Manasi Shah: The Intuitive Investor

Having joined Accel in 2019, Shah is currently a vice-president at the venture capital firm and focuses on early-stage investments across fintech, consumer and SaaS

By Soumya Duggal

Manasi Shah, Vice President, Accel

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Thirty-one-year-old Manasi Shah believes that venture capital is an apprenticeship business, one that relies largely on accumulated wisdom, though not without an occasional novel perspective that defies traditional learning. It is this balance between the old and the new that she strives to strike as one of the youngest members of Accel's investment team.

"Funds such as Accel, which have almost zero attrition and many wonderful investors, all of whom have been here for over a decade, are an amazing place to learn and experience different investment styles. My goal is to keep learning while not forgetting to bring a fresh perspective," she says.

Armed with an undergrad degree in Economics as well as an MBA from the Wharton School of Business, Pennsylvania, Shah began her career at Bain & Co., New York, working primarily on growth projects and private equity investments in the technology space. Having joined Accel in 2019, she is currently a vice-president at the firm and focuses on early-stage investments across fintech, consumer and SaaS.

Investing in early-stage companies can be tricky and Shah uses a variety of metrics and strategies to assess the success potential of the pitches she receives. "Since in younger companies, most of the decisions are made based on the founding team, I really value entrepreneurs who are obsessed with their customer. I have realized that we all tend to size markets, but one can go wrong with the same as well since it can be tough to catch inflection points, so what matters is the shift in trends or latent pain points, etc. Finally, the business levers and fundamentals should make sense to create profits. It is rarer than one thinks to find a combination of the above, but that is part of the constant search for outliers," she said.

Although the last year has witnessed quite an uproar about a funding crisis in the startup ecosystem, Shah argues that capital is available aplenty for strong models "If your business fundamentals are strong in an exciting market, there's no reason you should not receive funding," she states. Accel raised a new fund worth $650 million at the beginning of 2022 and the firm, according to Shah, plans to actively deploy it this year.

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