Amit Garg
IMPACT INVESTING

Amit Garg

#44

Listen on

Apple Podcast
Spotify

Managing Partner (Cofounder) at Tau Ventures

Amit Garg – Quality vs Quantity Networks

“Your network should be a fine balance between quantity and quality.”

ABOUT

Amit Garg is currently Cofounder and Managing Partner at Tau Ventures, a seed fund in Palo Alto focused on applied AI in digital health, automation (cars, drones, robots), and enterprise. Their 15 current investments include ArmorCode (application security), Biotia (analyze pathogen genomes to prevent hospital contamination), Blendid (robotic arm for making food), Cerby (cybersecurity to harness shadow IT), Elemental Machines (IoT to improve production of foods+drugs), FidoCure (treat cancer in dogs), Freedom Robotics (cloud platform for robotics), Infinitus (helping patients navigate healthcare), Iterative Scopes (computer vision for colon cancer), RapidDeploy (unified public safety), RubiconMD (referral service for primary care physicians), Signos (weight loss through glucose monitoring), Totient (cancer drug discovery), and two investments in stealth.

Amit has been in Silicon Valley for 20 years — at Samsung NEXT Ventures where he seed-funded nuTonomy (self-driving cars, sold for $450M), cofounded a startup called HealthIQ (as of May 2019 a series D that has raised $120M and valued at $450M), at Norwest Ventures ($10B AUM), and doing product and analytics at Google. His academic training is BS in Computer Science and MS in Biomedical Informatics, both from Stanford, and MBA from Harvard. He speaks natively 3 languages, live carbon-neutral, a 70.3 Ironman finisher, and have built a hospital in rural India serving 100,000 people.

REQUEST INTRODUCTION Arrow

THE FULL INTERVIEW

Amit Garg

The full #OPNAskAnAngel talk

Jeffery:
So welcome, everybody. Thank you very much for joining us. We are at OPN’s Ask An Angel and we’re very excited today to be chatting with Amit because one, he’s up in the big smoke or just beyond the big smoke, I guess, if you will. But in the US and in San Fran, and we love talking to people out in San Fran because you guys have a whole different ecosystem on how the world works. When it comes to big tech and Toronto, we kind of like love what they’re doing out there, and we try to like, near as much as we can in the rest of the world and keep building up our ecosystem. But we love to see what the action is out in the San Fran and even New York model is really moving as well, right? It’s kind of the next second best epicenter of the United States. And then following on with Chicago and, even Texas and all these other great states, so a lot of exciting movement. But Amit, thank you very much for joining us today. And I think the way we want to start is if you could give us a little bit of a background on yourself, kind of where you’ve come from, what you’ve been up to and then what you’re doing today, and then just one thing about yourself that nobody would know.

Amit:
So thank you, JP, thank you very much for having me. And, I think, Toronto. Yes, it is not as big of an ecosystem Silicon Valley, but you guys have a pretty awesome ecosystem there. I’ve invested in Toronto. I’ve been there a few times. I think you are very collaborative and very supportive and are cooking up great companies, Shopify being one example. But there’s many others. So about myself, I have 20 years in Silicon Valley. Well, that’s not quite correct. Two of those were in Boston, which is another great ecosystem, but the rest has been here in Silicon Valley. I’ve worked at three different VC funds, this being the third one, which is my own fund, which I started called Tau Ventures. But I started my career at Google as a product manager. I did go to school here. I did my undergraduate and master’s degree at Stanford in computer science and bio for undergrad. And then biomedical Informatics, which is at the intersection of those two for my Masters. At some point, I did go to business school, don’t hold that against me, in Boston and the three funds that I’ve worked for included one, that’s a very large fund, Norves Ventures, $10 billion dollars under management. I’ve worked for fund 11. I joined there almost a decade ago. The other one I worked for Samsung Next Ventures, which is $150 million dollar fund. Early stage and in between, I was a co-founder of Health. IQ, which is a company helping you make better decisions around diet and fitness. That company has gone on to raise now 140 million in venture capital and is doing well, 450 million latest valuation. This is all public, by the way. But what I’m most excited about is what I’m doing today, which is Tau Ventures. I started this fund with the next colleague of mine from Norwest and it is just about a year and a half old. We have done 14 investments. There’s a couple more that we are closing right now, as I speak. So maybe by the end of the year we’ll have 16, 17. And, we focused on applying AI, artificial intelligence, focus on three verticals: additional health, enterprise, and automation. In digital health, we have investments, including computer vision to detect colon cancer. It’s called iterative scopes. We have machine learning to detect sequences, biomarkers that you can then develop antibodies against COVID and cancer, that’s a company called Potiont. We have a company that looks at drugs and dogs and figures out what type of drug, works best for what kind of cancer and dogs, called Phytocure, and etcetera. And in enterprise, we have a couple of companies focused on cybersecurity, protecting your personal information in social media. And then in automation, we have a robot to make smoothies, robots peel potatoes, chop your vegetables. So anyways, we’ll be glad to share more about Tau but to finalize your question, something people wouldn’t know about me at least right away. I’m born and raised in Brazil. It’s not obvious from the name, from the face, and from the accent. My family is from India. I subscribe to all three countries. I have citizenships from all three. For India, it’s an overseas citizen. And, yeah, I feel like a global citizen, but those three are my triangle, the core triangle I operated.

Jeffery:
Oh, that’s amazing! And great background, great story, love what you guys are doing a lot of great things. With the investment side you’ve made, I love the name of the company. Do you want to give us a little bit of a breakdown on how you came up with a Tau? And what was the reason that you chose to go with Tau versus any other kind of…?

Amit:
Well, thank you. That tells me that your fellow geek, JP, so Tau is a Greek letter. It means many things in mathematics, in physics, in biology. I did part of my undergraduate research, analyzing protein models, and how they misfold, and can cause Alzheimer’s, and Tau proteins are implicated in that. But our closest inspiration was the mathematical constant, Tau equals two times pi, so 3.14 times two is 6.28. So we went to the full extent of what that entails us. We launched the fund on June 28th of 2019. That’s when we did have our annual events. Because here in the US we write month and then we write date. This year we organized the event on three quarters of a Tau, in October. So you get the point. And Tau is small, it’s memorable, it pays homage to the teams we invest in, and the domain name was available Tau Venture. So we thought it was a fitting name for the fund.

Jeffery:
I love it. And I do like the, two times pi and the whole structure behind it, and even the background on the different formats of how Tau’s used. Different spelling but t-a-o, which is tao drumming, which is Japanese structured of drumming. If you’ve never seen it, you should check it out because it’s probably one of the sickest things I’ve ever got to watch live. I-

Amit: