Welcome to our new Meet the Team series where we will feature a member from our Team each week to give you a behind the scenes look at the people that make it all happen at NGP Capital.
Feature of the week
Upal Basu – Partner, Intelligent Enterprise Team
Upal joined NGP Capital back in 2008, shortly after its inception. He works closely with Kevin Lu leading our global Connected Enterprise investment theme focusing on mobile enterprise and Internet of Things investments. His portfolio companies include Zinier, Observe.ai and Security Scorecard. He also invested in Kaltura, which just IPOd! Read on to find out more about how Upal got his start as an entrepreneur, what he likes to do in his free time and what company he would found today.
What was your first job in the tech or VC world?
I joined RMS (Risk Management Solutions) as a Product Manager in 1993. RMS was one of the first insurance technology companies. I was responsible for the development and success of all their mapping products, used by underwriters and analysts to visualize risks around the world.
What first got you excited about the tech industry?
When I was a college student, I was introduced to Apple Macintosh, and I fell in love with this amazing device that was so easy to set up and use and these things called fonts. Through Apple Macintosh, I got introduced to Spreadsheets and Word Processing. However, I got hooked when I have experienced the internet and Yahoo! in 1995. I was one of the first email users to get an account on Yahoo!
If you got $1B of funding for your own start-up, what kind of company would you start from scratch today?
There is too much inequality in our world, and unfortunately, the path to our futures is laid out in our childhoods which we do not often control. Education is the key to move beyond low-wage labor to enriching work. I was fortunate to have parents who made tremendous personal and financial sacrifices for educating my two siblings and me. I believe education needs to be rethought and redesigned to the unique needs and curiosity of each child.
I would start a K-12 company that takes the best aspects of Khan Academy and ClassBa, to create an intelligent tutor for every child. The basic edition would be free to everyone. Additional capabilities online, including access to a live tutor, would be charged for. Everyone would be able to learn at their own pace, at their abilities.
What do you like to do in your free time that does not involve a screen?
I am an avid reader and read a significant number of books, and listen to audiobooks and podcasts. I also enjoy walking an hour every day and experiencing nature and city life. Finally, I love to when time permits cooking, especially if I have all the ingredients!
Diversity and Inclusion is hot topic now. What improvements do you think the industry could make overall?
I believe D&I is an important topic, and our technology industry should represent the diversity of our society. However, the problem is often not the intent but finding qualified people. We need to build a deeper pipeline of diverse populations in STEM at the school level, encourage more people to go into technology careers, and support them for leadership roles and strong mentors. We also need to create job flexibility for women to take time off and work from home as needed. COVID demonstrated that quality work does not always need to be done at office.