Meet Vivek Ramaswami. He’s a venture capitalist at Redpoint Ventures. Since 1999 they have been investing in extraordinary founders pursuing ambitious ideas. Vivek is focused on early-growth opportunities across enterprise SaaS, infrastructure and fintech. When he’s not investing, he’s a (budding) patron of the fine arts, a Crossfit enthusiast, and an avid reader. We tagged along on an average day with Vivek – learning about his schedule, podcasts, and favorite meeting-friendly lunch spots in bustling San Francisco.
On a typical day for me, I get up around 6:15 a.m. The first thing I do before I get on with my day is make my bed. It’s a habit that I have had forever, some call it OCD, but it’s a routine at this point. After I make my bed, I make myself a glass of a veggie supplement called Athletic Greens. It doesn’t taste great and even though it might just be a placebo effect, and gives me a great boost without having coffee first thing in the morning. Then, I am off to the gym!
The Crossfit studio I go to is called Flagship, and I get there for the class at 7 a.m. It is located right next to the Giant’s ballpark close to the office. A few of my coworkers are in that class, which makes it a bit easier to wake up early knowing they’ll have plenty of questions for me if I don’t show up! We wake up, sweat it out, and push each other. Its a great team both during the workout and in the office! Once I shower, I head to the office in South Park for the rest of the day. It’s a quick five-minute walk to the office, with a pitstop at Cafe Centro for scrambled eggs and coffee!
The first hour, or so, that I am at the office I block off for myself. I need that little buffer of time from 8:30-9:30 to go through emails, evaluate what my day looks like, and prioritize what I need to get done for the day. After this little bit of “me time,” I usually have a series of meetings with founders or other investors. My day is typically split into three components: meeting with founders, meeting with other venture capitalists and running through diligence on companies and sectors we are interested in.
Meeting with founders and entrepreneurs is by far the best part of the job. In venture we’re lucky to spend the bulk of our time listening to why founders are so passionate about building their businesses and learning about their vision for the future. Ultimately in any given period we will only be investing in a small fraction of the companies we meet, but I find there’s always something new to learn and great relationships to be built with every founder I talk to.
Lunch is typically with another VC or investor. Lunch is just an easy way to get to know someone and establish a relationship, which is crucial in this business. I normally go to a restaurant called Soma Eats, located on Second Street. It has great salads, and it’s fast, which is necessary for a busy day! Things are always changing with my schedule, so if I don’t have lunch with someone, I’m grabbing something quick at the office and maybe checking the news, catching up with folks on Telegram or answering emails. Sidenote – one app that is constantly open for me is Telegram which is an easy way to quickly chat with a bunch of other investors.
After lunch we generally have internal team meetings; this time is when our growth team will get together and discuss the companies we have an interest in, and what we are tracking or follow-ups. The primary purpose of these meetings is to make sure that, as a team, we are working towards the right goal. These meetings are always great for us to pick our heads up from the day to day grind and align on the larger, strategic objectives of the fund.
During this time, I will also always be in communication with the team on the early-stage side. Our office design makes this super easy because of its communal style. We all sit around a long desk which fosters a great sense of collaboration and makes it easy to grab anyone I need to talk to.
After all of my meetings, I try to set aside time to run through diligence items. One scheduling tip I’ve learned over the past four years is to try to carve out blocks of time for thought-oriented tasks like writing memos and reading analyst reports for diligence. I like to do this in the late afternoon, usually from 4:00-6:00 when the craziness of the day starts dying down. It’s also a good time to think through what I want to accomplish the rest of the week, reach out to folks and make sure I hit my top priorities for the day.
Once I leave the office for my next engagement, I try and catch up on podcasts. Right now I really like 99% Invisible, This American Life and Hardcore History. I prefer quirky storytelling and history podcasts to business/tech as a good way to stay sharp in other areas.
Given the size of the venture and tech ecosystem, there are often many evening happy hours, dinners and other events bringing together a range of VCs and founders in the industry. I have learned, though, if you say “yes” to every event, the time that you set aside for yourself and the activities you enjoy outside of work are limited. I generally try and reserve a couple nights a week for these events (typically Wednesday and Thursdays). Outside of strictly tech/VC events, I’m on the board of a local non-profit called Huckleberry, so I make sure to carve out a few hours every month to focus on that. San Francisco is also such a great city for the arts (in particular I’m a big fan of the SF Ballet and MoMa) so I try and set aside some time to keep exploring the city.
I am usually home around 9:30 p.m. Before I got to bed, I always try to fit in 30-45 minutes of reading. At the moment, I’m on an American history kick and reading Team of Rivals, about Lincoln’s rise to the Presidency. As a Canadian, there are a lot of new learnings for me! Some of my other recent book recommendations are The Stranger, and I just finished the Leonardo da Vinci biography. I really enjoy anything surrounding history. Especially, learning about Da Vinci’s quirkiness and competitive side; it’s a fun way to decompress. After getting some reading in, I am off to bed around 11:00 p.m. so that I can get ready to do it all again the next day!
Want to learn more about Vivek? Follow him on on Twitter @vivekramaswami.