Microsoft was started in the middle of the greatest depressions recessions that we had seen in the economy so there’s no particular time from an external factor when you should start companies google was started when there were 100 other search engines already active in terms of a competitive landscape so whatever dimension you look at there is no right or wrong time to start a company except when you have it on the inside when you have that conviction when things come together that require and desire you to go down this very difficult path 

09:00 yeah uh just to add a little bit more touch means that I made this transition in 2016 and I thought long and hard about it right uh especially kind of going into healthcare you know if you think that building a company is hard multiply that by 10 to 15x right that’s how the healthcare market is and how healthcare entrepreneurship is because a normal sale might be a couple of months um in a regular start-up it’s like 18 to 20 months in healthcare right I think the key thing here is the obsession and the passion right do you wake up at night thinking about the problem about how to potentially solve it uh are you obsessed enough to keep up to date with everything that’s happening in terms of literature in terms of innovation in that space right without that obsession and passion and patience to kind of like see through difficult times and get it right uh it’s very hard to be an entrepreneur right some absolute high days when you know you think that you’re king of the world and you sign your first customer you get your pay check they’re absolutely like low days right when you hear that say Microsoft or apple or google is kind of like trying to take this on and customers are going to them right so you have to have like more of an even keel to be able to modulate yourself across all these things and the only way you’re going to have that is that belief and that passion for that problem

10:28 um I will just add you know one two cents more to that you know I would just classify companies under two kinds of categories which I think is a uh important for entrepreneurs to think on that one is you know I work for a law firm and I’m leaving to start my own law firm I’m working for accounting firm I’m working for id services from and those are one kind of companies and that’s one kind of intention um when we’re talking down the venture context of certain kind of companies these are companies usually there are certain box that you have to define usually you have to be number one or two in those boxes to survive and thrive otherwise eventually you perish and for those kinds of companies it is not just you’re not doing it primarily just to make a living there’s a whatever you define as a key mission of the company you just have to go non-stop and press the gas for a very long time can you essentially have to be a leader or one of leaders in that otherwise the company will so what those kind of companies I think what ashok was talking about you need to really have a very strong I would say a burning why this needs to happen and why you should be doing it right now otherwise that that momentum and the uh you run out of gas after a certain point of time if you don’t uh you have that

11:38  here’s a quick test you can use if you want to confirm whether it’s a good time for you to start a company or not make a list of all the things that you have in your current life today that you are willing to give up to do this start-up and if that list is very short I don’t think you’re ready are you willing to give up weekends are you willing to give up a good salary are you willing to give up your retirement plan are you willing to give up uh perhaps a certain number of friends that you have in your life, uh you know those are painful choices you will have to make if you are going to be a great entrepreneur 

12:15 yeah do I add to a Schmidt’s list vacations right vacations financial security yeah that is a great discussion I see Juliet Murray is here now hello hi welcome Juliet Marie hello wonderful so I’ll be we just had a round of discussion and a round of introductions and we started with the first question on when is a good time to start a company follow corporate career versus you know to chase your dreams is there the right time to do it so Juliette Murray you’re leading the panel I’m going to let you lead the continue the discussion here

13:02  great so has everyone had a chance to share with us the uh the concern about diversity and inclusion we have not gone we’ve not discussed that yet okay can we share with the audience whether or not you have a diversity an inclusion built into your investment thesis and if you do why do diversity and inclusion matter?

13:39  I’m happy to go first the short answer is yes but not in the way most people think about diversity which may be for example demographics uh diversity we talk about race we talk about geography etc. I think diversity is incredibly important in the start-up ecosystem for entrepreneurship but it’s a different type of diversity are you an underdog are you an outsider are you an independent thinker are you a true believer are you someone who has the courage of their convictions to be a contrarian that is the true form and it’s a different form of diversity which I think is the underpinnings of silicon valley of entrepreneurship etc. that often also comes with other types of diversity that we sort of more typically talk about for example there’s a correlation between a lot of companies being started by immigrants um certainly that happens to be a nice correlation but in my opinion that’s just a correlation not causation the true core the true causes here are that ability to think outside be fundamental be contrarian etc. 

14:44 I will say that in our case it is uh I mentioned about you know we a lot of our focus is on investing companies which are building product out of emerging tech hubs uh which could be other parts outside the valley could be parts I mentioned in the u.s we have one company of all places out of Lincoln Nebraska or Austin Atlanta we have many a lot of our companies a building provider of places like India so we are certainly see that both from a business perspective I think there’s access to great talent in many of the geographies um outside the course of the second valley ecosystem as well as I think it also provides greater economic uh opportunity uh in those areas so we see both of uh it has a dual impact in those in those geos and in my own personal um you know journey I before I uh you know between my careers at different venture firms I started a company which was developing sustainable pesticides which is not my background at all I mostly saw your software but some of the topics we talked about was around a strong building passion which I thought was a comp area that needed some the world needed something and I um felt that’s something I wanted to do and I joined in that and then I we actually of all places had a team out of rural Iowa and then we had court in silicon valley but most of our team was in rural Iowa and we had people from very different backgrounds in that company we had given a significant part of our equity to a non-profit that we care about so the whole idea of like inclusion diversity is certainly an important part of the lens of how we look at the world

16:23  well that’s something in terms of diversity and the founding team right just to kind of talk from a personal example so we were trying to start a company in healthcare solving a problem for clinicians right and the team was basically two technologists but it was fundamentally important to have a diverse team both in terms of background and in terms of skill sets and in terms of like race right for example uh 50 of all doctors who were going to use our product program women right and we were two male founders who were trying to start the company so we made a conscious effort to kind of bring in somebody who had like who had that perspective into the team right like I think diverse teams make really more compelling products and you need that expertise and the diversity and background to kind of make a good product for example one of our key engineers he was actually a game designer right he had no background enterprise sas or anything else but he had a game design background right and he brought that into the picture another person was a travel blogger right uh and she liked to go to like all these uh very interesting hard-to-reach places like north Korea and others and that brought in a unique fist to our product right so I think diversity is what makes start-ups create really compelling products that appeal to all that user base right um and not just another typical cookie cutter that any other company would create 

17:56 great um is there anyone else would like to share I will just add a very brief thought which is that um you know this uh diversity is uh is a critical element to make up for lost time and for past practices that were not fair I think it’s those who have the ability to influence that I think it’s important to keep that in mind and we just have many opportunities in our daily lives to think along those lines and I think it’s important

18:38 right and I’m a part of TechCrunch uh this year and it’s uh it’s a virtual event and this morning one partner said that she arrived here in silicon valley 20 years ago and it took years almost two decades before her company um had a female partner or a partner of us who’s a minority of diversity so the good thing about this panel is all of us have been here in silicon valley probably for a good period of time it’s only taken sort of the death of George Floyd for a lot of the top venture capital firms here in silicon valley to really say I don’t have any black founders in my portfolio I don’t have enough women representation in my portfolio I don’t have enough you know immigrants represented in my portfolio so is it really important for them to continue to take the lead to wish for diversity and inclusion

20:20 well I’ll tell you a brief uh anecdote uh that I heard from a highly successful Indian entrepreneur uh and he uh when he was starting his company this was about 25 years ago when he started his company since then he has done exceedingly well he’s one of the pioneers and he goes to a venture capitalist and says hey this is my plan and I’m seeking venture funding and he had a really good plan and you know the venture capitalist uh looked at him and said you know we’ve actually never funded a an Indian-led company and uh this actually goes actually more than 25 years this is probably more than 35 years or so and uh and he said that the next thing he said was and I think it’s about time and he wrote a check so there is uh you know it’s not um there’s change uh that that happened at different points in time and hopefully that was uh that would change again but yes the short answer the question is absolutely there’s no reason uh that should not be the case where they seek to uh you know look for and encourage and bring on board and promote and pay well and do all the things that they should be doing for people who are not as well represented


21:47 good um anyone else with insights to share now I’ll just add that I think what uh the way what many investors realize is about focusing on building a diverse set of networks so they’re able to see entrepreneurs from different backgrounds and you know currently they may or may not have access to those networks but being more thoughtful in building the networks to be able to uh get to make sure that entrepreneurs are able to reach you from different uh backgrounds, I think that is something certainly many investors are realizing and I think uh you know for a different extent but investors are taking efforts to make that uh make that a reality

22:39  great um can we spend some time talking about how venture capital tends to validate a company and why venture capital funding matters to a lot of start-ups? sure I mean I’ll you know as a practicing venture capitalist I often describe the act of taking venture capital raising money partnering with a venture capitalist as a package deal in other words it is not just a set of dollars that is going to flow from an investor into the company but in the best of circumstances it truly is a partnership and yes you are bringing validation in other words there is a signal that here are some people who believe in me here are people who believe that I’m going to generate high returns because that is the goal of venture capital they are staking their reputation with you and so there is a flow and there is an association that comes with that and then there is all the help that comes the network that a venture capitalist may help you there is the advice that comes in terms of actually sharing your own thought processes venture capitalists will roll up their sleeves and sometimes work with you in ways that are quite deep and quite extensive um just yesterday we saw the ipo for snowflake that’s a company that you know today it’s trading at 60 billion or 70 billion dollars um that’s a company that was incubated inside a venture capital firm where the general partners of the venture capital firm act as the ceo of the company uh multiple times I mean that’s part of the model of that venture capital firm so I would I would summarize it by saying absolutely there is huge signal in it but signal again is does not guarantee a result best of venture capitalists have invested in companies that have not succeeded it just means that you are getting some help there’s a correlation there is a there is a directional indication at the end of the day companies win or lose based on their own efforts and their own success and so don’t confuse success with raising venture capital but yes it will help you and yes it is a signal when you can raise high quality venture capital 

24:54 great thank you I would say there are two key um aspects right I think uh the venture capital investment is good validation on you as an entrepreneur uh but the true measure of uh success and the true measure of uh like really validating that what you’re building is valid is useful is two things one is actually deploying something and seeing a customer use it right and two when people find value enough to actually pay you for it, right I actually think the first check that you get for your product is a lot more important than the first uh VC dollar that kind of comes in right in fact uh not all companies are meant for venture capital uh that’s another whole discussion but the most important validation that you as an entrepreneur get is the first check that you get from your customer and the first time they use their product and they see value and they go like okay I can’t live without it right like I think those uh in my opinion are two bigger keys to uh in entrepreneur satisfaction and validation than a VC check great 

26:14 anyone else I would just uh you know echo whatever Schmidt was saying that uh the role of a VC you know for companies which are on a path to become uh on a high growth trajectory the recipe book is often about doing few things but doing them really well and many entrepreneurs instinctively when they think about doing big that think about doing many things so one role of a VC which we often play is about helping them think through what are the things they should not be doing as an entrepreneur, uh you know you should often have to narrow down your focus you have to pick what your core competency is and that’s many times counter-thesis to many entrepreneurs when they think about building something big uh but that’s again uh and investors who’ve been to that journey with many companies, uh you know play a unique role there

27:18 let me share one other perspective uh from the and bring in bring in again this element of diversity which we started the conversation with by asking the following question which I believe every entrepreneur and vc should ask themselves which is what is your goal for in this case diversity for example why are you thinking about it what are you doing for a venture capitalist i think diversity increases returns so you should seek it out because it is your job to seek high returns and therefore it is it is something that you should actively look for from that perspective,  but you may have a different goal you may have a political goal in terms of improving society you may have a social science goal in terms of making the world a better place that is a perfectly valid goal for people to have but my mentor Catherine Gould who was the founder you know a woman venture capitalist the first woman to start a venture capital firm here in silicon valley uh and we would often this question would often be asked of her and she would say look if you want to make the world a better place there are better and more direct ways of doing it than either entrepreneurship or venture capital you can be a lawyer you can be a politician you can be a police person there are many you can you can be active in human rights there are many other vehicles and approaches available to you your job as an entrepreneur is to build a company and to build the greatest and the best company that you can that is really the job of an entrepreneur and in so far as diversity helps you in that that is the way you have that’s the lens through which you have to evaluate uh that particular you know that that particular question it turns out that it actually helps and so that’s you know a fortuitous circumstance that we find ourselves 

29:03 up great and I like how you shared that venture capitalist and fisher capital firms they’re not just there to write the checks but they’re there to offer the resources they’re there to be the mentors as a final sort of round of questions before we go into q a can you each share the most memorable mentoring experience that you’ve had with entrepreneurs

29:42  in fairness I think this question should be asked of our entrepreneurs who we have mentored so I don’t know if I should give examples where I was mentored by my mentors I mentioned Catherine Gould earlier where she was you know a tremendous influence on my life in terms of teaching me venture capital in terms of showing me you know what is a way in which a venture capitalist practices their craft I have certainly tried to do the same with my mentees but then there I am not acting as a venture capitalist there I’m acting as an operating executive as someone who previously ran a company who’s trying to help them either recruit a person sell a customer shape a product perhaps get an acquisition done etc. and those are the roles that stand out I’m trying to think of one very memorable uh anecdote which I can share with you but nothing is popping in right now so I’ll give my fellow panelists some time to see if they have an anecdote they’d like to share 

30:45 yes sure I asked because I think it will generate ideas from the audience when we open up the q an I’ll share my uh my view um I was a senior banker with a large investment bank I mentored three minority analysts financial analysts and I, you know taught them whatever I knew in finance and helped them in their application all three ended up at top business schools and have done very well since so it’s really very gratifying when you are able to do I also wrote recommendations from I usually write recommendations only for people that I actually know and so I was able to write very personable and very powerful uh letters, of course, they had great backgrounds, to begin with, but you know that extra help I think was also beneficial so 

31:45 good thank you so for me I think it kind of boils down to uh two things right like being a coach for them not uh fishing for them but teaching them how to fish right like using the common analogy there, uh and sometimes when you kind of uh and investing time in them and being there for them whenever they need you right I think those are the two main things that I really value about uh my mentoring experience and specifically this is one uh founder a minority funder that I was mentoring and you know he had this fairly massive challenge in front of him right in healthcare he didn’t know how to kind of go through or he had like too many options he didn’t know how to decide and part of being a mentor is sometimes you see and you have a strong opinion to say that this is what you should do and here’s why you should do it right, but if you do that you’re not being a true mentor right like so you hold back then you try to ask in the right series of questions to kind of get to the right outcome right and invariably when you do that you learn something yourself uh about yourself in terms of the what you kind of like thought about it and in this particular scenario we went through uh discussions he spent like three to four hours a week over a fiery period to finally get him to a point where he came out with a suggestion and he came out with an outcome which even blew my own expectations right um and that company now is a super successful mental health company out there right it’s not something I’d anticipated it’s not something that he’d anticipated it’s being able to leverage your time and uh coach people to do something that you know they themselves are not thought possible and being able to do that with founders is uh where I derive the most pleasure

33:50 good thank you well one uh story I have to share is so I’m quite uh passionate about yoga and meditation it’s a big part of my life I spend about a couple of hours on that every day and it’s been made a huge difference to my quality of life and my effectiveness at work and many other aspects of life and one of the things I share with our entrepreneurs is that normally they’re so busy just doing stuff you know they’re obviously there’s no shortage of the to-do list is never ending to this but about how important is it to invest time on themselves on their own growth making sure uh they have a healthy uh mind and body to be able to be effective leaders for their organizations and to one of who I invested in many years ago um I had shared that and then uh he was motivated by my sharing to you know take on that same program and then uh he felt a lot of benefit his company was eventually acquired by VMware was a good successful exit and he went later on shared that particular that time he invested on his was such a critical part of his journey as an entrepreneur that he would not have made it had it not been for that investment of time so that was very gratifying um you know for me to hear that 

35:05  good I think I’ve got an anecdote finally so let me jump in with uh yes with what I think made a huge impact in one case I have a ceo happens to be a woman first time ceo so we are clearly you know checking some boxes over here but that’s like I said is mostly a coincidence and right after I made the investment on the very first conversation that we had I said to her make mistakes it is part of your job to make mistakes she was surprised that was obvious that was not what she was expecting that was not what sort of where the conversation she thought would go and I said that’s let’s just you know I’m with you the reason I’ve invested is because I believe in you I am here because I believe we have a great opportunity but no opportunity is perfect and no execution is perfect mistakes are part of your job you have my support to go and take risks and I believe that I made a material impact on the path that that company is following and the success of this ceo in her trajectory and it’s still unproven I can’t point and say that you know this is what the outcome was but I do feel very passionately that that was the right advice and is the right relationship between a venture capitalist and their ceo 

36:21  excellent thank you well shall we open it up to q a now,  yeah I think so we have some questions so people do you want to ask all right um, hi I’m Eva I currently work at deloitte and I’m also really passionate about ai and healthcare and the ethical ai space um so just to like revisit the conversation on diversity, um I’m just wondering if there’s more to this lens because like I see in my own work so for example like women start-ups receive three percent of the funding but they make double the revenue um and then when we talk about women especially in corporate America I’ve seen in like women in tech groups we struggle with oh I don’t play golf I don’t watch sports how do we network I’ve had black co-workers who are going back to get their masters or their PhD because their values are regarded as less in comparison to their peers and then when we talk about like checking boxes I think diversity is more than that because when you have people all of it of a similar racial ethnic background you’re missing out on a network you’re missing out on consumers you’re missing out on opportunities to make your product like better in terms of delivering value to your consumers so and then also when we talk about venture capital you’re investing in these firms by offering mentorship you’re offering funding you’re offering resources especially in the tech space a lot of these companies are doing work in ai ethics so these things like really do kind of trickle down by not by choosing like not to actively pass the ladder down and make your own approach to investing more diverse 

38:23 are you still at Deloitte or have you set up a company I’m I just finished my first year at Deloitte, I’m still here any plans to set up a company um I’m considering right now going back to school to get my Ph.D. um but I’m hoping to continue down this path in ethical AI

38:43 great thank you yes uh one of the audience questions we got in the chat um is that what role can for-profit start-ups plan in promoting social good they are intrinsic and fundamental to promoting society you know we live in a capitalist society the rules of capitalism were identified you know hundreds of years ago and the reality is a lot of good comes from that that has been the greatest force for lifting people out of poverty for empowering people for creating social societies that are more meritocratic again that doesn’t mean that they are perfect that doesn’t mean that there aren’t problems or there aren’t issues that come with it or that doesn’t have to be regulated but certainly capitalism and for-profit is a very powerful force which can be harnessed in whatever way that we choose to harness it for but yes absolutely

39:50  so I mean I would just also add to that one of the key drivers of why you create a company is often because there’s certain values you care  a lot about or there’s a certain impact you want to drive in the world that you care deeply about which is why you’re starting a company so a number of entrepreneurs I know who are running you know for-profit start-ups but are deeply driven by creating a certain social impact or whatever they care about um so I don’t see there’s a disconnect between them um the word for profit just means that there’s an economic they’re also making an economic the viable venture which can uh sustain itself now to what extent do you what is the trade-off that you make between economics and other objectives you have I would say that is a contract between the owners of the company and there so you as a founder need to choose the right and right shareholders in the company who are aligned with your mission and the right balance um and the trade-offs you’re making and as long as you’re doing that you’re choosing the right shareholders who are aligned with whatever trade-off you’re making I would say they can both be uh accomplished in a very comfortable way I’ve that was for example when I did my own start-up that was my our goal and we accomplished that in terms of how we achieved our shareholder base but I felt that something that could be very doable thank you

41:13  I want to I want to just address Eva’s point I think she uh was basically saying that that there is a group of people who feels excluded because they’re not part of the network and that is a hundred percent true uh there’s no doubt that’s the case and uh I myself I’m a member of a fairly prominent club in san Francisco and I was walking down the hall I am a member and there’s another member who was walking the opposite direction and asked me if they can help me clearly assuming that I’m just walking down the halls with no purpose right so uh so I think that that is absolutely the case and there uh there are a couple of strategies that people I think should think about in terms of addressing this one is on the part of the people who might unconsciously or subconsciously or even deliberately do that I think there needs to be just a an awareness of uh you know how what they can do to be more inclusive on the other side I would say that you know this is going to take a fair amount of work uh and it’s going to take a fair amount of commitment and I think there are a lot of excellent people in all different uh backgrounds so I think it’s going to take a lot of work on both parts to rectify it but there is definitely a part of the system that is inaccessible to other people and uh and that’s just the way it is today and how it gets fixed down the road that remains to be seen 

42:51 just to add a little bit more to what Ashok said right I think there are some things that we can do as entrepreneurs and investors to kind of remove that implicit bias in this like whether it’s uh doing like blind resume scans to make sure we bring in people that we don’t let uh you know the call or the name influence our decision making right I’ve even tried this once where I’ve started to remove like the team’s light from uh pitch text right so don’t put a name to it like just let this problem and the solution stand in its own merit right and see what I’m going to say that so kill the team slide I think those are things that we can do uh both as entrepreneurs and operators as well as investors to kind of uh really promote and let the idea shine and the problems shine or bringing in all these implicit biases right like uh I think that’s one thing

43:45 I do want to kind of go back to that uh the social good thing um you know uh I spent a lot of time at salesforce and I really saw mark kind of promote uh the social enterprise and how the business of uh companies right now is to actually do good right like uh I think if we look at it most of the social pushback has come from ceos right in these past three years they’ve led the way in terms of banning things they’ve led the way in terms of making more inclusive they’ve led the way in terms of even bringing the overall mass mandate right like I think the ceo’s role has now become a lot more important as a social leader and not just as a co-operate leader,  right and one of the things that I really took away from his philosophy which I would encourage every entrepreneur to kind of deploy is the one model right so salesforce’s one model basically says that one percent of your employees time one percent of your profits right and one person’s your products you want to kind of like pump it back for social good into the start-up ecosystem right and we did this right 


44:48 now so, for example, one percent of all the products that we created suki we started giving it out free uh to uh these remote health workers right who are traveling uh across various parts of the country to kind of uh provide health care for free right to people who can move and we just gave our product away for free and that was very eye-opening because one there is this innate sense of happiness when you see these people use it right so it brings that personal connection saying your products being used to do something good and also selfishly it also makes your product better, right you learn something new you learn various use cases which kind of makes you a better company and a better product in service for everybody so anybody who’s really thinking about uh entrepreneurship, I would really encourage you to kind of deploy the one-on-one model very early in your journey and make that a core part of your DNA excellent


45:45 um I love how you shared with us about mark because not only is he a great philanthropic leader in the corporate tech world but he’s a catalyst because a year ago or two years ago the tech billionaires were laughing at him for being so philanthropic and so transparent about being a good tech company and then at the start of this year I was just I was impressed with how that knock-on effect has happened I mean with jack Darcy donating a billion dollars this year to the rapid covid global response and then talking about educating girls and the health of girls you know all of that really came from mark’s leadership so thank you for sharing


46:53 Mary I think this is very interesting so we took a seed check from mark right like when I was starting this company went to him and we talked about this and I distinctly remember uh soon after he cut the check he emailed saying have you done this yet have you deployed one-on-one right and I think I actually met him that was his very first question right so if one thing to say something it’s another it’s super important to follow up and make sure it actually gets done which I think is something I really appreciate about him absolutely thank you


47:29 Julian Murray I think Pamela has a question she wanted to ask hi everyone can you hear me yes Pamela oh great okay um so I used my question I’m sitting here listening to everyone thank you Shelby for this wonderful conference and everyone all of the panellists for your insights and your experience and leadership um but I’m sitting here listening to everyone and honestly as a 30-year veteran technologist I’m feeling a bit of a disconnect um with what I’m hearing um I’m an african-american woman and I’ve worked in technology for over 30 years I’m also a private airplane pilot a helicopter pilot and soon to be author I’m developing a framework for ai risk ethics and my experience with most Asian men and most Asians in general is that they’re racist against black Americans they discriminate they don’t view us as equal they don’t invite us to lunch oh my god I’ve never been invited to lunch by someone who was Indian and I’m in my 50s in the new York city area which I think goes to the young lady’s point about social connections um in my churches in our black and African American museums I don’t see people who look like you never um it’s as if um so I think that there is a there’s definitely uh a cultural bias and you know many of my black friends in tech have told and shared with me the same thing that that many Indian and Asian men are incredibly discriminatory um to say that diversity is not about race or gender but that it’s about mind-set is an appropriation of the term diversity was born out of the civil rights movement in this united states which was meant to be a primary benefit to a marginalized groups particularly African Americans um it’s not a term that says you know where she likes to wear you know she likes jazz music and he likes blues music so we have a diverse group of thinkers on the team it relates to primarily race and gender cultural background

50:52 sorry to interrupt you is there a question um for the panellists here and we are hold on hold on, I wouldn’t necessarily interrupt her at this juncture but I think Pamela do you mind if I if I kind of because we only have three minutes left and i think what they what they’re trying to do is allow for you to answer and give this panelist the answer um do you I what is your response that’s the question I don’t have a specific let me jump in very quickly can I can I can I can I just put this in there,  all right based on what you said um I am an inventor who lives in silicon valley, um I’ve got several patents the pedigree of my lives is we own the patent for the hashtag that’s how far advanced we generally are in our work and we’ve, I’ve personally seen everything that um Pamela is talking about so one of the things that I would love to know and understand I think Pamela is asking is what are you and your company doing to make inroads and diversity in your um in your portfolios of your companies no that’s the problem you’re not speaking for me I’m speaking for me I don’t need you to paraphrase what I’m saying or speak for that that’s an example of mansplaining let me ask and answer my ass ask my own question my question wasn’t how are you using this in your portfolio of your vc we only have two minutes to your point my question is simply what is your response to my to my heartfelt statements I’m not looking for money from you if I wanted money I’m going to black people I’m not looking to go to lunch or socialize I don’t need you but I’m sharing with you an experience that many people are feeling and thinking especially with kamala Harris now as potential vice president, but we’re not cr we’re not talking blacks don’t view Indians as our friends if you’ve never heard that then remember my name and you’ve heard it now and my question simply is what are your thoughts on it thank you 


53:31  Pamela it’s a very deep question and since we have very limited time, I’ll just say this is not an area that I personally have studied it is there are certainly lots of people who are better qualified and more experienced in understanding this, but certainly, the problems that you say exist and I will acknowledge them and accept that some of those problems exist that we can debate the degree to which they exist and what the solutions are but that doesn’t obviate the other elements which also exist at the same time in terms of how silicon valley works or how companies are built or what’s important in a company both are simultaneously true

54:14 does any of the other panelists have something to add please do so like we are running out of time do you have any insights or our answer to Pamela’s question?


54:30  I will only say that first of all I greatly appreciate you sharing your thoughts and I can certainly uh relate to them, um and as far as the Indian culture goes I will say that the whatever discrimination you uh might have noticed from colleagues who are of Indian background I don’t think it’s limited only to one class of people uh India of course, as you may know, was the sort of the birthplace of the caste system and uh so discrimination of that kind is a long history in India and it persists to this day

55:12 uh so it’s not to uh you know condone or make that acceptable in any way I’m just uh saying that that’s the cultural background and some of it may be carrying it some of some people may be carrying it, uh I personally have a lot of black friends but uh you know I don’t I’m not want to overgeneralize that there are people who are extremely good and there are some people who are not that good and that’s the background and so I think that might be what you might have observed and on behalf of my Indian friends I would like to uh even though I don’t think of myself as representing the community I would like to invite you to lunch next time you are in the bay area and let’s solve that problem once and for all 


56:01  yeah I’m saying this to lighting to make you feel better yeah I i think she brought I think Pamela brought up a very valid point um is a melting pot America and as a melting pot we really need to have more solidarity um I appreciate her sharing and uh and I think I think it comes from that that real need you know we don’t need to be divisive we don’t need to be in our different clubs and cliques um, I mean we’re stronger together I mean if anything that’s what covered has taught us all, we were in this together and you know she spent 30 years in the tech space and ecosystem and I think we all want to be included yes this has been such an awesome panel and uh great discussion I think we definitely need to be honest uh starting with you know having such honest discussions and not shy away from them that is the first step to bringing change um and I’m grateful to everyone uh the panellists, Juliette Murray the moderator excellent moderation and to Pamela and other uh attendees who have asked difficult questions these are not easy questions and we sometimes shy away from them but thank you for raising those questions so we are all mindful of what we are doing and how we are doing and how it makes others feel even though we may not that’s called implicit, it’s like implicit bias we don’t even know about it but it makes others feel like our actions uh say something else right so let’s be mindful of those and thank you again everyone for joining us for this great session and hope you’ll continue on the other side we have a whole round of afternoon sessions lined up for you take care thank you very much everyone thank you, thank you.



Ankur Jain

DataEthics4All Community member, Founder & Partner, Emergent Ventures


Ashok Ramaswami

DataEthics4All Community member, Founder & CEO, SEQNC Inc.


Juliette-Marie Somerset

DataEthics4All Community member, CEO & Managing Partner, Somerset Partners

karthik rajan

Karthik Rajan

DataEthics4All Community member, Head of Healthcare, Skyflow

Ashmeet Sidana

DataEthics4All Community member, VC, Engineering Capital



Shilpi Agarwal

DataEthics4All Founder & CEO, Social Impact Leader, CEO of Social Strategi LLC, Member of the Data Ethics Advisory Council