In search of startups solving for life’s biggest pain points
Curious. Persistent. Pragmatic. Loyal. These are the ways friends would describe Sheena Jindal.
And these are the qualities that make her the perfect addition to the Comcast Ventures team.
It’s that curiosity that got Sheena through a rigorous education at MIT and The Tuck School of Business and led her to the Boston Consulting Group where she dove into industries ripe for change — advising clients in the financial services and retail sectors on growth strategy and transformation.
She applied her persistence and pragmatic approach to solving challenges as she worked alongside engineering teams driving technical roadmaps for Symphony Commerce clients.
She joins Partner Sam Landman in the New York office as they discover opportunities to invest in and partner with founders building modern solutions to address consumers’ biggest pain points.
Here’s more from Sheena.
What early experiences helped shape who you are today?
I grew up in Boston with two parents who started their own companies. My mom started her own architectural firm and my dad started a biotech company. As a result, I spent most of my free time after school at their offices tinkering around the lab, eavesdropping on meetings and site visits, and watching sketches morph into buildings. I got to see first hand what the startup ecosystem included and the role that VCs play from idea inception to execution and exits. I grew up craving a career that would energize, challenge, and involve working with lots of people.
I went to MIT for college, where I took my first crack at entrepreneurship by starting a fashion tech company. It was an e-commerce platform in which people could try on clothes virtually and buy online. The idea was too much, too early but it solidified my passion for using technology to build better experiences for consumers.
What brought you to Comcast Ventures and how are you hoping to work with our portfolio companies?
After a wide range of professional experiences and an internship with Bessemer Venture Partners, I joined Comcast Ventures to focus on all-things consumer.
It’s a fascinating time in our economic cycle. We’re seeing saturation in plenty of categories but also an incredible new generation of founders who know how to build and deliver what consumers really want and need — at scale. With these experiences under their belt, I’m especially excited for teams to tackle fundamental challenges — like addressing the food deserts throughout the US, fixing housing shortages which stifle economic growth and community well-being, and making health and wellness accessible to all.
I am excited to be a thought partner with our teams and leverage our experienced network to help these founders accelerate momentum and weather the unexpected. Too many startups get lost in “reactive mode” in day-to-day operational challenges and they forget the big picture. I’ve been there and want to help them think about how to accomplish their vision with pragmatic and loyal support when it’s needed most.
What is your investing philosophy?
My investing philosophy and personal interest are two-fold. First, I’m energized by the ways small changes in our ecosystem can have major ripple effects throughout huge categories in the next 5–10 years. This butterfly effect of small behavior shifts creates and widens categories, either by being a new product or by being distributed in a new way. For example, a small wave of New York consumers became obsessed with the endorphins and sense of community a $40 SoulCycle class provided. It catalyzed a movement and a $4T wellness economy.
In a few short months, I have dug into proptech, insuretech, food solutions, and consumer health. While categories are wide-reaching, the question I ask is razor-focused — “Can this team and technology solve for a pain point and ultimately enhance the way we live, work, shop, eat, sleep, or simply thrive?”
There’s tremendous low-hanging fruit that a nimble team and elegant product can solve in less-tapped categories. When I think about where our society spends time and money — it’s pretty similar across the majority of age groups and demographics. We spend our money on shelter, transportation, healthcare, and food. Consider that a third of our income is spent on housing — So, how can we better design houses, improve the transaction process, protect our homes? What innovative technology can improve how we live in it, sleep in it, and even age in it? Speaking of aging, the U.S. aging population (over 50) controls 60% of US spending power ($10T) yet less than 10% of marketing dollars are focused here, and less than 5% of VC dollars. It happens to be a personal interest of mine as I think back on my parents — my first entrepreneur role models — and how they plan to age in place.
This is how themes and connected ideas float through my mind. At Comcast Ventures, we have flexibility on sector and check size which provides wide exposure to different categories and investment opportunities. This is a huge runway to learn and an incredible chance to make a difference.
If you were an entrepreneur, what would you want from an investor partner?
Entrepreneurship can be a lonely and emotional day-to-day. It’s easy to get into your own head and not know how to process the information being thrown your way. You want an investor whose incentives are aligned with yours, but can be decisive and pragmatic in spite of the noise. You want someone who can distill a viewpoint from tons of varying tidbits of information (some fact, some emotion) and provide a practical and unemotional viewpoint. You want an empathetic investor, but you also want someone who will tell you what you need to hear (and sometimes you may not like it). You want them to understand you well enough to know the type of team you need and how to get them to rally around you. You want someone you can share the bulk of your day-to-day with, not just the rosy highlights.
When you look back ten years from now, how do you hope to reflect on your career and impact?
When I look back, I’d like to know that I helped catalyze the future wave of companies which paved how consumers interact with businesses. I want to partner with founders seeing opportunity in the most life-changing innovations and help our population feel engaged and connected with each other, while leading better lives.
I also hope I can look back and have a community who will come to know me the way my friends do — as a hard worker, strong partner, and loyal friend.
Sheena Jindal’s Entry into Venture and the Investing Philosophy Fueling Her Path was originally published in The Forecast on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.