Siya Raj Purohit: Creating New Pathways for Venture Capital to Grow
Hi folks! I’m Spiffy, your interplanetary journalist reporting from Planet Earth, back with a new guest, Siya Raj Purohit. Siya is the co-founder and General Partner at Pathway Ventures and is committed to making a difference in the world. Let’s see how she’s doing it!
Spiffy: Welcome Siya, it’s so great to talk to you today. Tell me, what challenges are you addressing?
Siya: Thanks for having me, Spiffy. My co-founder, Taylor Stockton, and I are building Pathway Ventures, an early-stage venture capital fund focused on the “Human Side of the Future of Work”. We are investing in founders that are driving economic mobility through innovative new models of earning, learning, and community building.
Spiffy: Wow, what motivated you to jump right into investing in founders?
Siya: I discovered my passion for helping people learn employable skills through my own difficulties in college. As an undergraduate, I struggled with the one-size-fits-all education model of engineering school. To get advice, I cold-emailed five national figures including a Nobel Laureate and a Supreme Court attorney. They told me that engineering was the surest way to break into a new socioeconomic class, but it wasn’t taught in a way that was accessible to everyone. They lamented how the delivery of engineering education leads to a high national attrition rate, turning people away who would otherwise have become great engineers.
Spiffy: That’s really interesting. It sounds like this might have been an inspiration to do more. How are you and Pathway Ventures working to make the world more equitable?
Siya: It did. I turned this research into a book about America’s jobs-skills gap, narrating to other young people the value of engineering education while calling on educators to change their approach to instruction. In the years since, I have worked with startups, venture capital firms, and the government to help people learn skills that help them advance their economic status. With Pathway, I am excited to help back the next generation of founders who are building solutions for this space.
Siya Raj Purohit's book, Engineering America: Teaching a Penguin How to Fly, was published in 2012. (Image courtesy of Siya Raj Purohit)
Spiffy: That’s amazing, Siya! What about a recent milestone, do you have anything interesting you can share?
Siya: We're starting to make our first investments now! It's so exciting to meet so many talented founders and help support them in building their companies. My team has also been researching — and speaking about — how venture capitalism is changing, and we recently published a piece about the rise of the operator-investor model. As the industry changes, it's going to open up opportunities for more diverse investors and enable the entire ecosystem to grow.
Spiffy: I can’t wait to see it transform. Thanks so much for taking the time to share your experience with me, Siya. It’s been an honor.
Siya Raj Purohit is the co-founder & General Partner at Pathway Ventures. She was previously an early employee at Udacity and Springboard. Siya is the author of Engineering America, a book on the country's job-skills gap that she published during college. She is an alum of the University of Texas at Austin and Harvard University.