Settling is anathema to ambitious people. You know you’ve got more in the tank and you’re not using it. You’re selling yourself short. At Entrepreneur First, we know that settling for a well paid job in a traditional career path just won’t cut it for the smartest, most ambitious people – for “the outliers”. And that’s why our mission is to liberate those outliers, by showing them that there is an alternative – one where they can take their ambition and skills and channel them into building a world changing company. Neel Popat is one of those outliers and we’re excited to see what he’ll do now that he’s been let loose on the world.
By all accounts, Neel was doing well. After graduating with First Class Honours from LSE in Maths, he’d worked his way up the finance industry, starting off as an analyst at Rothschild, before spending five years as an investment professional at two top London funds. He’d now transitioned to a career in Venture Capital, helping entrepreneurs realise their often absurd visions in New York. On the surface, things were great – Neel was living in an exciting new city and making more money than he knew what to do with. But if you dug a little deeper, something wasn’t quite right.
As it happened, that something manifested itself in a meeting with an unlikely entrepreneur at the end of 2017. In his role at Studio VC, Neel invested in startups and he found himself in a meeting with a certain Travis, who was raising $10 million for an emoji sticker business. The reason Travis was an unlikely entrepreneur, as he revealed to Neel himself, was that just a few years ago he’d started off his career working in a fried chicken shop, before rising up the ranks to manage a chain of them – and now here he was pitching for millions of dollars. Recalling his memory of that meeting, Neel remembers the thoughts running through his mind “Has this guy over-performed, or have I underperformed? Has he done really well, or have I done really badly?” Neel was selling himself short…and he knew it.