Hem Suri currently serves as the Founder & Managing Partner of Spark Growth Ventures. SGV is a community driven technology VC firm focused on Pan American and select global early-stage investments and is at the forefront of democratizing access to the venture capital asset class by bringing education, access, transparency and engagement for all accredited investors through a no-commitment and highly discounted VC investment product.
Hem is an accomplished investment, board and executive management leader with two decades of experience as an entrepreneur, venture capital & private equity investor, board professional, investment banker, general management executive as well as a researcher. Hem’s industry experience spans software, technology services, food manufacturing, industrials, transportation, financial services, property & casualty insurance, restaurants, education tech, healthcare and digital marketing. His passion lies in early-stage companies where he loves “rolling-up his sleeves” to help create and executive 360⁰ strategies to maximize commercial outcomes.
Outside of his work with SGV, Hem also serves as a Venture Partner with NextGen Venture Partners, an early and late-stage venture capital firm. Previously, he was the Co-Founder and Managing Partner of ClearVision Equity Partners, a 2x Interim CEO of emerging companies, an executive of a KKR Private Equity portfolio company, an investment banker on Wall Street as well as a functional leader in multiple Fortune 500 companies in the US. Hem has also done cutting-edge research at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications, Urbana-Champaign early in his career.
Hem has served on over 20 startup and social enterprise boards across US and is heavily involved with several prominent incubators and accelerators in Southern California supporting budding entrepreneurs. He has executed 40+ venture, private equity and M&A transactions with over $2B in total capital spanning twelve years at Spark Growth Ventures, ClearVision Equity Partners, Deutsche Bank, a KKR private equity portfolio company as well as an independent board professional working with startups.
Hem has an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School, an M.S. in Industrial Engineering from University of Illinois and a B.Tech. in Mechanical Engineering from Indian Institute of Technology, New Delhi. He is passionate about the environment, equality and education for under-privileged children and loves reading, traveling and active pursuits.
Where do you find investments?
We have a multi-pronged approach. A lot of the opportunities are through referrals from our network of VCs, super angel groups, founderrelationships as well as incubators/accelerators we actively work with and provide pro bono support to. We also have inbound flow from various sources given our rapidly expanding brand recognition around the world and complement this with outbounds we do on our own. Lastly, our unique community-driven model comprises of 500+ engaged members across all continents and we get a significant amount of deal-flow from the community. In fact, around 30% of the deals we have executed to date have been sourced by our community from across the globe. We can easily see 500-1000 opportunities in a year (without marketing) and only do around 6-8 new investments a year, so our acceptance rate is quite low.
What stages do you look to invest?
We are typically late seed to series A investors but opportunistically deploy a bit earlier and often at much later stages also. Our typical first check is between $500K to $2M but we do have the capacity to deploy larger checks up to $5M for high conviction and/or lead checks.
What types of investments and sectors are of interest, and what criteria do you use to determine where you invest?
-Geographically, we invest across the US as well as other countries. We prefer startups which can scale globally.
-Strong Team: We believe that a strong and stable founding team is most critical to a startup’s success. We look for and invest in serial entrepreneurs, domain experts and leaders.
-Technology Orientation: We primarily invest in businesses with software enabled products and services but are open to investing in hardware-as-a-service (HaaS) startups with significant software play.
-Business Model: We prefer B2B business models but open to select B2B2C and B2C models as well.
-Capital Efficiency: We are not fans of “growth for the sake of growth” trends. We look for capital efficient mind-sets and business models which can scale.
-Verticals: We are expert generalist and mostly vertical agnostic. However, we do not invest in businesses serving pharma, biotech, life sciences and digital assets.
-Role: We tend to play an active role through board participation, where appropriate.
-Culture: We assign high value to authenticity, grit, transparency, integrity, inclusion and a mindset of holistic approach to business creation and success.
How are you “changing the room”?
We think we are moving the needle on many fronts.Firstly, we are democratizing the VC asset class. We want to enable access, transparency, education and flexibility for ALL accredited investors so they can invest alongside HNIs, UHNIs and other traditional LPs in the innovation ecosystem in a risk-appropriate and scalable manner. Therefore, we have created a no-commitment, low minimum check, >50% discounted fee product with the flexibility of creating your own portfolio for any and all 90% of our community members from six continents are first time VC investors even though we also have ~50 family offices, HNIs, UHNIs and seniors VC/PE/Hedge Fund/Investment Banking professionals also on our platform. Through our innovative approach to VC investing, we are creating an equitable investing world and opening up access to segments of society who traditionally have not been able to participate in the impressive wealth creation machine of the innovation economy
Our global community driven model comprising of 500+ members represents amazing diversity across genders, race, ethnicity, nationalities, professional backgrounds and socio-economic status. We engage our community and enable our community to work alongside us on deal sourcing, diligence and post-investment deal management. This ensures that we are not biased in terms of which founders and ideas we explore for partnering up with. We are truly meritocratic but with all things equal, are looking to make our contribution on the diversity, equity and inclusion front. The best proof of this is that:
- Almost 50% of our portfolio companies have at least one woman founder/co-founder
- There are at least twelve nationalities represented in the leadership team of our portfolio companies and many more across SGV’s board of advisors and community members (six continents)
Is there anything else we should know about you?
We have been growing organically without even a marketing deck purely from word-of-mouth (inbounds and member referrals) pretty much right after my first outreach to my closest relationship around the time of launching this unique model in August 2020. So, if anyone would like to learn more and possibly join our community driven democratized model then please feel free to reach out anytime.