The FORT Podcast: Apurva Mehta – Managing Partner of Summit Peak Investments – Deep Dive Into Current Venture Capital Landscape

Apurva Mehta is the Managing Partner of Summit Peak Investments.  Apurva graduated with a B.B.A in Finance from The George Washington University. From 2001 to 2004, he was a Senior Investment Analyst for Citi Institutional Consulting in Washington D.C, where he focused on asset allocation and manager due diligence for endowments, foundation, and pension funds.

From there, Mehta went on to become a VP at Lehman Brothers in the Investment Banking and Investment Management Divisions, focusing on Global Business Planning and Strategy until 2008. For the next three years, Mehta was the Director of Portfolio Investments at the Juilliard School in New York City. For the next eight years, he was the Deputy Chief Investment Officer at Cook’s Children’s Health Care System in Fort Worth, Texas, where he oversaw the management of the portfolio across all asset classes, including strategic and tactical asset allocation, investment manager selection, manager performance evaluation, and operational oversight. Additionally, he led the buildout of the Private Investment portfolio and spearheaded the Venture Capital program.

Moreover, in 2012 and 2013 Mehta was named one of the “Top Forty Under Forty” by CIO Magazine and recognized as “Fresh Talent at the World’s Largest Asset Owners”. He was also named a “Rising Star” of Foundations and Endowments and a “Rising Star” of Hedge Funds by Institutional Investor in 2013. Currently, alongside being a  managing partner at Summit Peak, Mehta is also on the board for Interstride.

In this episode, Chris and Apurva discuss venture capital’s current market environment and analyze Summit Peak’s strategy for investing in Pre-See, Seed, and Series A Managers. They also discuss what will matter for startup’s going forward and how valuations will be set, Paypal Mafia stories, and more. Enjoy!

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(2:32) – What was your experience working at Lehman Brothers in 2008?

(6:06) – Apurva’s career and founding Summit Peak Investments

(7:40) – How have you chosen to approach Venture?

(16:04) –  What qualities do you look for in early-stage investors?

(24:07) – What’s happening in the market & VC in your opinion?

(39:55) – How often do companies need to renegotiate capital agreements when markets become volatile?

(44:54) – Do you predict investors will only look for the most logically profitable businesses going forward?

(49:39) – What’s happening in the world of Series-A, Seed, and Pre-Seed investing?

(55:25) – What factors would determine a phenomenal seed company in this market? 

(58:33) – Thoughts on the PayPal Mafia

(1:03:12) – What is your mindset heading into the next 5 years?


Episode Summary

Apurva Mehta, esteemed for his profound knowledge in investment and business strategy, graced Chris Powers’ enlightening podcast, diving deep into the intricate dynamics of the U.S. entrepreneurial and investment landscape. A seasoned professional, Mehta’s expertise is accentuated by his rich career trajectory, which spans investment consulting at Citigroup, a pivotal role in investment banking, and a significant tenure at the Juilliard School in New York as their head of investments.

Central to the discourse was the interconnectedness of the PayPal mafia, an influential cohort in the entrepreneurial realm, and the invaluable access to top-tier entrepreneurs from revered institutions like Stanford and Harvard. Mehta underscored the significance of deal flow in the U.S., emphasizing its stature as a predominant hub of global deal flow. Such access, he suggests, isn’t merely a privilege of association but a testament to the strength and quality of relationships fostered in the business arena.

Venturing into the venture capital domain, the dialogue meticulously dissected the criteria for evaluating seed companies. Here, Mehta elucidated the nuances of investment decision-making, emphasizing the primacy of a founder’s track record over mere business growth metrics. Drawing from tangible examples, he highlighted the pitfalls of aggressive spending, even in ventures backed by renowned investors. Such insights serve as cautionary tales for both budding and established entrepreneurs, offering a panoramic view of the highs and lows of the business world.

Another focal point of the conversation was the ever-evolving market dynamics and their implications on investment vintages. While the allure of acquisitions might seem tempting, Mehta and Powers stressed the importance of understanding the broader market context. They postulated that the attractiveness of investment opportunities, like the 2022 vintage, is often shaped by prevailing market conditions, which, in turn, influence investment strategies and outcomes.

In wrapping up the discussion, the podcast served as a reminder of the informational nature of its content, especially in the context of real estate. Such disclaimers, while seemingly mundane, reiterate the commitment of Powers and his esteemed guests, like Mehta, to offer insights without overstepping the boundaries of professional ethics and integrity.

In conclusion, this episode with Apurva Mehta was nothing short of a treasure trove of industry insights, offering listeners a deep dive into the complex waters of entrepreneurship and investment. For anyone keen on understanding the subtleties of the U.S. business ecosystem, this podcast stands as an indispensable resource. With Mehta’s expert reflections illuminating the path, listeners are equipped with the knowledge to navigate the intricate balance between risk and reward in the business sector.

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