Sunil Pai is a Partner at AngelList, a unique ecosystem for startups, angel investors, and job-seekers with an innovative venture arm that is pioneering the future of VC. In addition to his day job, he spends his time identifying, funding, and supporting great entrepreneurs with a focus on pre-seed through Series A startups. Sunil provided us with a play-by-play of his typical daily routine – meetings, guilty pleasures, favorite podcasts and all.
I get up around 7:30 or 8:00 am. I’m not a morning person. I’m much more of a night owl, so I get up as late as I can. I listen to music in the morning to help me start my day. I like nineties music, which I listen to on Spotify. I just have to get the juices going and the blood flowing in the morning and music helps.
I’m a morning shower person – I always have to take one or I won’t leave the house. I always end the shower with a blast of cold water for a whole minute. It’s just the pure shock of this, I think, that wakes me up. I’m talking zero hot water, completely cold. The result is better than coffee and doing this has a lot of health benefits.
I take an Uber Pool to work; it usually takes me 20 minutes to get here, give or take. AngelList has commuter benefits, which is excellent. Once at the office, I have some coffee and kick off work at around 9:00 am.
I avoid scheduling any meetings until at least 10:00 am. This way, I’ve got my first hour to walk to Phil’s for coffee, catch up on emails, make sure there are no emergencies and check Slack. This is a key aspect of my routine because I’m part of seven different Slack groups. I have to go through each channel in the morning to ensure that I’m in the loop and I prioritize the highest priority items.
10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
My day is nearly always packed full of meetings with syndicate leads or fund managers. On average, I handle at least five meetings in a day. Some of them take place over the phone, some of them are in person, but all include talking to investors. They usually include helping them figure out how they can best navigate AngelList products, as well as offering them general support and advice around investing. Many of these investors have worked in high-grade startups or observed and interacted with a lot of investors, but for some, this is their first time navigating the investment landscape. My meetings normally last back-to-back until roughly 5:00 pm.
When I can manage it, I prefer to go on walking meetings because there are a lot of beautiful parks around here. If the meeting is more of a catch-up – meaning it doesn’t require an extensive agenda or deck – I prefer to take them while getting a walk in.
I tend to eat lunch during a meeting or call, rather than blocking out a dedicated lunch hour. We have Caviar food delivery for the office, so an order goes out on Sunday for every meal that the following week. My favorite restaurants to order from are Halal Guys and Burma Love. They’re delicious, but not super healthy, so those two places are definitely my guilty pleasures.
5:00 PM – 7:00 PM
By 5:00 pm, I usually wrap my meetings for the day. This is when I can finally sit down and do follow-ups on email, catch up on Slack, or work on internal projects that need my attention. This is ultimately my catch-up time. If I have a lot of work to tackle, then I’ll usually eat dinner at the office. There’s a good contingent of AngelList people who stay late. There’s a lot of flexibility in our schedules here – some people get in late in the morning and stay later in the day, while others prefer to get in early and leave right at 5:00 pm. I’m part of the latter crowd. This group also includes a lot of engineers.
I also do some investing on the side. If there’s an entrepreneur I find interesting or a friend who’s thinking about leaving their current gig and starting a new thing, I like to meet with them early. I can help them get off the ground in the earliest stages while they’re still contemplating their idea and planning. This might include helping them anticipate what other VCs will think, how they should consider telling their story or what they need to look for in a co-founder. I’ve been through all of those “zero to one” steps with founders many times, so I can usually be helpful in this capacity. I regularly have meetings like this over drinks or dinner, about two or three days a week.
Around 8:00 pm, I get home and spend some time catching up with my roommates and talking about our days. Later in the evening, I usually read something to help me wind down and decompress. I recently read Who Is Michael Ovitz? – it’s a memoir that tells the story of CAA, one of the world’s top talent agencies.
I’m also a big fan of podcasts. I love listening to Joe Rogan’s interviews. He’s not pretentious, he listens carefully and asks great questions. I really enjoy listening to his podcast because he has a lot of diverse guest interviewees. He’ll talk to politicians, comedians, scientists, and even MMA fighters. Regardless of the guest’s background, Joe always finds a way to learn something new and highlight extraordinary abilities.
I tend to see friends pretty often throughout the week, so on weekends, I try to space out and take time to myself. I’m an introvert and since I have so many meetings and interactions all week, sometimes I need to be at home and recharge.
I’m also now a big fan of Indian movies. I never particularly liked them growing up, and I don’t speak Hindi, I speak a language called Konkani (which is a tiny language with fewer than 8M speakers). But, I can read subtitles and I find Indian movies to be really funny and generally really entertaining. I also like cooking, but I don’t do it as a utility during the week. On weekends, I cook for fun and it’s something I really enjoy doing to relax.
10:00 or 11:00 PM
Whether it’s a weekday or weekend, around 12 pm, I usually call it a night and head to bed.
Want to learn more about how Sunil spends his days? Follow him on Twitter @sunilpai.