An extremely savvy investor and an equally astute marketer, Romi Mahajan has invested in a number of niche and interesting companies. Express Computer spoke with Romi Mahajan, to understand some of his recent and future bets
Romi, It’s been a few years since we caught up. What is new in your world?
Thank you for the question. I’ve always enjoyed interacting with you and have always grown and learned a lot from the conversations. There is a lot going on in my professional world. A few exciting examples: I’m working with a fantastic, category-defining company called Pepper out of New York City. We are helping create the category of “AssetTech” which is a very promising area within FinTech. On the subject of FinTech, I’m excited by a company called Zact, which is a platform for payment apps and by Rook Capital, which is helping redefine the methods of home-ownership in the US, with a DeFi backbone. I’m watching amazing things related to communities growing with companies like Data Hunters. And I’m deep in the energy space with a new, stealth play in Fusion. So a full plate but fantastic overall.
Is there a common thread that ties all these together?
Actually I’m working on other things as well but to answer the question, yes, there are commonalities and indeed unifying principles here. First of all, I must mention that I have always said that I require “P.I.A.” to do great work. People, Impact, and Autonomy. Each of these allows me to connect with fantastic people, has an outsized impact on the market and the world, and confers a sense of autonomy on all players involved. In the absence of those principles, I’d lose energy and interest. Also, I only work with companies that have some large, non-profit based pillars. Pursuing success is fine but a larger and humane vision is required too.
How do you see the Indian Market right now?
I’m sure there are far better people to address this than me, but I will make a few observations. First, I’m incredibly lucky to be associated with some dynamic Indian firms like Tripoto, ITILITE, Advaiya, and others. They are all doing world-leading work in their own right. What I see, happily, is the sense that even the domestic market is picking up and offers a great test bed for superb ideas. I also see an incredible simultaneity now in the Indian market and others markets, which is to say, the time-lag is gone. I continue to believe, however, that the technology sector in India is too far removed from the real, deep problems that affect the bottom 500 million Indians and think that the island mentality has to be gotten rid of.
What are the most important areas in Tech right now?
I see the question as needing to be broken into a few parts. With regard to innovation, I can’t think of a more pressing area than Energy. The global climate is beset with seemingly runaway anthropogenic heating. Ecosystems, livelihoods, and lives are being destroyed. While some of the damage is irreversible, we have choices to make about our collective futures. So the focus on Fusion as a carbon-free and possibly massively efficient source of energy is key. So that is paramount. With regards to the over-reach of tech, I believe strongly that Big Tech has to be regulated more and that companies like Meta need to be considered as dangers to the very fabric of democracy. We are at a crossroads in humanity and we need our creative and collective energies spent in producing good things and stopping bad things.