This CA gave up his Big 4 promotion to join a VC firm with fund size $310 Million. Here is how he did it.

Aman Soni, Senior analyst at 3One4 Capital

  • Most of the founders focus more on their product that they forget about the finances and operations.  
  • Soon the founders realise that had they been financially prudent, they could have achieved much more early on. 
  • Aman Soni is a chartered accountant (CA) who refused his promotion at Deloitte to follow his passion to join the VC space. 
  • He joined 3one4 Capital that has funded companies like Licious and Darwinbox among others.

 

The foundation for a better future: Chartered Accountancy

When I was growing up, I saw how hard both of my parents had to work to take care of me and my two siblings. 

My father used to work as a finance manager, so from the beginning, I got acquainted with all of the financial strategies that he used to communicate to his clients. 

That’s how early the seeds were sown. 

Then when I got into 10th standard, I met a bunch of ambitious friends who were either preparing for their JEE (Engineering entrance exams) or CA. 

I had some of my relatives as well, who had done CA. The respect they commanded in society, was one of the aspects that mainly attracted me to accountancy.

By God's grace I got good grades in my 12th grade and then entered Narsee Monjee College of Commerce and Economics. I believe Narsee Monjee played a very important role in shaping me into who I am today.   

Unfortunately, I couldn’t clear my IPCC on the first attempt. So instead of sulking, I restructured my entire studying approach. And with my mother’s unconditional emotional support I cleared IPCC. 

I joined a great CA firm, KNAV for my articleship where I had lovely colleagues who mentally supported me throughout some rough situations.

Finally, in 2019 I cleared my CA.

Startup founders must focus on their finances and operations

Refusing a promotion at Big 4 for the VC space 

In the first year of my articleship, I figured out that audit and tax were not my cups of tea. 

During those 3 years, I came across a lot of articles on start-ups. The startup initiative was also happening in India at that time.

I used to look at the VC ecosystem as well. The ability for someone to take a bet on people, take a bet on good ideas, and then actually help them to grow attracted me a lot.

I told myself - “After clearing my CA, I am entering the VC space.” 

As planned, I started reaching out to a lot of VCs but the problem was, that without experience or any sort of connections, it's really difficult to get into this space

So at that particular moment, the next best option for me was to join Deloitte as an assistant manager.

It was not a bad idea though, as my role there allowed me to deep dive into different sectors, and different business plans.

Plus, I got to add a brand name to my resume, in addition to developing extra skill sets. 

I spent one and a half years in Deloitte, but if I wanted a career in the VC space I needed to move out soon enough.  

Thankfully I got an interview with 3one4 Capital someday in December 2021.  

Funnily enough that exact same day I received this email from Deloitte saying that “You have been promoted to deputy manager.”

That was quite a conundrum. 

What would you choose, “A big promotion at a Big 4, or leave your comfort zone to jump to a new space that you had been wishing to enter for a long time?”

Of course, joining 3one4 Capital meant I would have to move from Mumbai to Bangalore, leaving behind my parents and friends. 

But there was just one gut feeling that told me “If you really want to grow, if you really want to become the person that you envisioned yourself to become, then this is the opportunity.”

And that is how 3one4 Capital happened for me.

Big question – How did I get into 3one4 Capital? 

3one4 Capital is an early-stage venture capital (VC) firm based in Bangalore, India. The fund largely focuses on areas like enterprise automation, SaaS, machine-driven actionable intelligence services for the enterprise among others. It has a fund size of $310 Million. 

The first step that I took to join 3one4 Capital was messaging Pranav Pai straight up on LinkedIn.

I told him about sending my resume to him, and how much I wanted this opportunity.

Sometimes it’s really that simple, you just have to reach out and make things happen for you. 

It worked and he connected me to Richard Pinto, a member of the Finance and Portfolio Management team there, and he took my interview.

The interview process was quite unique, I must say.

They straightaway asked me “Will you be able to do something that we do on a daily basis?”

Afterward, they sent me a case study, which I had 34 days to solve. It was a business plan of which we had to do the diligence. 

My task was to determine ‘What are the risks involved in that business’, ‘Their costing strategy, and pricing strategy’ etc. At the same time, they also gave me a side assignment, where I had to do research on co-lending and FLDG. I had only three days to prepare. But I somehow did it.

And after two-three days they gave me a call saying “We found you to be a good fit for 3one4.” The rest is history. 

When I met Siddarth and Pranav (Founding partners) they told me right off the bat “Look, it's a performance-driven firm and that's what we care about. You could really learn a lot if you deliver as you promised.” 

Those words really gave me a boost in my confidence. 

Also Read

Chartered Accountant turned Partner at a early-stage VC firm answers questions about startups, angel investing and fund raising

My Role beyond the due diligence process in a VC firm 

My role in the portfolio management and finance team starts from the time a term sheet is issued to a particular company.

We have a due diligence team that looks after sourcing the businesses. Once a business is sourced by them, they come to us. 

Then we conduct due diligence on them, whether it's commercial, legal, or financial. After reviewing all of it, we have to confirm that this idea or proposition makes financial sense.

Finally, we onboard them into our portfolio. And once they are on board, they get allocated to one of the team members. 

We currently have 72 active startups in our portfolio. All of that is allocated to our team members for analysis, from the source of the data that the company gives us.

If it's an early-stage company, we help them set up their finances, operations, valuation, product, and pricing strategy. 

We monitor their finance. We also do treasury and debt financing for them. 

If a company wants to build a DCF or any kind of financial model we also support them. This is how portfolio management works, on a broad level.

Advice to founders 

I have noticed that most founders focus more on their product that they forget about the finances and operations.  

But they soon realize that had they been financially prudent, had they been operationally efficient they would have achieved much more early on. 

I saw an article about Zoom’s Pre-IPO. And if you look at the numbers before their IPO, you would see that whatever they earned is the exact amount that they were burning. They were not spending more money. 

That is the kind of strategy which is foolproof, and founders need to know that.

Yes, you need to focus on your growth, but you also need to ensure that you are sustainable. At the end of the day, you want your runways to be long right?   

That is why one of the reasons why founders actually go to venture capitalists is not just for the money but the value they can offer them.  

Video by Ritvik Sachdeva

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