Semil Shah

I created Haystack in 2013. Back then, I knew I was interested in investing, but I did not know what I was doing. I tried to persuade various venture capital funds to hire me, but they did not — I did not have the right experience to earn a spot. Instead, many of the venture capitalists and founders I had gotten to know and worked with encouraged me to start my own fund and they backed me. That advice and nudging turned out to be transformative. Haystack Funds I and II were fortunate to invest at the key inflection points of outstanding companies, and since then, my interest in investing has mutated from a curiosity to natural obsession.

With a smaller footprint, Haystack is somewhat like a startup — we have to raise funds from investors (limited partners), we have to cover both the fun work (meeting new people) and the not-so-glamorous work (back office administration, paperwork, etc.), and we have to continuously deliver value to all corners of the ecosystem to remain relevant. Now with five years of investing experience in the books, there is even more to learn, more great early-stage founding teams to identify and partner with, and even more challenges in early-stage company building and value creation.

In such a dynamic environment, Haystack has opted to stay nimble – we don’t have an office, we don’t have a process, we don’t have a fancy website, we don’t push our point of view — rather, we believe smart founders know how to leverage their resources, including investors; we don’t have a services team, we don’t invest in “sectors,” and most critical — we don’t believe we know what the future may hold. Instead, we believe it is the founder who carries a special secret, and our job is to identify those with secrets and partner with them to bring those secrets to the world.