Paying it forward, and bringing great people Together

Avinash Raghava

28 July 2021
#Culture #Leadership

I’m delighted to announce that I have joined Together Fund, a new early-stage venture fund led by two of India’s most respected founders — Girish Mathrubootham of Freshworks and Manav Garg of Eka. Also on board is Shubham Gupta, one of the most founder-friendly investors in our ecosystem.

Looking back, I realise that all the decisions I’ve made and all the work I’ve done, throughout my career, have brought me to this very juncture.

My role as a community builder is what gives me more joy than anything else. The joy of being a connector of brilliant, talented, and ambitious people, who can build each other up. The joy of paying it forward. The joy of giving.

It’s been almost two decades for me now, in this role of being a catalyst and community enabler, and this has been the underlying theme of everything I’ve attempted to do in our ecosystem.

The seed was sown for me at NASSCOM. With the inspiration sparked by Deloitte Technology Fast 50, I wanted to create a platform to spot and recognise emerging and innovative product companies in the country. With timely help from Suresh of Kissflow, Kishore of IMPELCRM, and many other founders, we created the EMERGE Community and the EMERGEOUT platform.

This was the first time I witnessed the magic of bringing the right people together.

In 2012, I joined iSPIRT. We brought in about 30 founders in the product space across a slew of programs like PNCamp, PNGrowth, SaaSX, Playbook roundtables, and many other unique groups.

Here, I learned about the true impact of niche communities — where like-minded people can help each other out and grow organically. The friendships forged then became the backbone for so many future initiatives as well.

From iSPIRT, I moved to Accel in 2017 to spearhead community initiatives — possibly the first community evangelist role in an Indian VC firm. This was new territory to me as I had to bring people in systematically, many of whom I did not know before. But gradually, I was able to build a thriving community through novel events and programs at LaunchPad, Accel’s startup space.

Amazing people met each other at LaunchPad, and it became a happening place at Koramangala in the evenings. We also brought founders for an offsite around leadership/growth, and many of them went back as friends for life.

The knowledge shared and relationships forged during these initiatives made all my efforts worthwhile!

It has been a long journey for me in this space, and I’ve only just realised that my career has always been about bringing people together, and helping them build meaningful connections that last.

All of which leads to where I am now.


Together, at Together

Together is the first and only VC fund in India that is led by founders, with the core philosophy of being ‘founder-first’.

I’ll be wearing a lot of hats in the early days, as Together is a startup too. Having said that, I would predominantly be working towards building a phenomenal Founder Investor Experience.

We want the founders who talk to us to have the best experience possible. And I believe my sweet spot is right there: to work with founders at the seed stage and support them on their journey.

While I will not be actively making investments, I will definitely be backing founders I see potential in, and will actively help them build connections and benefit through the Together Platform — The Zone. Every founder we back is empanelled on an exclusive platform — which will function as a hub to interact and partner with other founders in the community, as well as a source of peer-to-peer learning and tribal knowledge.

Once we understand the aspirations and challenges of the founders we partner with, we will also curate and find the founder or operator in the community who is best suited to help and mentor each of them. We want this relationship to be an intimate one, with deep bonds and operational mentorship rather than just cursory advice.

While we do want to deliver financial returns on our investments, that is secondary. Together’s main imperative is to ensure that we do right by the founder at all times. We operate on the belief that what is good for the founder is good for the company, and ultimately for investors.

We don’t see ourselves as having a portfolio of investments, instead, we see ourselves as a community and a platform. A collective of founders and operators.

Our dream is to build a “Product Nation” together and we hope you will consider joining us in this endeavour.


A new path, but the same journey

It’s a great privilege to work with founders you admire and respect, who share the same passion for a mission. And even better if you get to build something meaningful with them that would benefit your entire ecosystem. As a community builder, this is what has kept me going all this while, and this is what gets me up in the morning.

Throughout my journey, I’ve been working towards this singular goal — to create a better tomorrow, a more sustainable ecosystem for founders. To help them establish a strong support system and stronger relationships. To enable them to not just build great companies, but also lead healthy lives that promise an even brighter future.

As the saying goes, “We may not have it all together, but together we have it all”.

And that’s what drives me, and Together.