Featured Investors
September 1, 2021

Featured Investors | September 2021 - Nandu Anilal of Canaan Partners and Daisy Garcia of JetBlue Technology Ventures

Isaac Snitkoff
EVCA Fellow

Nandu Anilal, Analyst at Canaan Partners

Nandu Anilal is an investor at Canaan Partners, where he focuses on investments in data, AI/ML, and enterprise software more broadly. Previously, Nandu worked on the product strategy & operations team at Thumbtack and started his career as a management consultant at ZS Associates. He studied Industrial Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and grew up in the Chicago suburbs.

EVCA: How have the skills you developed in your pre-VC work played into your new role?

Nandu: I started my career as a consultant, which was a good training ground for analyzing data (read: Excel) and communications (read: email, PPT). We also used a fractional staffing model where analysts mapped to multiple projects at once, which ended up prepping me for the world of VC where you’re constantly looking at multiple companies and markets. In my second role, I got a much better look into how software-driven companies operate and the role of functions that were new to me like product design or analytics. That context is helpful when we look at companies early on and they largely are product-driven with only early investment into GTM. In that role, I also did a lot of user research and interviews, which translates well into asking productive, less biased questions during diligence.

EVCA: What is your most contrarian view on an existing or emerging technology trend?

Nandu: Perhaps not contrarian among the tech community, but I still think that mainstream consensus is that college education is generally good, but I think that will change in the next 20 years. The combination of an increasing student loan burdens and rapidly changing work environments call for a fundamentally different product than the 4-year degree. It’s encouraging to see more EdTech exits and large companies and I think that trend will continue as startups will effectively verticalize and unbundle the college experience. The branding and credentialing that colleges provide will always carry weight, but I think it’s a contract that by definition, cannot benefit everyone.

Daisy Garcia, Senior Analyst at JetBlue Technology Ventures

Daisy Garcia is a Senior Analyst at JetBlue Technology Ventures (JTV), an early-stage venture capital firm focused on startups that operate at the intersection of travel, hospitality, and technology. Prior to JTV, Daisy lived in Sweden for over two years, where she worked with an early-stage VC and angel syndicate, J-12 Ventures, while pursuing an international education. She holds dual MSCs in International Business and Management from the Stockholm School of Economics, and double BAs in Mathematics and Environmental Economics from UC Berkeley. In her pursuit to explore the maturation of the current startup ecosystem and social contours of the world, she has traveled to 73 countries and gained a global economic perspective to better understand globalization and sustainability.

EVCA: How have the skills you developed in your pre-VC work played into your new role?

Daisy: Successful innovation is the vision of expectations of generations across the globe. The MS for platform, Google for search engine, and Facebook for social media have one common thread of understanding global, generational needs. My international experiences from economically empowering female entrepreneurs through microfinance in India, to streamlining operations at an e-commerce scale-up, Jumia, in Uganda pre-IPO, to studying cyber-security through a fellowship in Israel, to crafting an entry strategy into Latin America for a steel manufacturer in Latvia - all provided me with insights on the role that geographies play in generational expectations. Today, I am sharing and implementing this global vision, while working with startup founders who are building the future of travel.

EVCA: What is your most contrarian view on an existing or emerging technology trend?

Daisy: Due to limitations in battery technology, extensive safety certifications, economic and regulatory requirements in aviation - commercial, zero emission aircraft are far from the horizon, more than two decades out. Lack of R&D funding for the technology is hurting innovators, as traditional aircraft manufacturers have shied away from investing in the R&D of advanced technologies to bring sustainable planes to fruition. While there are electric plane prototypes that have flown, the majority are all battery with no weight to carry passengers apart from a pilot. There are ongoing developments in sustainability fueled by private airlines’ efforts to reduce the industry’s carbon footprint via sustainable aviation fuels, aerodynamic designs, hydrogen cells, and graphene and lithium batteries, but there are still no viable platforms to go from prototypes to mass produced zero emission, commercial aircraft. Looking at the automobile industries path to fully electric vehicles, it is safe to conclude hybrid-electric planes will take off and land first - paving the way towards the decarbonization of the commercial aviation industry.