Nandeet Mehta has been called a competitor by Forbes, and “The Youngest Venture Capitalist” by Huffington Post for starting his career in Venture Capital at the young age of 18. Nandeet has experience in the VC world being a Partner & Co-Founder of Prototype Capital. He was previously at Anthos Capital, Space Angels Network, and Science Inc. He graduated UCLA as an Edison Scholar and History student in 2017. During his time as a student, he had his first successful exit with Third Eye Technologies, acquired by TheBlindGuide, and co-created and co-lectured the “Self-Innovations Lab: Converting Academic Expertise to Industry Expertise” accredited class at UCLA. He was named to the University of California Office of the President 2016 “30 Under 30” for his work in Agricultural Innovation with Pyur Solutions. Nandeet was also awarded as a Kairos Society Fellow for Pyur Solutions and is the most recent addition as an Executive to Kairos Society and on the board of Wanderset. His experience also includes a myriad of internships at Fortune 500 companies and startups including Lyft, T-mobile, Ubisoft, Dell and Samsung. Mehta strives to express his passions through speaking at conferences, university events, moderating panels, and writing as a contributor to TechCrunch and Huffington Post.
How did you get to where you are today?
I was raised to see the rewards of self-belief. It was a combination of parenting and where I came from. To give a brief background, I grew up in a small town that ranked as one of the most dangerous towns in America. (Hemet ca) It wasn't always that way but as the recession hit in 2007 I watched the town deteriorate. Growing up I faced a stark reality that things weren't as jolly as the tvs portray America or childhood. We went from a small quiet farming town to a place where you had to look around at night and worry about how to defend yourself from becoming a come-up. The fortunate part was that it gave me the foresight to see that there's more gold in the mind than you can mine in the earth. Well, that combined with my family hammering the concept in. Thus for as long as I can remember I hustled in anything I put my hands on regardless of what it was sports, academics, extra curriculars, music, you name it. I learned you have to make yourself a commodity early on. Hell, I was selling pencils in middle school on exam days to generate some cash flow. fortunately it taught me early on that I knew I wanted to get into business when I grew up. But growing up on a small farming town, there was a lack of industry, and there were not much business beyond mom and pop shops. On top of that, we weren't located near any major freeway. Literally in the middle of nowhere. I remember getting excited over the news of "maybe" getting a Olive Garden in our town. We ever did. So I never saw first-hand anyone being defined as successful unless they were a doctor, lawyer, or engineer. Meaning I geared my path towards medicine. I ended up leaving my town for university in Pennsylvania at Villanova for their direct medical program with Drexel Medical School. Within my first year there I realized I didn't want to go into medicine and I wanted to pursue business further but not knowing how or where to begin I ended up at UCLA.
Fast-forward past some full-time gigs in Venture Capital and some internships with fortune 500 companies during my time at school, I founded Pyur Solutions, a startup with the world's first complete line of non-toxic, biodegradable, plant-based pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides. During my past few years I've been fortunate to receive advice and mentorship from world leaders, f500 executives, game-changing Vc's and one thing that stuck out was the consistent advice to take advantage of opportunities at a young age and never shy away from building a wide set of skills and diverse expertise. The advice centered around a common theme: be the neo-polymath. A polymath is a person whose expertise spans a significant number of different subject areas; such a person is known to draw on complex bodies of knowledge to solve specific problems. A modern day Leonardo DA' Vinci of sorts. His life had him bouncing between painting the Mona Lisa, designing military contraptions and vehicles, and conceptualizing flying machines. As my mentor Kiel berry said "The common denominator is the multi-hyphenate nature of the individual and their ability to facilitate collaboration. They are able to drive the innovation at the eye of the storm, or the center of the Venn diagram." Now I am graduating UCLA with a History degree, worked as a Venture Capitalist at a young age, and now running my own startup. So you can definitely say that it's been a journey where I took their advice hustled, schemed, and built to grow and get to where I am today.
All-in-all, I sum it up to a lot of hustling and building relationships and a goal. (side note: give before you ask with any mentor). I would attend tech/VC/entrepreneurial events around the city, offer free labor to intern or work with any firm or individual where I felt I could learn. At one point I was taking a full load at UCLA, classes at another university (even though they wouldn't transfer to my major at UCLA), working in multiple internships, and working full time in venture capital as an associate at an SF-based firm in their LA offices. All in all to garner incredibly valuable insight and connections and relations that weren't available on campus or through my family and friends. While Pyur Solutions is still going through the building blocks process of development, we are now at a point where we have near commercialization. We are running pilots with some f500 companies and then are commercializing it, which I'm stoked for. Leading up to that point, it was definitely a lot of late nights and early mornings, especially as a student juggling other internships, jobs, and studies along the way.
What was your toughest obstacle and how did you overcome it?
One of the toughest points was getting people to see the vision. At UCLA, Pyur Solutions is, unfortunately, ineligible for the accelerator and quite a bit of entrepreneurial programs because it lacks a tech component. I think in today's day and age a lot of people are focusing on the shining lights and glamor of Silicon Valley tech, and here I am trying to make pesticides sexy (hint: they are). But, it's all about grit and believing in your own vision is the first step to making others see the dream also.
What’s the key to staying focused & motivated?
First and foremost, what works for someone else may not necessarily work for you. With that in mind, I keep the notion that nothing worthwhile comes easy at heart. Keep patience for your entrance, in today's digital age is easy to get ahead of yourself in the hype. Keep your confidence and inspiration through your own potential though. Celebrate patience, celebrate the downs soon you'll climb and reach elevation. One of my favorite quotes that sums it up "stay too busy eating your own fruit to see if theirs is sweeter, stay too busy watering your grass to check if theirs is greener."
What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?
My dad used to tell me all of the time this: "If your teacher loses your homework assignment that you turned in late and now gives you a 0 in the gradebook, whose fault is that 0%? Sure, it may be him/her that lost it, but it's your fault that you got the grade you did because you could have made a copy, turned it in early, emailed it--the possibilities of “could haves” are endless. But if the end situation is that you are the one with the consequences, make the consequences in your favor by thinking 10 steps ahead to avoid any missteps by you or anyone else.
How do we get more women leaders?
I know there is no formula for this issue we face today. We definitely are making strides but I believe the problem lies in the way society thinks. As a population, I think we, both males and females need to propel forward the thought process that "it doesn't matter whether someone is female or male, let the metrics and track records speak for themselves." If we stop looking at the exterior cover and more at results that people put forward I believe we can make even larger strides.