Houston innovators podcast episode 201
How this Houston investor closed a $32M oversubscribed fund in less than a month
It might be cool to arrive fashionably late to a party, but Houston investor Sahir Ali likes to be early when it comes to new technologies.
"What has been a part of my success and has driven a lot of my profesional, scientific, and financial growth has been being ahead of the curve a little bit in technologies. That is really the basis of the fund," Ali, founder and general partner of Modi Ventures, says on the Houston Innovators Podcast.
"Hardware and software have come to a point where now artificial intelligence is ready to go, and I think the biggest benefactor of that is going to be health care and the health and medicine space — and that space is not easy for investors to just jump in right away," he continues.
That's why Ali decided to start his own firm, Modi Ventures, with his brother, Amir. The two have invested in a family office capacity before, but raising the initial fund for Modi Ventures was a whole different story. With his background in research, cloud computing, AI, finance, and more across the country, Ali set up the fund in the Houston area where he's from.
"When I see Houston market — and Texas in general — you won't see a lot of funds raising in Houston. ... It's not New York or California where folks do go after a lot of LPs," Ali says. "There are folks who have the appetite, but they are hard to reach."
"The structure that made sense for Houston had to be access that just wasn't available."
From ideation to launch, Ali proceeded to raise the initial fund in one month, accumulating an oversubscribed amount of $32 million. He credits to this in part to the fact that he's the fund's first investor, indicating to other limited partners that he's got skin in the game. He says he also wanted have a very open door with LPs.
"The thing I noticed when a lot of funds pitched to me as a potential LP is that there's a lot of vagaries and a black box effect in VC," he says. "My process was to incorporate transparency and education."
Now with its Tech+Bio Fund I closed, Modi Ventures has already deployed capital to three startups: Amsterdam-based Lapsi Health, Houston-based Starling Medical, and Boston-based Cyberdontics.
But Modi doesn't just invest in startups. The fund is a bit of a hybrid in that it also invests as an LP into other funds. The throughline is that the funds Modi Ventures invests in — as well as the startups — sit at the intersection of AI and health care. The first fund relationships Ali has entered into include Khosla Ventures, Draper Associates, Artis Ventures, and Antler Group — funds that have proven their success in this emerging field.
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