How Urvashi Barooah Succeeded in Venture Capital Despite Doubts


When Urvashi Barooah applied to MBA programs in 2015, her applications were driven by her ambition to become a venture capitalist. Despite facing rejections from all the schools and being told her goals in the venture industry were unrealistic, she was undeterred.

Now, nine years later, Barooah, 33, is being promoted to partner at Redpoint. She joined the firm as an associate four years ago and has been serving as a principal since late 2021. Silicon Valley-based Redpoint is currently investing from its $650 million ninth fund. Barooah is now among the firm’s three partners focused on early stage ventures.

Barooah mentioned to Truth Voices that those business schools were not entirely wrong in labeling her goals as unrealistic. Breaking into the relatively exclusive industry without a network or contacts in Silicon Valley was challenging, but she’s grateful she didn’t heed their advice.

“I wasn’t deterred, but it did feel kind of impossible at one point,” Barooah admitted. “I was so removed from it. I didn’t know the reality on the ground. I just knew what people wrote about in the papers.”

Barooah’s journey began far from Silicon Valley in Guwahati, a small Indian city located between Bhutan and Bangladesh. Both her parents were entrepreneurs; her father managed a chemical business, while her mother designed and sold furniture.

“My parents always asked me, ‘what kind of business do you want to start?’ That was what the most successful people in India did,” she said. “They always encouraged me to forge my own path and start my own company. I thought about that for a long time, but there was nothing that excited me. Without a passionate idea, the next best thing I could do was work with founders.”

In 2017, Barooah reapplied to U.S. business schools after working as a consultant and succeeded. She was admitted to Wharton, where she focused her classes and extracurriculars on learning everything about the venture industry. She engaged with entrepreneurs, developed an investment thesis, and cold-called VCs to pitch it.

After around 50 cold calls, she secured an internship at New York-based Primary Venture Partners in 2019. Not long after, she obtained another internship at Redpoint, which turned into a full-time role, and she has remained there since.

Though growing up with entrepreneur parents didn’t introduce Barooah to venture capital, it has made her a better VC, she believes. Observing their daily triumphs and failures taught her the challenges of running a business and how to persevere when things go wrong.

“They always fought against the odds and did what was necessary to keep their business going,” Barooah said. “They taught me that you have to keep moving forward despite all odds and that it was supposed to be hard. If one of my companies experiences a setback, I know it’s just part of the course and something that can be overcome.”

Barooah’s portfolio includes Dune Analytics, an Ethereum-focused platform for making on-chain data accessible; Offchain Labs, a startup aiding companies in scaling with Ethereum; and The Rounds, a delivery service with a sustainability focus, among others. She has two new investments pending announcement where she will also take board seats.

In her initial years as an investor, Barooah learned that the best VCs are flexible and align with market trends. Initially, she invested in blockchain and crypto companies, but she now focuses primarily on vertical SaaS startups utilizing AI.

Barooah is enthusiastic about expanding her portfolio and looks forward to her new role as a partner, ready to assist founders when needed.

“I started my journey in venture four years ago, knowing nothing,” Barooah said. “Over these four years, I’ve refined my judgment on what constitutes a good company. It’s not perfect by any means, but I’ve had more successes compared to when I first started. This gives me the confidence to take on more contrarian bets. In VC, it’s about believing in things no one else does and being right.”

Rebecca Szkutak
Rebecca Szkutak
Rebecca is a senior writer that covers venture capital trends and startups. She previously covered the same beat for Forbes and the Venture Capital Journal.

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