People of Landscape - Saloni Bhojwani, Co-founder & Partner at Pink Salt Ventures.

Saloni Bhojwani is Co-founder & Partner at Pink Salt Ventures (PSV), London based, pre-seed investors backing market-making female founders.

How long have you been investing for?

My current role is Co-founder & Partner at Pink Salt Ventures (PSV). I’ve been investing since 2015/16 in various capacities - with family offices, at Founders Factory, and as an angel investor where I could define my own thesis. I was also on the Founding Team of Zebra Fuel, a seed-stage VC-backed startup.

Would you call yourself a serial Founder?

This is not my first rodeo but I wouldn’t call myself serial either to be fair.

What's your backstory. How did you come to be where you're at today?

I grew up in Singapore, in a family full of entrepreneurs, business owners, and commercially savvy individuals. After university, I started my career in strategy consulting, where I worked across Southeast Asia during a period of exploding innovation in the region. I moved to London in 2015 to do my MBA at LBS, and knew I wanted to get into tech but wasn’t sure - operator or investor - so I tried everything. I joined the founding team of seed-stage startup Zebra Fuel (backed by LocalGlobe & First Minute Capital), started angel investing, transitioned to investing full time at Founders Factory, before joining PSV.

What has been the highlight of your career so far?

Honestly, the highlight and the thing I’m most grateful for is having found a business partner in Samira. Finding someone who shares the same vision, ambition, grit, and willingness to really do the time is hard. Raising your first fund is hard. And I’m really grateful to have her on the journey with me. Read more about our co-founder vetting process and takeaways here.

What has been the lowlight?

Naysayers! People telling us it’s impossible to actually make a £10m fund work, that we’re crazy to do what we’re doing, that the best female founders get funded and there isn’t a problem, etc. On the wrong day these conversations can be quite draining and feel like a wet blanket. However, if you’re doing anything innovative naysayers are inevitable, so for the most part these conversations (and the frustration they generate) fuel me to work harder to prove them wrong.

How did you come across Landscape?

Joe was unfortunate enough to have a screening call with me when he was joining the Backed community. And then we discovered our mutual love for and addiction to the hustle, and the rest is history.

Biggest challenge right now/thing you need help on:

Female founder pre-seed deals, intros to exited/leading female founders and women in the ecosystem (for PSV’s blog!) and intros to other fund managers - with whom conversations tend to be super productive and helpful!

What's the biggest mistake you’ve made so far and what did you learn from it?

In the beginning of my career, I had the very typically female tendency to not back myself in performance reviews, salary negotiations, bonuses etc. I was lucky to have a mentor in the firm (which was extremely male dominated) that drew my attention to this and explained that if I don’t back myself no one will. That signified a big turning point in my approach to my own career, and I do my best to pass this advice on to my girlfriends too.

What piece of advice would you give to other people in similar roles to you?

Figure out a company culture you admire, and what it takes to cultivate that in your own firm. Then try your best to live it from day 1. This practice has been really helpful at Pink Salt Ventures - we’re a small team but this has helped us make decisions in a unified and aligned way.

What is the most frustrating thing you find about the startup fundraising ecosystem?

Pale male and stale anyone? No but actually, there’s a few.
- I think there’s some easy steps funds and investors can take to preclude bias coming into investor-founder conversations, e.g. standardising questions (literally a script). But very few actually do this.
- Women supporting women - this is something I talk a lot about. More amazing women in this ecosystem makes the ecosystem better. There’s no limit to how many people are allowed to shine simultaneously, and yet I meet and have met many women that feel competitive with each other. Not ideal, and not productive.
- Transparency with founders, and transparency with other fund managers. Nobody likes to have their time wasted, and telling a founder where your head is actually at is the most considerate thing an investor can do. The same goes for LPs and fund managers to be fair. No one likes being on unknown and shaky ground. And between fund managers - LPs typically invest in many funds, not just one. Especially not just one type of fund (i.e. an LP in a female founder fund would not consider that mutually exclusive with investing in a climate tech fund). I regularly share LP contacts/intros with other emerging fund managers, and some definitely reciprocate, but this stuff should be open source.

What you would like to see change in the startup fundraising ecosystem within the next 5 years?

All of the above. And the blatantly obvious - improvement in the female founder funding stats!

Saloni is Co-founder & Partner at Pink Salt Ventures. Her LinkedIn profile can be found here & her Twitter here.

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