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Interview with Arun Krishnakumar, Partner at Green Shores Capital

“We back diverse founders with unique insights to solve the world’s biggest problems.”

By: Leah Kinthaert, Contributor

Leaders In: Your LinkedIn profile describes you as this “a Venture capital investor, podcast host and a writer with particular interest in Deep technology solutions with a sustainability angle.” How did you come to have an interest in tech and sustainability, what led you here?

Arun Krishnakumar: “The sustainability angle is actually a recent calling, not something I consciously decided to do. I wasn’t a city boy,  I was born in a small village 100 km from the southern tip of India, close to the Western Ghat mountain range. That mountain range splits India into two. In the place I was born I got to see green all the time, I could see waterfalls. On the weekends we visited and swam in those waterfalls. My school was a twenty minute bus ride away, and there we could see the waterfalls from the classroom. I spent my childhood in a very green environment. Those first 10-12 years of life are your formative years, it gets ingrained in you. As they say ‘You can’t get the village out of the villager’. The rest of my life I lived in cities: Chennai, Mumbai, London.”

“I did some soul searching in 2010, 2011. I was a tech developer, and I knew what I had wasn’t what I wanted. I decided to go into in venture capital. So that clicked my ‘passion’ checkbox.

However there was still the ‘calling’ checkbox. In India we call it  Thedal or ‘search’. You know you need something, but don’t know what you’re looking for, it’s the process of searching. I’ve looked at around 2,000 startups. I never said ‘I am going to invest in sustainable ideas, or sustainability’ but I am always naturally gravitating to that. The startups that are focused on sustainability, whether it’s energy conservation, climate modeling, food conservation, plastics. I am always excited about those. There is a joke right now, ‘if you want investment, create a green PowerPoint’, but for me that’s true, I find those startups to be the best investments.”

What are some of the best disruptive ideas/companies you have come across lately and what are you excited about in investing right now?

The Green Shores Capital site lists quite a few companies, including: Check An Invoice, BibliU, paperclip, frontM, GYANA, Swipii, Yielders, Eppo Pay, Niki, Cornerstone, Goodbox, Switchee, Funding XChange, Welendus, Novastone, Verve, Global Linker and Divido. Green Shores explains who they invest in: “defensible technology businesses with exponential growth potential. We back diverse founders with unique insights to solve the world’s biggest problems.”

Arun Krishnakumar: “You can see on the site the companies we have invested in. There are a couple – which for various reasons we did not invest in – those I am also very excited about.

Neoplants –  these are tech modified plants, not in the typical GMO sense. They produce plants 4X more effectively and sustainably, using synthetic technology. I love the idea. They went to Silicon Valley and got investment there. And the most exciting company I’ve come across in a long time is Peptone. They use quantum technology to help identify drugs”. Pharmaceutical companies spend billions of dollars on drug discovery, and Peptone wants to change that; their site explains: “teaches AI machines protein physics so that they can reason with protein data just like human researchers do, and design experimentally testable hypotheses.”