Priya Banerjee is a principal at B Capital’s Singapore office. Prior to B Capital, Priya worked as an investment professional with Sequoia Capital India. At Sequoia, Priya helped to identify and evaluate multiple high growth start-ups, largely in the consumer and healthcare space. During her MBA at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, US, Priya was also an investment partner at First Round Capital’s Dorm Room Fund, where she and her team invested in over 25 promising companies built by student founders across the US.
This interview was conducted by Darren Thang, regional marketing lead at B Capital.
Darren Thang (DT): What investing areas do you focus on?
Priya Banerjee (PB): I focus on high-growth technology investments within enterprise technology, fintech, business-to-business (B2B) and transportation verticals in India and Southeast Asia. I am particularly excited about startups that are building products to help legacy industries transition from pen and paper workflows to more modern, digital-first solutions.
DT: What attracted you to venture investing?
PB: I spent a year in Stockholm, Sweden, during my undergraduate days working at an early-stage technology company. I quickly realized that I love working with founders and partnering with them as they scale their business. I was attracted to venture investing because it gave me the opportunity to learn from exceptional entrepreneurs and investors every day. It is an incredible privilege to partner with teams solving hard problems, and providing customers with something new and delightful. That was previously impossible. Venture investing allows me to be creative and analytical in equal parts.
The combination of imagining a future that does not exist yet, and analyzing existing data to determine what’s possible, makes venture capital (VC) a very interesting career.
DT: What’s something that you always look for in a pitch?
PB: In a pitch, I like to evaluate questions such as: Is the company operating in a large and growing market? Is there an interesting insight into why customers need this solution? Has the team figured out an effective go-to-market approach that enables them to scale fast?
In addition, I look out for focus and customer pull. When you are solving a complex problem, it is tempting to try to do ten different things at the same time. I like companies that go narrow at first and solve a specific problem perfectly before expanding their offering to newer products, customer segments, or geographies. I also spend a lot of time understanding what customers think of the product. Having a solution that generates significant organic pull from customers is great ammunition for growing sustainably.
DT: What do you look for in a founder or in an executive team?
PB: I like to work with founding teams who have developed unique insights about what is right or wrong in an industry, are passionate about solving difficult problems, and have a clear vision of how to tackle them. The best founders are often obsessively curious and have the right balance of determination and empathy.
I recognize that building an enduring business is hard, yet extremely rewarding, and I believe it is important for both founders and investors to be collaborative, vulnerable, open-minded, and resilient in their pursuits. Regardless of whether we end up partnering with them, we always learn a lot from our interactions with founders, and I hugely respect their ideas, grit, and hard work.
DT: What are the attributes of a company, or technology, that could be borderless and grow beyond its founding region?
PB: Business practices and culture may vary by region, but what makes companies succeed and thrive transcends borders. Setting up the right team, creating a culture of customer-centricity, and building strong defensible business models are truly borderless and critical for building lasting impact. Our vantage point at B Capital as a global firm makes me strongly believe that technology companies of the future will have the ability to win, regardless of geography.
DT: If you were not in this career, what would you be doing?
PB: If I were not in this career, I would have liked to be a founder myself, or work at an early-stage company. I love problem-solving and being in the trenches with team members passionate about tackling difficult issues and creating impactful solutions. I am energized by the process of ideation to execution, which is why I have thoroughly enjoyed being part of the early team at B Capital.
DT: What is something many people may not know about you?
PB: I am an avid art enthusiast. I enjoy visiting art museums and learning about the lives and motivations of artists around the world. I believe artists and entrepreneurs are quite similar as they are both in the business of turning ideas into reality, and challenging the status quo. Growing up, I spent a lot of time learning how to paint, and it has been fun going back to my canvas and paintbrushes in the last few months.
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Darren Thang is a marketing manager based in Singapore. He acts as the regional lead for B Capital’s marketing efforts in Asia. Darren joined B Capital from OrangeTee & Tie, where he was leading the marketing communications department and the digital transformation team. Additionally, Darren also spent a part of his career working for Phillip Capital Group, managing the marketing communications department across more than 16 countries. He earned a Bachelors in Business Management (BBM) from the Singapore Management University.