Shub Bhattacharya


In the world of venture, quite simply 'Nothing is true. Everything is permitted.'

Shub Bhattacharya

My Backstory

Where were you born?

I grew up in Essen, the industrial heart of Germany, where people are known for being hard workers, straight shooters, down to earth, and easy to grab a beer with. My parents taught me the value of dreaming big and working hard. My mother founded a successful biomedical startup in the 1990s, growing it for 15 years before selling to a large firm. She taught me about perseverance, breaking through barriers, and doing simple things better than overconfident incumbents. My father started as a car mechanic before founding his own dealership in the 1970s. He saw success come and go with industry changes, but his amazing relationship skills allowed him to relate to anyone.

Starting at age 8, my parents had me help out on a small farm, which helped me appreciate physical labor. In my teens, I worked admin roles at my mom's startup, learning efficiency and attention to detail. At 16, I took a monotonous job besides high school at a bank’s account statement printing department that taught me patience - which is valuable as an early-stage investor. I studied energy management and finance, doing my undergrad in Germany before a Master's at Purdue and Tsinghua.

After university, I started in corporate finance and M&A, focusing on renewable energy deals. I then joined a large utility amid industry transformation during and after Fukushima. My role changed to business development in batteries, grid storage, and distributed energy. I also supported early tech investments at the intersection of energy and power retail tech. Later, I helped a global engineering firm leverage its vast hardware expertise to partner with early-stage hard tech founders - right before embarking on my own journey as a founder (unsuccessfully).

Where were you born, where were you raised?

I was born in Mumbai (but am old enough to admit it was called 'Bombay' back then) and was raised in Hyderabad.

What is the area you are from famous for?

A decade ago, I would have said that Hyderabad is most famous for its Biryani.

But today, quite fittingly in the age of AI, we are proudly represented by perhaps the most famous Hyderabadi of them all - Satya Nadella.

What did/do your parents do?

My father led the India business of a global industrial company before trying his hand at entrepreneurship, while my mother served in the Indian Statistical Service.

Any siblings when you grew up?

I am the middle one of three siblings. I have two sisters, one elder and the other younger.

What are the two things (outside of school) that you spent the most time on when you were a kid or teenager?

As a kid, I spent countless hours playing and watching cricket and played competitively for my school as a fast-bowling allrounder. As much as I fancied myself as a future member of the Indian Cricket team, an analysis of probabilities and likely outcomes, swayed me towards the "dark" path of a more traditional career

What are you missing from your younger years?

Playing cricket.

What did you study, and where?

I studied Chemical Engineering at NIT Trichy and did my MBA at the Indian School of Business.

Summarize your work after university and before Foundamental.

I started my career in the Oil & Gas industry in the Middle East. I did not realize it then, but designing Oil & Gas plants as a Process Engineer would give me an early view into how successfully executing projects in the real world, had many more moving parts than we ever taught at school.

As a preface to my eventual tryst with entrepreneurship and value creation through venture , I then moved back to India and joined a company which was attempting to complete the transition from being a family owned business, to one that was owned by a Private Equity investor, to an eventual sale. I was entrusted with conceptualising new business lines that could be seeded as ventures.

I started my first venture, an E-commerce venture selling Diamonds & precious jewelry, in an attempt to replicate what Blue Nile had done, in India. The journey as a first-time founder was heady, full of intense highs and heartbreaks. I made far too many mistakes, the most important of which was to try to overcome market timing without the luxury of infinite time.

Poetically, a failed venture led to me switching over to the dark(er) side of venture - joining Kae Capital. My 4 years at Kae Capital opened me to a whole new world of outsized possibilities. Meeting thousands of founders building everything from MMORPGs to regenerative organs was exhilarating, equivalent to constantly running a sprint of intellectual curiosity. I led 15 investments, with the highlights being Zetwerk, HealthKart, 1mg, Disprz and Dailyrounds.

Having been on both sides of the venture table, I also decided to publish my experiences and observations in my first book - 'VCs are from Venus, Entrepreneurs are from Mars'.

What is your story of getting into Foundamental?

A work trip to China in 2017 was an eye-opener for me in more ways than can be described. Real-life example after real-life example showed how investing with conviction and in resonance with timing can unlock outcomes that are not only life-changing but also large and transformative at a Global scale. I knew then that my next adventure would have to be one that is on a Global scope and in a sector whose time had arrived.

I Am On The Lookout For

What makes a great VC investor?

Having one or two superpowers and incorporating them into one’s toolkit in a signature style.

What are 3 things you look for in a founder?

Unfair advantage or founder-market fit or unique insight on market gap.

The humility that will allow them to forever learn and improve in order to keep compounding on themselves.

Treat me and other shareholders with respect, and uphold our interests.

What are the things in a business that excite you?

Potential to become a category creator.

Opportunities that target markets that could eventually yield a TAM in excess of $100 Billion.

Value propositions and business models that ride tailwinds that are accelerating irreversible market shifts.

Businesses with the potential to build a brand that gives them quasi-monopolistic, tollbooth-like power.

What are mistakes that AWESOME founders don’t make, but many other founders make and you see repeatedly?

Ignore the importance of quality of partner / partnership (or to do right by the shareholders).

Experiment with processes or decisions that either lower the outcome of a success or create existential risk.

Not have the maturity to take accountability and ownership in the most difficult situations.

Underestimate the importance of consistent compounding over time.

What are values that are ultra important to you in other people in business life. Why?

Meritocracy. Fairness and consistency. Honesty. Humility.

Describe what 'partnership' means to you.

A relationship between equals who complement each other’s strengths and weaknesses, that is built on respect and reciprocity.

What are you chasing in your life?

Freedom and power.

What intrigues you? As in, you see or hear something like this, you stop whatever you currently do.

Potential to become a category creator.

Opportunities that target markets that could eventually yield a TAM in excess of $100 Billion.

Value propositions and business models that ride tailwinds that are accelerating irreversible market shifts.

Businesses with the potential to build a brand that gives them quasi-monopolistic, tollbooth-like power ;)

Think of VC as an artisan craft, where every craftsmen has their unique method and finesse. How would you describe your unique 'craft' to VC?

Striking a balance between incorporating others’ opinions and getting swayed by them.

Focusing on 'where to play' rather than 'how to play' to maximize returns.

Seeing (and foreseeing) patterns and analogies.

Any favorite readings?

Over the last 5 years, I have transitioned away from books in favour of podcast-style conversations as I find them more authentic, less biased and richer in detail.

As long as the conversation is authentic, anything will do - History, Geopolitics, Spirituality, Economics, Science and maybe even a bit of Investing.

What is your favorite quote or mantra that can be applied in a business context?

'Nothing is true, everything is permitted.'

Cool. Now give a second quote or mantra you like in a business context.

'If the enemy is in range, so are you.'

What is your secret ninja-skill?

Uncovering patterns and analogies.

In what ways do you feel inferior to some people you look up to?

I feel grateful to have people that I can emulate and see as a source of motivation, which includes founders I have had the privilege of backing. I don’t feel inferior as a result, but thankful for the knowledge and access to such people.

If you were a super-hero, what would be your super-hero name?

Iron Man (Why ? That’s a crazy insider story !)

What is one person in the world you would like to have dinner with?

My wife.

What can you nerd out over for hours with the right discussion partner?

Ancient Aliens - After all… Who do you think built the pyramids ?

Keto and fasting lifestyle.

Geopolitics & History.

The dumb things that VCs and founders do !

When someone who knows you in your business life very well were to describe you, what adjectives would they use for you?

Consistent. Sincere. Chill. Intelligent.

Is there something you would never mind spending a lot of money on?

Great food.

Selected Partnerships

Series A