Rajan Anandan

  • SEA
  • +
  • Seed/Surge
“The most prolific leaders I’ve met have all had common traits. All of them embody the true spirit of being grateful, they’re missionary, extraordinarily resilient, and all of them focus on the things they CAN control.”

I learned the importance of gratitude and resilience very early on in life. I grew up in Sri Lanka during a 30-year period of civil unrest and ethnic conflict between Sinhalese and Tamil ethnic groups. My background is a mix of these two groups; I’m half Sinhalese and half Tamil.

When I was 15, my brother and I narrowly escaped death. We were on our way home from school on a day that 50,000 Sri Lankans died. Ahead of us and behind us, people were pulled out of their cars and killed right in front of us. The only reason we were spared that day is that we were able to converse in both languages and so we could speak the language they were looking for. After that day, I’ve simply felt grateful to be alive.

A situation like that can also make you very hateful, but I chose not to be. I chose to be grateful instead. I wake up each morning happy to be alive and well, and I try to live my life to the fullest.

My father passed away when I was a teenager and I wanted to really make sure my family was taken care of. I wanted to work for Ford motor company manufacturing cars, but Ford didn’t hire international students at the time. I ended up at McKinsey instead. And, many years later I found myself leading Google in Southeast Asia and India. If I’d gotten that job at Ford, who knows what a completely different path I’d be on right now.

I’m drawn to people who think big – very very big. Those who are also humble and incredibly curious. The ability to learn very quickly, be agile, and adapt is important for any founder.

The meetings I want to have are the ones where I hear deep insights that make me say ‘wow’ several times. When founders are able to tell me something about their users or their business in ways I hadn’t thought about before. This happens when there is a strong founder-market fit, and it’s super clear why this founder deserves to win in this market.

I want founders to ‘get real’. Tell me where you’re really at. If you don’t have PMF yet, say it like it is. If you don’t have an answer to a question, say you don’t know and don’t make it up.

I want founders to think about how they’re going to get to a billion dollars of revenue, not a 100 million. I need to see founders thinking big; thinking 10X; thinking about moonshot ideas and goals.

And finally, at the seed stage, the ability to articulate what they’re building through great storytelling is critical. Because there’s simply not enough data.

Get in touch with Rajan

Beaches / history and civilizations / outdoor rooftop bars / learning / coffee / music

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