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This South Asian Female Investor Is Disrupting the Male-Dominated World Of Venture Capital Serena Dayal, a partner at SoftBank's Vision Fund, is a venture capital visionary and sits on the board of several notable unicorn start-ups

By Ajay Choudhary

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Serena Dayal

The venture capital industry today is male-dominated — often dubbed the "bros club" — but a growing number of women are making notable strides in the space. One such changemaker is Serena Dayal, a South Asian disruptor in venture capitalism with an eye for potential and a trail of investments in fast-rising startups.

Serena has made a name for herself by equipping promising start-ups with resources to make their ideas a reality. She boasts an impressive portfolio stacked with unicorn-level companies and has raised hundreds of millions of dollars for companies pushing the boundaries of technological innovation.

Disrupting the investment landscape

Serena's focus on innovative technologies in health, property, and media, amongst others, has facilitated her rise to her role as partner at SoftBank Vision Fund - a titan in technology-centric investments.

She has played a key role in SoftBank's portfolio of strategic investments in late-stage consumer technology, consumer internet, and property tech pioneered by mission-driven tech companies - including Forward, Roofstock, Standard Cognition, and others.

Such notable investments earned her a spot on the board of those companies and the role of board observer at Go1 and Netradyne — from which she can help scale the global impact of these ventures.

Serena has invested in several game changing tech innovators, including:

  • Picsart, one of the world's largest digital creative platforms;
  • IRL (In Real Life), a rising social platform fostering connections "in real life" and identifying virtual and in-person events through which like-minded people can connect.

The investments catapulted these companies to the elite club of unicorns, and on the path to guaranteed success.

From Princeton to SoftBank

Her passion for technology and societal development — untainted by an industry in which women are severely underrepresented — can be traced to her early days. Serena began her journey at Princeton University in 2003, majoring in economics and politics and graduating with a Bachelor of Arts four years later.

She kick-started her incredible career at Goldman Sachs, where precious few are allowed passage. How few, you ask? Goldman Sachs's acceptance rate sits at an unbelievably small 1.5%.

But, defying those odds, Serena got in and worked at Goldman Sachs's investment banking division for the next ten years. She went on to become the vice president of the investment banking division, charting a course into the world of business and private equity.

Afterward, Serena took up the position of senior vice president at Forest Investment Group, a leading investment manager now tending to over $44 billion in assets. The transition was her foray into private equity and venture capital after a decade of investment banking.

Serena's keen eye for businesses with high potential led her, at this time, to invest in Open Door, a San Francisco-based digital platform redefining trade in real estate.

Her vision for the future of technology never faltered, and her career retained its upward trajectory. SoftBank Vision Fund, whose investments Serena has guided, boasts an excellent portfolio of innovators, including AI-focused companies seeking to make their mark in this age of AI.

The investor who gives back

Aside from being a successful investor, Serena is also a strong advocate of corporate responsibility and community values. She is a part of a team investing in the betterment of society through a slew of corporate volunteering initiatives.

She invested in IRL (In Real Life), A product aimed at creating meaningful, high quality real world connections.

IRL's unique offering garnered positive attention at first, but the seismic shift in the market post-pandemic saw the company, like tech giants today, downsize its workforce — a move that made the news.

Providing an environment for productive interaction at a time of coronavirus-fueled lockdowns aided IRL's publicity, a development symbolic of Serena's desire to promote societal growth.

Serena's impact extends beyond just her investments. She also teaches a course in CREtech+ on business development, explaining to up-and-comers in technology the pitfalls of improperly scaling business processes in an age with intense competition on seemingly every front.

Inspiring a new generation

Serena Dayal is a true example of what hard work paired with genuine passion can achieve. Navigating a global stage as part of a minority, she has still made a significant impact in the start-up world and facilitated the rise of unicorn companies. Serena Dayal hopes to make a recognizable dent in the investment world and help entrepreneurs employ the right strategy to scale dramatically.

Serena's story can serve as an inspiration to women everywhere aspiring to become venture capitalists. Her path from Princeton to SoftBank is a testament to the fact that anything is possible with hard work, determination, and a growth mindset. With her continued success and impact, Serena is poised to become a role model for a new generation of female investors.
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