04: 3x tech founder turned seed VC brings a founder mindset to startup investing - Amit Kumar, Accel

Amit Kumar, former founder and angel investor, is a generalist venture capitalist at Accel focused on dev tools, healthcare, and fintech startups. Twitter acquired Amit’s third company, and it was then that he realized his true purpose was supporting startup founders, and he shifted to venture capital. Amit shares insightful stories and lessons learned from 8 years of early-stage investing out of a large, top-tier VC fund.

Amit writes checks of $2M to $4M as the lead and first institutional seed investor. 

Highlights from our discussion:
  • How Amit frames venture capital as a long game
  • Why Amit considers himself a “co-founder as a service,” and how that serves his startup community
  • The right way to think about deal setup for successful early-stage investing
  • Why the problem slide in your pitch deck is most important
This is for information purposes only. This is not investment advice.


  • (00:00) - 04: Amit Kumar - Accel
  • (00:16) - A startup idea seed investors will definitely say NO to (but maybe Shark Tank will take it)
  • (03:35) - Amit Kumar - seed investor and First Funder at Accel
  • (05:17) - Amit's Transition to Accel and the Power of Networking
  • (07:38) - How Amit learned about angel investing - friends, conferences, and meetups
  • (08:47) - What does it look like when a VC firm recruits you as a potential founder? Potential partner?
  • (12:14) - Angel investing as risk diversification and knowledge sharing, especially for existing startup founders
  • (13:56) - Venture capitalists can provide "co-founders as a service"
  • (17:21) - How Amit chose between being a founder again and investing full-time
  • (20:06) - Amit's first investment, and how past founder relationships build trust
  • (22:23) - Startups that don't go public in 7 years - does that hurt your model and LP relationships?
  • (24:11) - Conviction, not consensus - but what builds trust among GPs when startup investing?
  • (26:30) - Startup valuations: Amit's venture capital POV and moving targets in 2024
  • (28:37) - How does a large early-stage VC think about follow-on investments and the number of startups to fund?
  • (31:57) - Taking bigger risks earlier
  • (34:49) - How startup investors consider incumbents in a space when assessing competition and exits
  • (36:24) - Headway, and what Amit has learned about identifying good startup investments in new markets
  • (42:05) - How to think about thesis investing, conflicts of interest, and competing startups
  • (45:14) - How Amit thinks about return profiles and seed investing today
  • (48:08) - What founder and market signals does a venture capitalist look for?
  • (50:39) - How to get on the Midas List - it's the fundamentals
  • (51:47) - A movie you must see to understand venture capital and startup investing matters
  • (54:15) - Takeaways from Amit Kumar's First Funder approach
  • (01:01:18) - Outro

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Creators and Guests

Aamir Virani
Aamir Virani
Helped 50+ orgs grow product and scale teams.Software Engineer ➡️ Product Manager ➡️ Founder (Nest Cam fka Dropcam) 🔀 Investor, CRE, Founder@pifgov 2021
Shaherose Charania
Shaherose Charania
Venture Investing at @CakeVentures and @joindvc | Always helping founders | Raised on Atari, MS-DOS, Bollywood & Hip Hop. 🇨🇦in 🇺🇸
Amit Kumar
Amit Kumar
Investing in the future @accel and @ucberkeley; Sometimes magic is just spending more time on something than anyone else might reasonably expect
04: 3x tech founder turned seed VC brings a founder mindset to startup investing - Amit Kumar, Accel
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