Nimi Katragadda is a partner at BoxGroup where she focuses on investments in healthcare, fintech, and in marketplaces. Prior to BoxGroup she worked in Investment Banking at J.P. Morgan and later as an Associate Product Marketing Manager at Google–focused on growing small business advertisers. Nimi holds a BA from Harvard and an MBA from Harvard Business School. In 2017, Nimi was named to the Forbes 30 Under 30 list for Venture Capital.
Do you remember what you wanted to be when you grew up?
Growing up, I was really involved with the speech and debate team, mock trial, and student government. I was always fascinated with public service and government. I remember having ambitions that ranged from being a delegate in the UN to the mayor of Los Angeles. I was a pretty big dreamer growing up–I have my parents to thank for that!
Tell us a bit about how you started your career and how you landed as a Partner at BoxGroup.
I started my career like many eager college grads in investment banking at J.P. Morgan. I was in the Natural Resources group covering traditional power and energy companies. Investment banking was one of the periods of time I worked the hardest–and it taught me a lot of discipline; but I didn't have a natural passion for the job. I remember someone once giving me the advice to think about what you love reading on the weekends in your spare time, and try to find career opportunities that match. For me, that was tech. So after my two years, I explored a lot of roles - from small startups to big companies and ended up joining Google in a rotational product marketing program. I loved Google, being in the Bay Area, and getting immersed into a big tech company.
After Google, I went back to Harvard Business School for my MBA. I've always loved school and knew that I’d want to go back. In my second year, I spent time getting exposed to early stage venture–it seemed like a dream job. Through a few mutual connections, I met my now partners David Tish and Adam Rothenberg and ended up joining BoxGroup full-time.
What’s your favorite part of what you do?
I love what I do. I think being an early stage investor is a huge privilege. We get to meet founders every day who are talented, passionate, curious, and have a different vision for the world. What’s especially exciting is that in the early stage (pre-seed, seed, series A) everything is unproven. You often have to squint to see a future version of the world that looks much different than today. I think founders remember their first 'yes' and appreciate you being there for the early ride. To me, that makes early stage investing both challenging and rewarding.
Do you remember a really really good piece of advice you received?
One of my favorite quotes is “You were born with two ears and one mouth for a reason.” I think it's really important, especially as an investor, to be a great listener. That doesn't mean you don't voice your opinion, but I think we often jump to conclusions without enough active listening to get to the right judgement. It's something relevant for our personal lives as well. Everyone wants to be genuinely listened to...it’s a sign of respect.
We’re all about information. Was there a time you learned something that made you go “aha!”?
I still remember reading Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers and learning the '10,000 Hour Rule' –the idea that it takes 10,000 hours of "deliberate practice" to become world-class in any field. I really believe in that philosophy. It gets at the idea of effort over talent, and I firmly believe people who invest more focused hours will excel in their fields. It also reinforces the importance of loving what you do and being excited about putting in those 10,000 hours.
With a kickass career, how are you thinking about family down the road?
I'm engaged and getting married in October (!), so family is very top of mind. My fiance and I met at HBS, and I'm very grateful to have a supportive partner who's equally driven. We're excited to grow our family in the near future. Balancing careers and having children will be a new and different phase with its own challenges, but that's something we're really looking forward to.
How do you think fertility information can empower other women?
I'm a big believer in equipping women with as much fertility information as possible to help them make informed decisions. Family planning is one of the most important inflection points in both a woman (and a man's!) life. It's shocking to think the fertility benchmark we rely on today is a static 35 year-old cliff...it was something that resonated immediately when Afton and Carly were first pitching Modern Fertility. I hope we'll look back on this time, and think it was crazy we didn't have more personalized reference ranges - taking into account age, ethnicity, environment, longitudinal data, etc - to help guide our fertility decisions.
What have you done to lift other women up–especially in the VC world?
I try my best to lift other women in the venture and entrepreneurial world, but there's still more to do. On the VC side, it's important to me to co-invest alongside other great female investors, to share deals with them, to trade notes and push our thinking. On the founder side, I'm energized by the strong female founders we have in the BoxGroup portfolio and hope that only continues to grow. One lesson I've learned is that it's important to surround yourself with both strong female and male supporters around you.