Lessons from Surabhi (Ruby) Nimkar on Building GreenHouse Lab and Making Investment Decisions

Lessons from Surabhi (Ruby) Nimkar on Building GreenHouse Lab and Making Investment Decisions
September 1, 2021 Oreoluwa Aremo
Invest In The Future With Surabhi (Ruby) Nimkar

In the 8th episode of Invest In The Future, our Principal, Adenike Sheriff, spoke to Surabhi (Ruby) Nimkar, Principal at GreenHouse Capital, a Nigeria-based early-stage investor focused on Sub-Saharan Africa and MENA regions.

Invest In The Future is our live podcast series. We learn from prolific investors and founders who have invested in and built some of Africa and the world’s most impactful technology companies.

Listen to the entire conversation with Ruby below. 

Subscribe to Invest In the Future wherever you listen to podcasts here.

Here’s what we learnt from Ruby:

Career move from Management Consultant to Venture Capital 

1. One interesting trend we have seen chatting with our guests on Invest In The Future is that many of them ‘’stumbled’’ on Venture Capital. 

2. For Ruby, her introduction to the tech world started during her high school years in China. 

3. After university, she started her career as a management consultant working with fintech and financial services. 

4. Her interest in the emerging market powered her zeal to look further into the ecosystem and determine where she will fit in. 

5. Starting a conversation with her network around the ecosystem also played a pivotal role. 

6. As someone looking to be involved in the tech ecosystem, you need to leverage your network and networks’ networks. 

7. This type of networking does broaden your scope into the ecosystem, allowing you to build meaningful connections and relationships. 

8. Also, Networking skills are necessary to make and develop relationships with new contacts and promote value.

9. While researching and networking, Ruby was connected to someone on the continent that essentially led her to Venture Capital. 

10. According to Ruby, one of the soft skills needed to be in the VC ecosystem is to be empathetic.


Building GreenHouse Lab (a women entrepreneur acceleration program) 

1. Women are underrepresented in all African tech ecosystem parameters, especially in receiving funding and as VCs.

2. ‘’Everybody knows the statistics, right? No one needs to repeat that. We know that women are not fully represented both in the investment space and as a result in the entrepreneur space,’’ Ruby shares. 

3. At the early stages of joining GreenHouse Capital, one of the things Ruby reviewed was the portfolio companies. 

4. This review gave Ruby a deeper understanding of how gender imbalanced it was. 

5. ‘’I think the point is to address equality and representation. It’s not to say that one needs to be more than the other,’’ Ruby adds. 

6. The first edition of GreenHouse Lab was kicked off before Ruby joined the company. 

7. One of the questions asked before revamping this program was: how to make it more broadly and a core of their portfolio construction. 

8. Today, GreenHouse has about 35+ startups, and about 30% are women founders. 

9. Ruby also adds that they are ‘’so focused on getting to a 50:50 portfolio’’. 

10. Essentially, the program is about finding more women who want to build technology startups, and it has accelerated about 75 women. 


Making Investment Decisions 

1. One of the downsides of making investment decisions for Ruby is being emotionally invested in a company, but the deal doesn’t follow through.

2. However, she has come to accept that the job shouldn’t be seen as a limitation. 

3. Another challenge faced, sometimes, ‘’not heard as much as maybe some of my male counterparts.’’ Ruby shares. 

4. ‘’And that is just partly part of the sort of more patriarchal culture.  Not that it is necessarily justified, but I think being able to overcome that and say actually in order for us to have a productive conversation, there are some conversations that I am more than happy to take and some conversations that some of my colleges are better positioned to take, in order for us to move forward,’’ Ruby adds. 

5. Ruby isn’t shying away from having these types of conversations while making investment decisions. 

6. One exciting startup trend for Ruby is ‘’finding ways that connect the continent.’’

7. This comes in multiple forms in the logistic space (cross-border trade), payments and remittances and SME space. 

Listen to the entire conversation with Ruby below. 

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