The Story Behind Atlys Raising $16.3M in Venture Capital (Mohak Nahta - Atlys)

By Jason Yeh
March 26, 2024
Listen on Apple Podcasts

The Story Behind Atlys Raising $16.3M in Venture Capital (Mohak Nahta - Atlys)

Most of us have heard the saying "good things don't come easy", and I'd be willing to argue that the majority of people agree with that statement on some level. But sometimes, good things do come easy and THEN they get harder. And it's in those pivotal moments where you really get to see what you're capable of. That was the case for today's guest Mohak Nahta - founder and CEO of Atlys - a company he started as a side project to solve his own problem of getting his visa on time when traveling. In today's episode, we get to hear the story behind not only Mohaks most recent $12M Series A but also his experience raising his $4M Seed round. Grab your notebook, because this guest is dropping all the fundraising knowledge!

Episode Transcript


Mohak Nahta (2): go after investors that actually understand the problem. So you're not debating the problem. You're actually selling your solution. You're selling your story. You're not selling the market. And that was a big learning. Do not try to sell the market.

Sell your story

Most of us had heard the saying good things. Don't come easy. And I'd be willing to argue that the majority of people. Agree with that statement on some level. But sometimes good things do come easy and then they get harder and it's in those pivotal moments where you really get to see what you're capable of. That was the case for today's guest Mohawk, nada. Founder and CEO of Atlas, a company.

He started as a side project [00:01:00] to solve his own problems of getting his visa on time when traveling. It turns out a lot of people had a similar problem and that allowed him to raise a seed round back in 2021. Led by one of the biggest venture firms in the game. Andreessen Horowitz.

Fast forward to going out to racist series a and things didn't come as easily. To be honest. Mohawk was experiencing the exact opposite of easy. But instead of dropping the ball and giving up Mohawk did what any great founder does. He changed his strategy and try it again. Let's just say his luck was a bit different.

The second time around.

But before we get into the outcome of a series, a. Let's rewind the clock to hear about Mohawks childhood. All the way across the pond in India.

Mohak Nahta: Before, uh, Atlas and I, before I was in the U S I actually grew up, uh, in India. and I was there until, until high school and, [00:02:00] you know, for college, for my undergrad, I moved to the U S right.

and, and as a child, right? Like I loved, uh, I love tinkering with things. I love sort of, uh, building stuff. And I was always interested, uh, sort of, uh, by the idea of just, you know, It's just building small things or like Lego and so on and so forth. nothing, nothing crazy. but I also was, you know, grew up in a, business family, which is to say that, you know, uh, the family ran, uh, a business operation.

So, you know, dinner table conversations were. All about the business, and honestly, you know, I'm not a pro at running a business still, but, uh, I got a lot of exposure, right, uh, into how business is run, just growing up, uh, so, so kind of a weird mix where like, okay, I got exposure to business, but I was never interested in the business part of things.

I was always interested in building stuff and like, you know, thinking of new ideas and like, uh, you know, trying to do crazy things.

Host: Jason Yeh: So your parents, they're entrepreneurs. It sounds like, and I want to ask you this cause I've been thinking about this, uh, for my niece and [00:03:00] nephew and other. Parents, friends of mine who are starting to raise kids. And it's always interesting to think about like what you expose your kids to as a little kid or what you push them to do.

Did your parents push you to do certain things either on the building or engineering side of things or things that as you look back are much more about like how to think like an entrepreneur, how to sell, how to, how to talk to customers, you know, what were you pushed to do by your parents?

Mohak Nahta: Great. Yeah. Great question. So, you know, the, the, the reality is that I wasn't pushed to do anything in the sense that like it was very open, whereas, uh, where I could just do anything and everything I wanted. Uh, you know, I wasn't pushed to do take certain classes. I wasn't pushed to like, you know, study more.

I had full freedom. And then, and what that freedom meant was that I was able to find my own interests. And, You know, I remember as a child, uh, my interest changed every three months, right? Because again, like when you're not pushed into something, the flip side is that as a child, you'd always change your interest.

But in retrospect, uh, that was very, [00:04:00] very valuable, right? Because I was exposed to so many things and, that, that was, I think that was very important. I always had to figure stuff out, right?

And, and I felt that, like, that level, or like, like, street smartness is what I say, like, you know, that you develop, uh, early on, becomes extremely and critically useful, later on, especially when you're an entrepreneur, because, you know, like, all you have to do is

Host: Jason Yeh: so like the focus on, focus on problem solving. So on one side, you definitely had a lot of reps around problem solving. Tell me a little bit about your openness to talk to people and, um, you know, how outgoing were you versus Uh, how introverted you were.

Mohak Nahta: Yeah, so I mean, uh, very outgoing. So I was also a single child. so, so very outgoing. And I think, I don't know, maybe just, uh, in a function of who I am and my personality. But, uh, I've always been an extrovert. so I was always outgoing from, from the very early days. And,

Host: Jason Yeh: That's, [00:05:00] that's a powerful combination. You, uh, not, you don't always see that combination of that sort of builder mentality paired with the extroversion and your, your interest in connecting with people, which I've, which I've definitely felt, um, throughout our relationship together. So, tell me a little bit about the start of Atlas, especially as it pertains to your thinking that you wanted to build a company where you would raise money for. Um, and in a lot of funded conversations, we'll talk about a very specific fundraise, but there's something that I've seen in you over a number of fundraisers, your, your Angel Round, your Seed, your Series A, that I want to pull out.

And so we're going to start from the beginning. Tell me a little bit about where Atlas came from. And then your thought that I'm going to raise capital for this business.

Mohak Nahta: Absolutely. Look, so, before Atlas, I was working at Pinterest, uh, you know, first as an engineer and then for some time as a product manager, right? Uh, uh, and before that I was at school at CMU. Uh, now, [00:06:00] at CMU I had a lot of different ideas and at Pinterest also had an idea that I almost sort of explored, I didn't do a good job, right? And the reason this is important is that what I learned, uh, and it was actually an interesting idea. It was called

AirDash. And what I realized was that whenever I would travel, uh, especially back to India for holidays, uh, people would always ask me to bring iPhones and, you know, uh, MacBooks and because there was price arbitrage.

So I built this marketplace where, you know, uh, uh, I would, uh, get people who are travelers to just take stuff for others and then keep the margin. And, uh, at some point people didn't, weren't willing to do so because, well, I think it was kind of illegal. Uh, so I got pilots because their bags aren't checked, right.

To do this. Uh, but you know, what I realized was that I focused on everything that one shouldn't focus on, which is like, okay, I focused on the marketing side of it. I focused on all the. talking, but I didn't focus on something that's very basic product. Right. So I'm like, okay, I don't know how to build a product.

So I, when I was at Pinterest, I found the best person to who they are at [00:07:00] product was the head of product Lawrence at that time. Right. And I was like, okay, I want to learn how to build a product from you. And he said something interesting. He's like, okay, I can mentor you, or you can work with me in building internal tools, which is the most unsexy things in a big company.

Right. And. You'll just work with me and you'll learn. So I said, okay, I'll do that. And for one year, I'm like, okay, I'm not going to care about my job because I always knew that I want to do, I want to build a product and learn how to build a product. And I didn't have any idea about what startup I do if I do a startup, but I just wanted to learn how to build a product.

and, you know, as I started building internal tools and like learning the art of building a product, I started thinking of problems that I can solve the problems that I really hate. Right. And I always tell other, uh, you know, to be founders and when they ask me like, you know, either you pick a problem that you're really passionate about, or you pick a problem that you really hate.

Otherwise don't pick something in the middle, right? And so the story of Atlas was interesting because since childhood, I always loved building. And now I sort of thought that, okay, I at least somewhat know how to build [00:08:00] products.

So, there was a time in January of 2020 where we were going on. Uh, a work trip to five countries and, uh, you know, I am an Indian citizen going with an American crew who didn't care that we were going to five different countries, had to apply for five different visas.

And I'm like, okay, this sucks. So I'm going to just build a side project to solve my own problems. And that was how it started. And I wanted to learn iOS. So I'm like, okay, I'm going to build an iPhone app, which again, not the best of ideas. Uh, so I built, um, Atlys as a side project with no intention to do a startup.

My intention actually was to just be able to build a product and get someone to use it. Right. I didn't think about, uh, doing a startup at all. And. That happened and I, you know, and at some point I realized that my friends were talking about it and then friends of friends were using it and then I was going to parties where people were like, Oh, uh, you know, can you, can you give me the test drive version of this visa?

app Right. And I always knew the opportunity is huge, [00:09:00] but there was a point where I just said, well, okay, like there's a huge opportunity. I have an insight, uh, and a product. so let's,let's just do this. Right. And I mean, by the way, before this, I've never networked with an investor.

I, well, you know, I didn't know any investor. I hadn't, uh, other than the, uh, I, I wasn't even on Twitter, right. Which basically goes to show that I didn't even hear of most of, living in Silicon Valley. I just didn't care. I just, you know, it was. It was something because I never thought I'd do a startup.

It was, you know, the year before Atlas, I just

Host: Jason Yeh: Well, this is going to be a great, this is going to be a great opportunity for us to pull something apart. And this is where I want our conversation to go. So you. I'm not gonna pretend like you didn't have great parts of your resume, uh, which is like, look, you went to CMU, uh, you were an engineer at Pinterest, uh, you know, a hot, hot tech company in Silicon Valley.

Those are, those are things that give you some advantages. At least on paper. It's like, wow. An engineer from Pinterest, from CMU [00:10:00] and some network, at least within Pinterest. As you're telling me, it was like, you weren't thinking about starting a big venture backed startup at any point. You weren't networking with investors.

So we want to go from where you started and then kind of to tell the story of how you raised your initial Call it Angel Pre Seed Round, with amazing names, and then parlayed that into progress, and then landing a seed round from Andreessen Horwitz, till your most recent round, which is a Series A, from Sequoia, among others. And, there's, Obviously glazing over a lot of important parts about the business being amazing, but we're going to talk a little bit about the sort of fundraising momentum that you have been able to drive. And I think that all starts with the first domino of what, what did you start doing at first to even start raising the, the angel pre seed round, which is where I met you.

And, you know, we'll talk a little bit [00:11:00] about it, but you, you brought some amazing names on, um, for that very first round. So let's talk a little bit about that.

Mohak Nahta: Absolutely. So look, it actually happened organically, but, uh, it was sort of the winter of, uh, uh, of that year that I started Atlas, right? And, um, you know, so, so to preface, there's winter of 2022, COVID at its peak, running a travel startup. Right. I left my job, zero employees, no team, no co founder, right? The worst combination ever, right?

Uh, uh, uh, like literally like, you know, uh, and obviously no users, right? And I did have a product and I did have a lot of insights, right? And the way I always think about the pre seed round is that how Passionately do your insights come out, right? And that's how I sort of describe it. And I just felt that because I was suffering from visas for so long and I had so many insights and it wasn't, you know, and I'll be honest, it wasn't that I spoke to a lot of customers or anything, it was just that I had faced this problem so much that I knew.

It really, really deeply. And, uh, [00:12:00] and I think my journey sort of started where like, uh, my closest friends at Pinterest were actually angel, angel investors, right? So I started with them and then they were like, okay, why don't you talk to these two or three funds that we know? And, and they included like South Park Commons and a four and, uh, you know, and, and interestingly, the way the momentum built up was very interesting.

my mentor at Pinterest, who was also part of this first round angel, angel investor program. I forgot the name, but it's a program for angel investors. And I think you were also part of it. He just took my simple deck and a pitch, uh, and just sent it to that. So everyone who was associated with first round got it.

Right. And it included really amazing angel investors such as yourself. Right. And a lot of inbounds started coming up and they started like, Oh, this is cool. We want to consider investing. And that point I didn't even know what a safe is and whatever. Right. So I was like, Oh wow, cool.

Host: Jason Yeh: Heh, heh,

Mohak Nahta: During this time, and I was also lucky to be part of South Common, so they knew me before, right?

They were like, oh, by the [00:13:00] way, we heard you're just talking to angel investors. Why are you not talking to us? We can just lead CDROM. like, okay, great. What does leading CDROM mean? But okay, now that I learned that, so I talked to them. They move quickly. You know, Amit, Radhitya, and Ruchi, and then they sort of come in And then more, more investors come in, come in as well.

Right. So my idea of raising a pre seed round was like 300K round. It ended up being a 1. 1 million round. but it all started from that email to first round fellows. And, luckily a lot of people showed inbound interest. And I think, as I said, like how passionately your insights, because at that point, there's literally, you know, for what it's worth, I just want to, Whoever is listening to this is that, it couldn't have been a worse time.

Like, you know, like if you're thinking whether or not to do something that you're passionate about, it couldn't have been a worse time. And yet we were able to raise around and, you know, very grateful for it. The reality is that the, Insights have to be strong, and then you just have to have really, really a lot of conviction.

Uh, and, and, and [00:14:00] people actually buy it. Like, people who invest in you early on buy that. They're not buying your ability to build a product. They're not buying your ability to build a business. They're just literally buying your conviction to, to do something great.

Host: Jason Yeh: me underline a couple things because, uh, you, you said a number of, or you described a number of situations that all came together and I think you picked out a few, but there are a few that stand out to me that I want to make sure I highlight. The first being that you were working on your own, like you were building something, in a way that was just trying to like demonstrate.

being able to solve a problem. So that's one. You showed progress and you showed your ability to get, uh, your insights out and actually act on them. And then two, that combined with initial trust that your friends had in you. So people, all investors, whether or not they're your friends or not. They're looking to the future and saying, like, do we think this person [00:15:00] has the capabilities to do a bunch of crazy stuff that's going to be put in front of them?

And because they had worked with you, because they had seen you, and because you had already started working, there was enough to get. Somebody to be your lead domino, Right. Someone that's Like, look, there's not much here, Mohawk. There really is not much here. And by the way, this is travel in the middle of COVID, but look, I trust you.

Right. And so, I think that is more important than getting the email sent out to the first round list and then getting the email sent out to some other people, because those groups see a lot of deals, right? But they don't see a lot of deals with. A founder who has the backing of people that they trust, who has already started building something, who can articulate a real unique insight.

Okay. So that's, that's the one thing. And the other really important thing is along the way Mohawk, you described a couple of things, which is like, I didn't really think that I needed to raise money or [00:16:00] wanted to raise money. And I'm like building in order to just build for myself, not for investors. And so the moment you go out to raise, you're like, okay, well now I'll go raise.

But you have way more than a lot of people have, you know, when they think that they want to go raise money. And you go and say, look, I only need 300k. I only need 300k. And so being able to show, traction, being able to show value far beyond the amount that you think you want to raise. Is, is one of the strongest things you can do in terms of fundraising where people are like, Oh my God, like this person only needs this amount.

No, we want to give them more. You know, it's like a very counterintuitive thing where It feels like a great opportunity and people want to jam in more as opposed to you being like, I think I want to raise like.

$5 million out the gate, and then people are like questioning all the different things and why, why it's worth that much. Um, so I'll just say, look, that whole string of events is amazing. [00:17:00] You got, uh, you know, we had the opportunity to talk, I was actually introduced to you by Julia Lipton. Who's an amazing investor and whose credibility extends beyond like so many different things.

You were able to get Wayne Ting, the CEO of Lime to invest. And so now you have, capital to run. You have an amazing cap table. And we'll fast forward, the next round you raise is a seed round from Andreessen Horowitz. So, tell me, tell me a little bit about how the business progressed to a point where you had it in your mind, you know what, I think I need to raise the next round of capital.

What was the trigger point in your mind that was like, okay, I want to raise a seed round? Okay,

Mohak Nahta: it's interesting. Right. And again, like, you know, just to reiterate, I was first time founder and I didn't come from like this background of knowing how this works. Right. So I never really thought about fundraising. [00:18:00] Right. Uh, and I was just so happy after the pre seed round that someone was investing in me.

Right. Uh, but, what really happened was that as COVID was sort of coming to an end, right? We found, we found a niche and we grew really, really, really quickly within niche, right? So it's like, okay, we're zero, zero, zero. So we had the product, we had some money.

Uh, uh, and by the way, we were being very frugal in the sense we actually had no employees on the payroll. I had two contractors, both of them unpaid. so like other than basic expenses, we actually our, uh, expenses were like six, 700. Right.

And then even then I used to think of how do I cut, right? Because I'm like, okay, like this thing might never end and I need to save this million dollars forever. So I never really, I was just scared to hire also. So I just built it and I just, uh, work was grateful for the first couple of people who just worked without any money.

And I'm like, okay, we'll keep building. We'll keep talking to customers. Right. And fast forward to the next fundraise. What happened was it was, COVID was ending and we found a niche, a small gap, and we capitalized on it. And we just [00:19:00] grew within that niche. So it's like, you know, one segment, one route opened up and I still remember.

U. S. to Bahamas. Bahamas was the first one to lift restrictions. And suddenly, and no one ever thought that Bahamas would have a visa for COVID. So I'm like, okay, fuck it, right, this is the only visa that's happening. We're gonna capture it. And we just went ham. And luckily, Americans also didn't have anywhere else to travel.

So they were also just going to Bahamas. So suddenly, uh, we were like, okay, we're just gonna capture. And then what happened was, we just saw this hockey stick growth. And when I say hockey stick, right, again, People think hockey stick always means big numbers. No, it just, the, the rate at which you're growing is really high.

Uh, but the numbers aren't, but the, and that's the thing. The rate at which you grow matters more than the absolute number. 'cause if you can keep growing there, right? So I was like, okay, great. And, and then, and trust me, like, you know, it's like when you have no users and suddenly you have a lot of customers.

And when I say a lot, like, you know, I don't know, like from zero to [00:20:00] 40 a day, it feels good, but you're also like, you know, uh, trying to keep the lights off.

Host: Jason Yeh:

Mohak Nahta: And I read this, you know, and everyone sort of who doesn't know fundraising, two things that I advise them to read. One is your blogs, always. And the other, uh, is, uh, Paul Graham's blogs. Because like, one of the things that I read was that, Oh, your goal should be to grow 7 percent week over week for 12 weeks.

I'm like, okay, great. And I'm like, okay, I want to do that. And once we started getting customers, we grew. 40 percent week over week from a base of zero, by the way, for like eight weeks. I'm like, okay, this is crazy growth in the sense that it's not big enough, but we're growing. And at that point, I'm like, okay, it's time to consider racing, but we didn't have a great business.

We knew the product. We had a business model. We knew the market, how it would be. COVID was still a thing and we had some traction, right?

So, I'm like, I'm gonna take a different approach and I'm gonna write my thoughts down on where we are at as a company and make a memo. So not, not a deck, And then, that's when we start, [00:21:00] uh, seed, seed funding, uh, raise.

the biggest sort of driver of like getting people excited, wasn't the memo, wasn't anything, it was just me starting with the demo of the product and showing that, look, I've built something that some people are using,

So. it got people, a lot of people excited, right, so we got a lot of, uh, seed, seed stage, uh, we started getting term sheets and the thing with term sheets is that like once you get one term sheet, that's when I learned, right, it just creates this, uh, sort of, it puts almost like a time limit that look, right.

on every other investor other than you. So you are like, fine, you work for Termsheet, but it puts this, it starts every other investor on a stopwatch, right? And then they all move quickly. So at some point I realized that they're actually, I don't know, it can't be rational to invest in a startup doing, thinking about doing visas in a world where visas are mostly non existent and getting growth from Bahamas fucking health visa, which is not even a real And, uh, [00:22:00] and so

Host: Jason Yeh: yeah,

Mohak Nahta: And so again, I think we got lucky.

uh, towards the end, I ended up meeting Sriram from Andreessen. Uh, and we were, I was almost decided, decided my Series A investor, sorry, seed investors. And, you know, it was about to close, but the. Thing was that Sriram, like me, came from a very similar background, had done 50 visas.

So it was a very instantaneous connect, right? And we just talked about our visa stories and I'm like, okay, this guy really gets the problem. Uh, and he's like, Oh yeah, like everything's good. But like, he really cared about Someone solving the problem and I also cared about solving that problem, obviously, uh, and that's how A16Z came by.

Nice. Let me, let me pull out a couple things and have You react to them. So

Host: Jason Yeh: you did happen to raise your seed round and maybe the hottest market. In the history of venture capital, right? Um, so a lot of things that. were happening were a function of market getting interested, uh, very easily the market getting [00:23:00] excited, everything being hot at the time. Um, but one thing I did want to pull out, which I've seen throughout Um, the life of, of our relationship is that you better than other founders have really leveraged your cap table.

The moment you did get a great cap table, you really were great at leveraging your cap table, certainly for fundraising, but also along the way and, and grabbing value. So can you, can you take a couple of steps back and again, think about. The seed round. And as you're building towards your seed round, tell me how you thought about leveraging the people that you got to invest in you, um, both to drive the business forward and to help you as you started your fundraising process.

Mohak Nahta (2): Absolutely. So, so, you know, on point. So, look, we were lucky that we got a very extensive, cap table of really amazing folks during our pre seed run, right? Look, and as I told you before, I never came from the VC world and neither did I have, nor did I have connections, right? [00:24:00] So, when it came to seed fundraising, I knew no, almost no seed fund, right?

and, I always like, okay, look, sort of kind of selfishly, but I always think, of the cap table as look now they've put the money in where what's the worst they can do like I can be I can be honest with them that we're going down the gutter and you know, like What's the worst that can happen right they can they can just hate me but that's You know, but the other thing about what I realized was that people who invest you in the early days actually really It's almost like they're your cheerleaders, right?

Like more than the money, they're not in it for the returns. They're just there because, you know, when you're investing in just an idea, like it's not a good investment most of the times, right? So I'm like, okay, I don't have a network. These people literally know every investor in Silicon Valley, right?

So the first thing that I leveraged the cap table was okay. And I, you know, the way I deliver the CapTable WhatsApp group with all the investors who are all over the world. And it's [00:25:00] sort of like a community, uh, you know, where other investors know each other and there's jokes going on, there's conversations.

And so the first thing is like, okay, is this a good time to raise? These are like, you know, this is where we're at. This is where we were like eight weeks before. What do people think? Right. The thing is like, obviously when you have, like you don't get like, A single answer for something like this, right? At some point, it's just a gut check, but like, you hear enough yeses.

So, I'm like, okay, great. Next thing, how do you sell the story? So, again, so, I take a stab, right, and then I ask the cap table, like, okay, what do you all think? And then after that, it was like, okay, how do I go about fundraising?

And then I, I spoke to you and then you explained to me and it was something that I sort of was like, be chaste, right? Uh, don't chase, be chaste. And so, okay. So I'm like, okay, to be chaste, I need to meet all these funds. How do I meet all these funds? I bet again, go back to the capital. I'm like, you all make warm introductions to these funds.

Right. and I, one thing I did was that I actually found the warmest source between [00:26:00] a seed stage fund that I wanted to talk to and, uh, my angel investors, right? So it wasn't that I'm asking one person to introduce me to 10 others, or I'm asking a sort of. Everyone would introduce me to random firms.

It was just like, okay, do you know this firm really, really well, or this partner really, really well? It's almost as if you're friends, you're texting buddies. Can you, uh, make a warm

Host: Jason Yeh: That's awesome,

Mohak Nahta (2): And because you said it was the hottest market, it was actually hard to get attention, right? If you didn't go through a warm, because there were like deals going all over the


Host: Jason Yeh: I like the point Mohawk made about raising in a hot market.

And I think it's something a lot of founders often miss, just because you're raising in a hot market, doesn't mean it's easy to grab the attention of an investor. In fact hot markets can mean hot competition, which can make things equally hard. Just for different reasons. When we come back, Mohawk shares an interesting strategy for generating heat for his round. I got to say. It was pretty clever.

Host: Jason Yeh: [00:27:00] [00:28:00] Yeah, so this is what I wanted to point out is like, man, the momentum that you were able to generate, um, really started from the first angels that you brought on, because one thing that I'll point out is you did a memo and memos can be really valuable. I've written about this before, but what I say, so I'm, I'm more of a deck fan.

And I do say memos work. What I say memos work is memos work for people that can make it work, which is a self referential way to define it. But what I mean by that is if you are the type of founder that can make an investor spend time on a memo, you know, people investors spend on average two and a half minutes on a deck.

That's no time. That's not enough time to actually read a memo. But if you are the type of [00:29:00] founder, that can get an investor to spend time on a memo, then the memo will work for you. Most founders, especially first time founders in the earliest stages, they don't have the gravitas to be able to get an investor to spend that time.

But you Mohawk had credibility, uh, transferred to you by your cap table. So when the warmest intros came out and they said, I have this guy named Mohawk, he's amazing. And the people looked at who were making the intros and they're like, That's worth spending time on. Then I think the memo was enough to then catch people's eyes.

And then that got you to the demo. Really, really important note. And, um, I just love what you had to say about leveraging your cap table, not being afraid to ask for help, throwing them in a WhatsApp group and just learning from all the experience around the table. So that's one, just an amazing setup using the cap table.


Mohak Nahta (2): Thank you. And then the last thing that also helped, uh, if you remember is that [00:30:00] momentum begets momentum or like, you know, and it amplifies. So the other thing was that the cap table, this cap table is very well connected, right? They knew everyone, almost everyone. So what I did was as we started getting any term sheets, right?

Started just sending it to, uh, on the cap, on the, on the group, right? And it was still like 30 odd people, but the thing is that, These people, because they talk to investors all the time, they started talking about it naturally. Like, look, I funded this company early on and now they have this term sheet or that term sheet.

And that created more and more hype, right? And so we got, we obviously started where we were chasing, like, or we were talking to investors. But we very quickly, uh, and luckily got to a point where we were being chased. Uh, uh, and, and everyone wanted it, right? Just because that, okay, like we. borrowed the credibility of our investors and then they actually helped us, helped amplify or like sort of create the hype as well, right?

And it's not that I called any investors and I said, okay, can you create hype or can you talk to this? It was just very simple, right? Like, okay, we spoke to [00:31:00] this investor, it did not go well, or we spoke to this investor and their interest in moving forward, right? And, and this trusting that your cap table has the best intentions in mind, was very helpful.

Host: Jason Yeh: Awesome. So, now I want to actually transition to your Series A, where the dynamics of your fundraise are going to be very different, right? When you're raising your pre seed, it's literally your friends. Starting the process, then people just being like, I'm going to trust this guy. He has a demo. At the seed, we talked about it.

You were growing, but you were doing Bahamas visas, right? Like, I mean, that's like not a business. I mean, it's a tiny, tiny side project still. And so we're still kind of telling this story. We're still borrowing credibility from investors. We're still really betting on a future, right? Huge future. Now, fast forward to your Series A, which you recently announced a couple of months ago.

Um, we're in a different state of fundraising for a number of reasons. First, like I said, you're raising your Series [00:32:00] A in any market. You're shifting over to really having to tell the story. Uh, based on numbers more. And then the second dynamic I'll point out is that you did raise a really hot seed round.

And for a lot of people, raising a hot seed round in 2021 ish has been kind of a kiss of death because you raised at a really high valuation relative to, you know, traction. And so now Mohawk, you're going out to raise the next round and you're, you're thinking about. You know, I would love to hear what's going on in your head.

You're thinking about going out to raise another round. And I know you're contemplating things like, how much runway do I have? What's happening in the business? What's happening in the market? And this is like a complicated issue to go through because it's like, everyone had already started talking about how, how difficult the market was.

So I would love to hear a little bit about like where you were, how you were thinking about runway and what was the [00:33:00] cherry point to make you go? But you know what? I think I should have serious conversations with Series A investors.

Mohak Nahta (2): Absolutely. Look, you know, uh, uh, very interesting. Our series is like a great learning experience. And honestly, like, you know, what, what I'll tell you like one big mistake. Raising a hot round, you know, like, as in, like, I gave myself a pat on the back for raising a seed round in the hottest market, uh, in 2021.

Right. And that was mistake number one. Like, you can't be batting your back. When you've raised a round in the hottest market because your assumptions or like your, theories about how to raise a round and what it entails to raise money are very skewed, right? So I'm like, okay, I raised the last round super easily and had eight term shades.

So all everyone cares about is this hockey stick curve, right? And I'm like, okay, great. And there was a point where we had that hockey stick and that's all we had. And. I go ahead with it, [00:34:00] right? Mistake number two was that when you raise money in a really, really hot market very, very early on, you sort of lie to yourself on what you've achieved.

The reality is you haven't achieved as much as just, you know, creating some sort of hype and having some stupid metrics to show off, right? But you do tend to think that you, just because you 40 percent week over week for eight weeks, That was the reason people invested. That was not the reason, looking back, people invested in you.

But you tend to think that. So when it came to Series A, again, I wrote a memo. And I got it completely wrong. Because I thought, okay, all investors care about is the growth rate, right? And you've been hearing this all over. It's growth, growth, growth. So, all I focus is on that. And, then I start raising. And, totally opposite experience.

One, it's taking a lot longer. Two. We're going to ICs and we're hearing no's and a lot of no's actually don't make sense, right? [00:35:00] But, you know, uh, and I think during this time the most important thing to have is self belief and to know that, look, you always remind yourself and I used to go to bed like, look, if you don't need money, how will I make this business work, right?

Because I, you know, like I've always started Atlas because I want At least to solve this problem. Uh, it was never for fundraising or never, never for anything else, right? so, my goal with fundraising was that, okay, we've grown a lot. We've spent quite some money growing. We're not gonna go out of business if we don't raise.

but, we will obviously need to change course, right? And we'll become profitable and, you know, to do that. So, then I start raising. I start talking to investors. I get rejections, right? And, it's at a point where I've gotten like, what, 10, 11 rejections, and this is very hard because in my sort of pre seed seed, in the first week itself, we had like six plus term sheets.

So, so very different. And I'm like, okay, what's going [00:36:00] wrong? Like I did the exact same thing six months back or like a year back and then before that also, and it just worked magically. And now it's just not working. And the markets were bad, but I just thought that markets still rewarded. And then,

Sriram, our existing partner at A16Z, we have a chat, right?

tells me something very interesting. He said, a few very interesting things. He said, number one, you always have to know, people always invest for emotional reasons, but they always reject for logical reasons.

Your story isn't coming out, right? And you have to know that it wasn't the metrics. It wasn't those logical reasons that people invested in it for. It's like numbers do matter more at series A stage, but it is the emotional reason. Do people feel connected to your story? And the story is nowhere to be found because what I did was I made a memo, but unlike last time I had a lot of numbers.

So last time I actually had a story in my memo that people could relate to. This time it was just a bunch of numbers because I just thought that's what [00:37:00] led to our scene. And he was like, where is the story? Where's the customer? And he's like, that is what your strength is or any startup strength is like knowing your customers and talking like almost making the investor that you're pitching share the same experience that the customer shared and feel the same pain.

So I'm like, okay, we have a few more pitches left, uh, Including Sequoia. And, what we're going to do is I'm going to redo the deck. middle of the fundraising, period. And, I scrapped the memo and I built a deck and it's, you know, I built it in one night and it's very authentic and it's like, okay, from the lens of a customer and it tells a story and it's not about metrics.

It's not about much, right? Okay. Sure. We do talk about metrics, but we lead on with the story. So that was learning number one. Learning number two was, Knowing the partner, right? Like, again, visas are something that not everyone relates to, right? And, uh, what, what happens is when people don't relate to something and they've had somewhat of an [00:38:00] experience with it, they tend to not understand how deep the problem is.

or like the way to think about it is market sizing is an extension of how deep you think is the problem or how big you think is the problem. And then people are like, okay, if I did a visa once in 10 years, it can't be really that big. And it becomes really hard.

So you're suddenly talking a lot of semantics. So my learning number two was, okay, go after investors that actually understand the problem. So you're not debating the problem. You're actually selling your solution. You're selling your story. You're not selling the market. And that was a big learning. Do not try to sell the market.

Sell your story. Right. So if you're selling the market, then, then, then, then it's like, you know, my bottoms up analysis against yours or my, my word against yours. And, you know, there's always proof that the market is not big enough.

And, we went from several, several, several rejections to term sheets from Sequoia and Elevation and then four or five

Host: Jason Yeh: Dude, I loved this. Uh, you, you had so many amazing gems in there and you kind of added detail [00:39:00] to some of the teaching that I put out there. That is just amazing. And I wanted to highlight these things just so you don't think you're crazy. There are a few things that I wrote down. The first was I literally just had this conversation about this.

We're producing content around it where it's like, there are advantages that certain people can have during a specific fundraise that will make that fundraise go extremely well and may set them up for failure in the next round. That's like any advantage, whether it's you are raising, uh, coming out of an accelerator program like YC, or you, uh, have a really great network and so your network funds you right away, or you're in a really hot market.

All these things can lead you to believe like you don't need to put in a lot of effort or whatever. It's just going to happen the same way. Um, so that experience is, is spot on. The second one is that everyone like can fall into this trap of thinking that convincing investors to invest in your company [00:40:00] means Something that it doesn't.

Like, that you have product market fit. That you know a scalable growth channel. Like, you have convinced them that they should take a bet on your ability to get there. But founders will make this mistake over And over again. Is that they, they're like, oh, well they invested in us. So we're already there.

And then they'll skip steps. And that can be a kiss of death. And then that third thing that I loved, which is this idea that the two part sale, I think a two part sale is really challenging when you're selling to customers. And it's really challenging when you're selling to investors, which is convince them that there's a need and then say you have the solution.

Like That is always one of the most challenging sales. So if you can get to your ICP within your customer who understands the space or your investor who like better understands the problem space, then you get to directly go into saying, this is why we have the solution. So I love that. And it's, it's fun to even hear the [00:41:00] story arc of you being memo and then coming back to the, the, the power of, of the deck and the storytelling power of the deck.

So, um. Love that. Look, I, I think your grind has been amazing to get to just, um, three amazing fundraisers.

Mohak Nahta (2): And then the third learning, just

Host: Jason Yeh: Ooh,

Mohak Nahta (2): one, one more learning that I sort of got, uh, was that, and this was after the fundraiser, right? Don't think you have a great business unless you have a great fucking business and a great business actually and I think people in Silicon Valley Don't really sometimes don't really understand a business is Something that makes more that where you make more money than you spend Right and I feel like the only way you can weather a storm A funding winter and you can weather like tough conversations and you can weather anything and you can just Be on your own and command your own terms is when you've built a great business,

So if you built a company where you're making more money than you're spending, then. You know, you [00:42:00] can have all these luxuries, but if you haven't, knowing that you still rely on fundraising is important because I think somewhat this sort of, this pompousness sort of seeps in where you think that, okay, investors want me and I don't want investors and I don't want fundraising to, to run my company.

And that's a lie, right? It's like, you need it unless you've built a business where you don't need it. And if you don't need it, that's great. Every investor will come to you, right? Uh, but if you need it, knowing.

Host: Jason Yeh: It's amazing. so Mohawk, you, you had this amazing string of fundraisers and You're building a great business along the way. Well, a better business and you're getting to that great business. Um, at some point you went from just killing it, knocking out of the park at all of your fundraisers to that low point, right?

Where like it wasn't working. Do you remember, do you remember any like of the worst experiences? During fundraising, things that really hurt or cut deep and felt terrible. Any stories come to mind?

Mohak Nahta (2): [00:43:00] Yeah, I think, uh, well, uh, a lot of them, honestly, like, I think, uh, first was where investors would just lean you on, uh, you know, and then just show a lot of excitement until they wouldn't. Right.

I was lucky enough again to have a great cap table and Ben Silberman founder of Pinterest who's done enough fundraisers himself taught me that look. It's not done until the money is in. He said it's not even about the term sheet. Unless the money is in the bank account, it's not done.

You can't really lose focus on this. So yes, I mean, a lot of like, and it is demotivating, right? I'd be sort of like, you know, the ideal me would want to say that, okay, I wasn't affected. It is demotivating. think one thing that sort of, Also helped me was that I was still managing find, to find enough time to continue to work on the product and the business.

And then when you do that, then at least it helps you stick around and it helps you keep focused on what you were actually meant to do. It is not to fundraise, it is to build this, product to solve a problem.

Host: Jason Yeh: Tell me about the flip side moment. Um, so this would [00:44:00] not be as fun to ask you about your seed round or your pre seed angel round, but given where you were with a bunch of no's, VCs that were stringing you along. I love asking, do you remember where you were when Sequoia came to you and said, like, you know what, we want to do this.

We want to do this with you. Um, what was that experience like?

Mohak Nahta (2): uh, I remember and it was we had to make a decision. We had, uh, a couple of other term sheets, right? and, uh, I remember I was at WeWork and, our Sequoia partner came. and we had to make a decision by 3 p. m. that day, right? And he reached the WeWork at 2.

57 p. m. panting. And then he said, okay. We're into and he's like, I just wanted to come in person

Host: Jason Yeh: Oh my God.

Mohak Nahta (2): I was like, okay, great. This,

Host: Jason Yeh: What a great feeling.

Mohak Nahta (2): uh, you know, this, this, exactly. And I had felt great, but I think, the gesture also felt, felt, that they really cared.

And I think till date, that's true. They care. And so does [00:45:00] Elevation. And so do all other investors.

Host: Jason Yeh: Before the episode ended, I asked Mohawk to share the craziest customer experience he had so far with Atlas.

His answer was wild. Talk about divine timing.

Host: Jason Yeh:

Mohak Nahta (2): So, so many. I mean, I think the one that is very interesting is, uh, and I might be going into some visa details, but it's like, uh, back when we were still figuring stuff out, I was at the airport, I was going to Dubai for some work. And, um, you know, I see this lady and she's at the airport. And she's like, Oh, you know, here's my. U. S. visa and, uh, uh, let me board and the airline's like, no, you are not eligible. So people who have U. S. visas are eligible for a visa on arrival. And she's like, no. And she's like, what? I have to go meet my son. It's urgent. And, they're like, oh, your U.

S. visa has to be valid for six months or 180 days. And it's only valid for 177 days. It's interesting because she said, okay, now what do I do? They were like, [00:46:00] you have to change your flight. Like, okay, move me to the next step. Like, oh, and then the airline stuff was like, ma'am, you're not going to get this visa for the next three days.

And I was studying the Dubai visa. And I just thought from first principles that it should just take a couple of hours if it's fully automated, but they're like 10 layers of middlemen in between. Why do it? So I tell her with all, with. You know, this crazy disbelief, too much belief actually, be like, okay, look, you only have one option to make it like it is to use Atlas.

If you download the app right now and try it, you will get the visa.

Host: Jason Yeh: Haha,

Mohak Nahta (2): Behind, like in my heart, I had no way, I knew one way that we've never expended before, but we figured it out. And we never did a visa for Dubai before that. And she's like, okay, so she does it. And then I call my team. I'm like, look, we need to do this.

We need to get this done. And again, nothing was automated, right? So, so she applies. The visa doesn't come. It's 15 minutes. It's 20 minutes. I'm like, okay, look, I'm going to rush [00:47:00] to the gate and I'm going to try to hold them on. Uh, and you don't get a boarding pass by the way. She's still stuck at check in.

And then the check in counter says that, look, I'm going to wait for 10 minutes. I'm going to close check in. And I go to the gate and, uh, boarding's about to start. Check in is Almost close and she still convinces them to be open for another five minutes and for some reason the airline was delayed in getting out of the hangar which is never really happens and it was delayed by five minutes and uh and Harita

Host: Jason Yeh: no way.

Mohak Nahta (2): in those five minutes and I'm like okay relieved and then she does security first and then gets it and then you know I obviously board before and she's the last one to board.

And I get a call from her. And I thought, okay, fuck, like, did we do something wrong? Was she not allowed to, like, board? I'm really scared. I pick up and I'm like, what happened? And she's like, I made it. God bless you all and God bless Atlas. And, uh, and that was it. And it was just Yeah, exactly. I think we didn't do too much, except like [00:48:00] it was just Crazy, like, I mean, it was crazy for me just to ask her, but, but glad that it worked out for her and that she was able to meet, meet

Host: Jason Yeh: So good.

That was my conversation with Mohawk, nada, founder and CEO of Atlas. The world's leading visa platform. Let this be a reminder to those going out to fundraise that when things aren't working. Switch up your perspective. You'd be surprised where it might take you.

After the break, I'll be sitting down with my producer page to see if anything stumped her in this episode

Paige Randall: [00:49:00] Hi Jason. Um, I'm actually not going to ask how you are because then you feel obligated to say, yeah, I'm good. How are you? And then you just say, good. So I'm just gonna scratch that and get

into. The debrief.

Jason Yeh: a little bit of a, like a back thing. I did a workout this morning and I'm feeling it, but overall good. So the question is still helpful. I appreciate you caring about my wellbeing. I'm doing relatively good. Thank you.

Paige Randall: don't try to push that back on me. No, but this is, this is going to be a fun, a fun debrief because I don't want to ramble about all of my thoughts on the episode, but I just wanted to point out some things that I really enjoyed about this. First off, I always enjoy when I see a [00:50:00] founder talking about how they created a product that was to solve their own problem. I don't know. I'm not saying every great product is built this way, but so many amazing products I've found so far are built from founders trying to solve their own problems because they genuinely care about it and they're inspired by something that aggravates them in their own life. So I thought that was really fascinating. I also just wanted to touch on how I thought it was really cool how Some of the founders we bring on, we get to hear their story about the different rounds they raised and, and you might, uh, cover some golden nuggets that get shared along the way, but I thought it was really cool how Mohawk took the initiative to take time throughout the episode to share some pieces of it, pieces of advice that he had for founders. And he really was speaking to the listeners to be like, listen, and he would state something fascinating. And I just wanted to, Say,

him doing that.

Jason Yeh: well, I really, I mean, I really love Mohawk as a [00:51:00] founder. I think. He recognizes how difficult it is and he, like, I met him very early on in his journey. So I've been able to watch this all go down, but he is like, he's just a lifelong learner. He loves kind of like tinkering around product, around problem solving, even around the fundraise.

And so I think he is one of those guys who, once he learns something, he's not trying to like, Keep it to himself or like feel like this is an advantage that I can't share with the world. He learns things. He shares it with people. He solves problems for himself and then he generalizes it for everyone just like he did with, with Atlas.

So yeah, he's a great guy.

Paige Randall: Totally. I just wanted to highlight that cause it was, it was noticed if he's, if he's this, um, but something else that I did want to talk about was I thought he had a really interesting story behind the origin of his product. and how. Basically, [00:52:00] I found it very fascinating how he spoke about how he first gained traction for Atlas, which is, I guess, you know, we were coming out of COVID, which is so funny that he started like a travel startup during COVID.

I can't even imagine the horror, but. Anyways, COVID starts to get lifted a little bit and he notices that the Bahamas is making U. S. citizens get a visa before traveling there and the Bahamas is one of the only places you can travel to at the time. So he saw that and he was like, let's niche into this and let's capitalize off of this, which I think is brilliant. But I wanted to ask you a more, um, you know, overview type of question around like, in your eyes, what do you think of that ideology? Like, what do you

think about when you're a super early startup, um, is it better to niche down and find something to capitalize off of and expand from there? Or is there ever points where you could [00:53:00] do the opposite?


Jason Yeh: like, it is a hotly Not debated but discussed topic because it can feel to founders like they are getting advice from investors to go in very two, two very different directions. It's like, you know, we're venture capitalists. We only invest in extremely large opportunity businesses that have a huge TAM that could be multi billion dollar companies.

Track 1: And yet, A lot of times you'll hear VCs say like, we, we, we like seeing people focus and, and, and show that they can actually execute, show that they're validating a problem. So which one do you do? Do you say like, we're going after this thing, we're going to change the travel universe, uh, or are we solving the visa problem?

For U. S. citizens traveling to the Bahamas, like a tiny little niche. Um, and they, yeah, it's a good [00:54:00] question, Paige, and I'm glad you picked up on it. I think a lot of founders have the exact same question, which is why I love this segment. Um, the reality is, is that it has to be both. You have to be able to, in your story, but also the way you're executing be pointed in a very big direction, the vector of your company.

Has to be able to somehow in, in the future, reach something very large, but at the same time, we need to know as investors and as the founder, who's actually executing that you're solving a real problem that you're validating that you can make a difference and initial validation work. Goes way quicker when you niche down.

Uh, as in, if you know exactly what the problem is, you don't have to like, you don't have to dilute your, your marketing language or your, uh, training language or your onboarding stuff to [00:55:00] account for a bunch of different scenarios. Like for him, it's like, well, I guess I could. We could be a visa thing for everyone, but the difference between a US traveler to India and what they're looking for and why they're traveling and the visa application is somewhat similar, but Also very different from a US traveler who's trying to go to the Bahamas and has to go through that visa application, right?

Like one, one is probably much more vacation oriented. The other is probably like going to, you know, a lot more of going to see family or whatever. I'm just guessing. And if you have to make your product serve Those two variations and a hundred different, different other ones. It's very hard to talk to your customer and say, no, no, I have a problem solver for you and we're going to solve your problem.

And the experience that we build will be perfect for you. Um, it might be a much smaller market, but at least [00:56:00] you get to talk to one segment of customers and just know that you could speak directly to them and know that you can solve their problem really well. And then from there, if you're able to execute super quickly, you can then expand and expand and expand, which is what Mohawk was able to do.

The last thing I'll say is like. It is this balance point around how you execute and how you tell that story to VCs. But obviously Mohawk was able to say like, we know we have a big vision. We're going to nail this market. Here are the things that we think is going to happen. And once we show you the results of that, you'll know that when we roll it out to the rest of the world, all different types of travel combinations, that this is going to be a huge opportunity.

paige-randall_1_03-15-2024_151216: I agree with a lot of the points you brought up. I think it's one of those things too, where when you niche down to something super specific, it's also a way of proving that, you know, a specific customer will use your product. Like he was able to prove that a big group of people use this product, enjoy the [00:57:00] process along the way.

Yes. It was for something super specific, but now that, you know, Uh, Atlas is on their radar who says that they would go somewhere if they enjoyed their experience with that niched problem that was solved, then they're probably going to go back. So I'm, I was trying to think of it in the way of, uh, an investor's mind of like, cause also on one end, There might be a fear of the investor thinking, okay, well, is this all that they can do though?

Like, is this, are they going to be able to expand past this niche? Cause I think, you know, there's also that fear of like, I don't know if you have any comments on that, but of founders getting stuck in the, in the niche mode. And then they're still trying to raise venture capital, which venture capital is all about scaling to, for a huge opportunity.

So it's

just such an interesting dynamic.

Track 1: it's a good general question, like a question that we should generalize beyond just Mohawk situation. Um, and I'd say for Mohawk's situation, like much easier, [00:58:00] much, much, much easier for him to describe. Look, we're doing the visa application for U. S. travelers going to the Bahamas. For him to be able to say, once we nail that, like, I'll just show you what the differences are for travelers to India or travelers to Dubai or whatever.

Um, and so like that expansion feels like much more natural. but you're right that other cases it can feel Like a VC can feel like, ah, they are focusing on this one niche, you know, what is going to actually get them to go to the next level, add on more features and whatever. And that's where, that's where, um, a bit of storytelling, a

paige-randall_1_03-15-2024_151216: I feel like it comes down to the founder too, like you'll be able to tell if

Jason Yeh: and the founder.

Track 1: Yeah, right. Right. Like if that's definitely part of the thing that a VC is looking for is like, do we, do we feel like this founder just like, Is one of those people that is going to keep going, right? Like [00:59:00] if they keep going and you know, they max out this initial market, like, is this a founder that's going to be like, sweet, I just, I did it, you know, I'm done.

Or is it a founder that is, is like in love with the space and love with the customer type and just wants to continue to like add on, expand, expand, expand. And that is definitely something someone is, is going to be looking into. The other thing I'll add onto this. Very specific thing is, you know, in certain situations you can niche down and you can be in a niche, but like one of the things that I often help founders talk through is the fact that, yeah, we're starting in this niche.

There are a lot of adjacent niches around me, but even this niche, even this niche, if we just focus on this, is already like a rel is a big business. So having all those elements in how you tell the story and just show that you are a founder that wants to keep going are, are really important parts of that.

And I definitely think Mohawk has that in spades. He's just the [01:00:00] guy that is going to continue marching and marching and marching. And I certainly saw that when I first met him. Um, Put a little

paige-randall_1_03-15-2024_151216: Like I noticed that,

Track 1: I saw. And then

other VCs have done the same thing.

paige-randall_1_03-15-2024_151216: yeah, I noticed that just by listening to him, this episode is, you can tell he has a strategic mind in a lot of, and he shows it through, uh, A lot of parts of his fundraising process. Like another thing that intrigued me was when he shared that he had thrown all of his investors from like all previous rounds, like angel rounds or the seed round, I believe, and for his series A, he had kind of, Mentioned in the group, he threw them into a WhatsApp and he had mentioned in the WhatsApp group chat with all the investors, letting them know like that he was going to be raising, not for any specific ask, not for any specific purpose, just to let them know because he knew if he did that, they would probably be more likely to go talk to their friends about it, who are also investors, who are [01:01:00] also in those spaces.

And it seems like such a simple thing, right? But that is so strategic. And I just, I just thought it was fascinating.

Track 1: Yeah. There are a lot of different ways to do this, but it's, it's funny. You start by trying to attract investors to get on your team, to invest in you, to join your cap table. And then once they're on your cap table, there's still the possibility of some gamesmanship and influencing them. I often talk about this idea of like actually gamifying.

The support you receive from your investors and like making it competitive, you know, one of those ways that Mohawk was able to do it was put everyone into a WhatsApp group. So when he asks for help and somebody on the chat on the thread or in the group chat Actually delivers the help. They say I delivered the help.

Mohawk thanks them in front of everyone. And then everyone else who isn't helping is like, Oh man, like this person is actually helping. [01:02:00] Um, and you know, this in particular is helpful in a company that's doing well, because As investors, you want to, you want to curry favor, you want to be, uh, you wanted to be perceived by a great founder and a good company as one of the investors that helped along the way.

It helps add to the, the reputation of investors and allows them to get other deals. And so, You know, not everyone can like pit their investors against each other, but certainly as a company is, is taking off and doing well, uh, there's a, there are a lot of opportunities to make sure that you get a lot of value out of your investors, like Mohawk did.


paige-randall_1_03-15-2024_151216: That is a funny dynamic. It made me think like, just, just how Mohawk wants to kind of plant these seeds to be introduced to other founders, other investors that he, he might want to work with. Investors also want to plant those seeds and help founders to hope, like founders that they really think [01:03:00] are amazing to also hope to be introduced to other amazing founders through them.

So it's kind of a two way street. I never thought of it like that before.

Track 1: I think those are the type of subtleties around the venture capital founder relationship dynamic that I'm glad you start, you know, as crystallizing your head, because like those dynamics really count in terms of your ability to fundraise your ability to, um, you know, get value out of your existing investors, but for sure.

You know, Mohawk wants to get introduced to other VCs, VCs want Mohawk to talk to other great founders and say, Jason Yeh was amazing on the cap table, or XYZ was amazing. This firm was so good. Um, and they also, You know, that's one other slight difference is they also want Mohawk to go to them and say like, Hey, I just met an amazing founder.

Like I think you should definitely look at this, right? That's some of the best deal flow that a venture capitalist can [01:04:00] get.

paige-randall_1_03-15-2024_151216: Yep. So touche Mohawk. That's not the right word to use. I don't know why I just used touche,

but I mean, yeah, I

Track 1: Bravo Mohawk.

paige-randall_1_03-15-2024_151216: was actually looking up what that meant like yesterday because I used it wrong. So let's just say, uh,

Track 1: No, I get the vibe. Bravo Mohawk. We're very impressed with what you've done, both in your company and your fundraisers and your leveraging of your cap table to really build an amazing company. So yeah, that

was an awesome conversation.


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