Vikas J. Parekh
- Redis Labs
- SambaNova Systems
- Vianai Systems
What's your favorite part of your job?
It’s a privilege to get an insider’s look at some of the world's most visionary and ambitious companies. Typically one gets an outside-in view of these companies, where founders are in their inspirational state, polished and glossy—the TED Talk version of their work and themselves. In my job, I get to see these founders as the fighters they are: They put in long hours, constantly hustle, make hard decisions and personal sacrifices, and take big risks. Personally, I'm as inspired by founders' tenacity as I am by their vision.
No one gets everything completely right the first time. So you keep experimenting, learning, refining, and trying again—one round after another.
Other than that tenacity on the part of the founder, what do you look for in a company?
We want to see a commitment to iteration. No one gets everything completely right the first time. So you keep experimenting, learning, refining, and trying again—one round after another. One of the interesting things about the period that we're living through is that technology has reduced the cost of iteration and experimentation across a variety of sectors. I think that is going to accelerate the pace of innovation even further. So I get excited when I see companies make that iterative methodology central to what they do.
You're focused on enterprise software. What's the biggest opportunity in that sector?
There's huge opportunity in the area where software and data intersect. Just looking at the companies in our portfolio, I have seen how data is revolutionizing mapping, communications, and manufacturing. It's at the heart of a fundamental shift in what technology can deliver, and I believe that the winners riding this theme can accumulate compounding value. I think we’ve only scratched the surface of how this combination of software and data will evolve.
What are your guiding principles?
There are three ideas that have been very influential in my life. First is the value of hard work and knowing the context: treating every day and task as though it's the most important one, but simultaneously never losing sight of the bigger goal. The second is that good partners are essential. No matter how brilliant you are, you reach the limits of your own knowledge quickly. So find people who can help you think several chess moves ahead, and try to keep working with them. And finally, all decisions have a distribution of outcomes, so it’s impossible to know ex ante what the exact result of any decision will be. That’s fine, though—just build a certain amount of risk into your decision-making, and then move on.
What’s something that people don’t know about you?
I run almost everyday - and I hate running. Of course I love the effect running has on my health and energy, but minute by minute, I really hate the act of running. I do it because I think it's worth sticking with things that help you in the long term, no matter how much of a grind the day to day is. That's another reason why I respect the founders we work with so much: They don't quit either.