August 26, 2019

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Ms. Desai's interview with Total Capitalism (Part 1)

Ms. Nin Desai is the, President and CEO, of NIN Ventures (or NIN.VC) –  a crowdfunded technology venture capital firm based out of Chicago. Ms. Desai has been awarded 2015 CEO Of The Year – Illinois, for innovation and contribution to the Venture Capital & Private Equity industry by Acquisition International magazine and Private Equity Fund Manager to Watch for 2017 by Corporate America. NIN.VC has been the recipient of several awards including Wealth and Finance International Magazine's "Best Technology Venture Capital Fund - Illinois" for the Alternative Investment Awards, the "Best Crowdfunded Technology Venture Capital Fund - US" for the Fund Awards, and “Leaders in Private Equity – Illinois” by Corporate Vision magazine to name a few. She has been featured in Chicago Sun Times, Chicago Tribune, Forbes, Inc., WGN's After Hours with Rick Kogan, NBC Weekend Web with Charlie Wojciechowski, Bloomberg's Taking Stock, and Equities, to name a few. 

1. As of 2017, 6% of the venture capitalists were women and only 2.7% women owned businesses received venture capital funding. How and why did you decide to pursue a career in venture capital?

I started my professional career at Merrill Lynch with their private client group. At Merrill, we managed portfolios of high net worth individuals. While it was great to trade stocks and bonds, I was always curious about how these companies went public. Thus, after business school I joined Pacific Crest Securities (Now Key Bank). PCS was a technology focused investment bank, with a global presence focused on software, communications, semiconductors, and Internet & Digital Media. In 2005, IPO’s were at the peak and it was amazing to take number of companies public, but that lead to another question, How do VCs know what companies to invest in and which ones to take public? Thus I joined Alpha Capital Partners, a private equity firm based in Chicago, after which is launched NIN Ventures (or NIN.VC). 

2. VCs always ask entrepreneurs what is different about your company, so what is unique about NIN.VC or how do you differentiate yourself from other VCs?

A typical investor base in a venture fund would be institutions, pension funds, endowments, etc. NIN.VC is a unique and first of its kind crowdfunded technology venture capital fund for accredited investors who can invest in the NIN Ventures Technology (QP) Fund with a minimum amount of $100,000 using multiple investment options like self-directed IRAs, defined benefit plan, or a regular checking / savings account.

*An accredited investor is an individual with an income of more than $200,000 per year, or a joint income of $300,000 in each of the last two years OR has a net worth exceeding $1m either individually or jointly with his or her spouse, excluding the primary residence. For an Entity, any trust, with total assets in excess of $5 million qualifies.

3. Necessity is the mother of all inventions, was there a reason to crowd fund your venture fund?

The 2008 Financial Meltdown led to a liquidity crises for entrepreneurs, companies, LPs, & VCs. Fewer IPOs means no exits for VCs, no returns for LPs, and as a result venture funds were on a decline. No new funds means less startup funding, low employment, and slow economic growth. Thus on April 5, 2012 The Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act (the JOBS Act) was introduced which enables crowdfunding for all Americans and that’s how NIN Ventures came into existence.

“Not only NIN.VC taps into a new investor pool, we also provides diversification, take a board seat on all our investments and lend the necessary support that an entrepreneur needs to build a business, like they would get at a traditional venture capital fund. And the most IMPORTANT part that investors cares about is the ability to direct invest and enjoy direct returns, which is not the case with a traditional venture capital fund.”

4. If you could give advice to founders who want to raise venture capital funding, what would it be?

Every VC has a sweet spot when it comes to investing. At NIN Ventures, we like to invest in disruptive technologies. A disruptive technology is an innovation that changes an existing industry and also helps create a new market and value network, displacing an earlier technology or a way of doing business. At NIN.VC we are not afraid of investing in first time industry movers and are also founder friendly. We stand with our Entrepreneur(s) through thick or thin.

5. How do you juggle spending time between family and work?

For me, I had to pick one. ☺


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