Partner at Kleiner Perkins, Mamoon Hamid Visits LUMS
On Friday, March 4, the Suleman Dawood School of Business (SDSB) at LUMS hosted the Fireside Chat with Mamoon Hamid, Partner at Kleiner Perkins, an American venture capital firm that invests in ideas across industries and continents. Hamid has a BS in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Purdue University, MS from Stanford University and an MBA from Harvard Business School.
Hamid was in conversation with Babar and Ismail Khan, cofounders of Tajir, a B2B e-commerce marketplace. The app has raised over USD 18 million since becoming the first Pakistan-focused company funded by Y Combinator. The company is working to improve the supply chain and availability of products, and the pricing and digitizing of mom-and-pop stores, which struggle to purchase inventory. The company last year raised USD 17 million in a Series A round led by Kleiner Perkins.
Hamid spoke to the audience about how he became interested in becoming a venture capitalist. “There was no formula to becoming a venture capitalist other than studying the biographies of people who became one.”
Drawing on his 17 years of experience of being a venture capitalist, Hamid shared some lessons with the audience. “If I was to distill it to what matters most to me as an investor, it is the founders and what drives them to start the companies that they are starting. Typically, the reason behind starting a company is the inherent desire to solve a problem. You look for that relentless energy in the people in the back,” he explained.
There is a need to pair the caliber and the desire of the founders with market opportunities and a challenge that technology can address today, he added.
“As a technologist I also have to see if the time for this is now. The question of why now is very important to what we do. We need to find out the enabling technologies that are available today that allow these founders to build something successful,” shared Hamid.
He also gave advice to aspiring entrepreneurs and venture capitalists in Pakistan. “Early in your career, optimise on learning first and foremost. The focus should not be on money but on learning from people around who have set up interesting companies.
“The ecosystem in Pakistan is still developing and there are a lot of macro trends present that support technology-enabled businesses in Pakistan. This is essential to attract venture capitalists to invest in the country,” he added.
Vice Chancellor, Dr. Arshad Ahmad, was also part of the audience and shared his thoughts at the end of the session. He talked about the vision of the National Incubation Centre and shared details about the Centre incubating and accelerating start-ups that solve problems in high impact sectors for Pakistan.
Dr. Ahmad also shared how the University is breaking traditional boundaries between disciplines “We have adopted ‘Learning Without Borders’ in which we move forward in breaking silos among the disciplines. The aim is to unify expertise to solve the grand challenges and problems Pakistan has, particularly in water, energy, entrepreneurship, gender and more.”
The Fireside Chat ended with a QnA from the audience. You can watch the complete session here.