As a chemical engineering graduate with a minor in finance, Vishal Tripathi knew he wanted a career in a field that would use mathematics. His knowledge of finance combined with his understanding of public markets landed him a quantitative research associate role with JP Morgan in India, where he developed alternative risk premia strategies and worked on pricing models with the Commodities Desk. "My early experience with JP Morgan was instrumental in shaping my mind and solidifying my understanding of real world finance. Looking back, the majority of my practical skills were developed on that job."
To further develop his skills in portfolio management and mathematical finance he decided to pursue a masters degree in financial engineering at the Haas School of Business. He credits the great professors, precise and relevant curriculum as well as students behind choosing the MFE program. Even amidst a pandemic, Vishal thinks that the interpersonal and tailored approach of the program leadership helped him extract the most from his masters degree. He believes that the program helped him grow both academically and as a person amidst a very difficult time. "Personally Berkeley has been a life changing experience for me. Adversity brings out the best in a community and the MFE acted as a family for me during this pandemic. The Cal network helped me forge deep connections and the virtual learning combined with the group assignments, although intense, were definitely crucial for my progress."
At the start of the program Vishal wanted to progress his career by moving to a hedge fund or an asset management firm. He even completed an industry project with a big hedge fund as a part of his MFE curriculum. It wasn't until he spoke with his eventual employer that he understood how widely his skills could be applicable. Vishal, through the MFE program, completed his internship at Plexo Capital - an institutional investment firm spun out of Google Ventures (GV) which invests in emerging seed stage VCs and invests directly into startups sourced by them. The founding managing partner and Vishal's mentor Lo Toney had long understood how the power of data combined with finance would be revolutionary in early stage investing. Realizing that he needed both someone who understood sophisticated financial analysis using large sets of data combined with purpose built algorithms and software applications, he turned to the MFE to seek talent needed for his firm. Lo offered an internship position to Vishal who, according to Lo, was the perfect candidate.
Vishal joined Plexo Capital full time as a Portfolio Manager after graduation. He currently leads the investment process, sourcing and evaluating deals on both LP to GP front and direct investing. He works on the portfolio construction model for Plexo Capital and also advises multiple emerging managers on the nuances around portfolio construction.
Vishal believes venture capital is at the edge of disruption given the many entry points and various new ways of liquidation along with the emergence of data driven investing. He expects more people from a quantitative finance background to enter the private markets. "What happened in the public markets in the early 90's is what is happening in the private markets now. With the emergence of secondaries, SPACs, rolling funds along with data driven investment thesis, we are at a tipping point where more capital will flow in the private markets and early stage venture investing is going to lead the innovation."