“In the Studio,” Lightspeed’s Bipul Sinha Is Looking For Founders With An Edge

Editor’s Note: Semil Shah is an EIR with Javelin Venture Partners and has been a contributor to TechCrunch since January 2011. You can follow him on Twitter at @semil.

“In the Studio” welcomes an engineer, originally from India, who came to the U.S., earned an MBA, worked stints as a software engineer, investment banker, and database architect before becoming a venture capitalist and now, an up-and-coming investor who makes big bets on both consumer and enterprise IT products.

Bipul Sinha, a partner at Lightspeed Venture Partners, is a rare breed of young venture investor. Having made large investments in consumer products like Hoot Suite, Peel, and Pulse, as well as enterprise companies like Bromium and Nutanix, Sinha keeps his filters relatively simple, looking for founders with what he describes as “an edge” to either offer a better value proposition for an existing market or an entirely new idea that could form an entirely new market.

In this discussion, Sinha is remarkably direct and clear about how he approaches investing, especially the amount of risk he and his partners are willing to take in early-stage enterprise IT companies, many of which require 1-2 years of stealth engineering work, sometimes more, and are large Series A financings right off the bat. Sinha also explains how Lightspeed is thesis-driven, believes there is still significant value to be created as a byproduct of the disruption of the IT stack. Sinha notes that large enterprise spends half a trillion dollars annually on software and services, and this creates incredible competition to not only win some of that business, but upend incumbents in the process. Finally, Sinha shares a glimpse into his style of interacting with founders, spending a lot of time with them pre-investment to boil down ideas, and post-investment to help with recruiting the core team.