Within ten minutes of meeting Vikram Chopra and Harpreet Geekee on a Zoom call, I knew Forum Ventures would likely invest in their company. Choices like this are not made lightly. We have our LPs to look out for and answer to. Making investments in the early stages of a company is more risky than in the later stages. And Chopra and Geekee were very much still in the early phases of Shabodi, and its 5G platform, with no product yet, no revenue, and no customer validation.
But once in a while, a team comes along and you just know you need to get on board.
Of course, it was more than ten minutes. As Managing Partner at Forum Ventures, as with all potential investments, I had already spent time researching the team. Vikram had great reviews as a serial entrepreneur from one of our Partners. He knows how to run a business, and he knows how to sell a vision. With penetrating insight in Cloud, Big Data, AI, Blockchain, and 5G, he knows how to translate his passion and ideas to customers, funds, and employees. Harpreet had extremely deep technical expertise on all things 5G, which is beyond rare, and an executive track record that cemented my confidence in the team immediately.
Within those first ten minutes, I knew I was dealing with a passionate and capable team of founders with an outline of how they could solve a huge problem in a game-changing field… one I actually had some background in.
Often in venture, you meet amazing founders who are waist deep in an attempt to solve some important issue or another. It’s clear they’re geniuses, and passion is infectious, but when it comes to tech, unless you’re in the trenches with the developers, it’s a struggle to grasp the complexity of what’s being presented. You can’t fully understand it, not really. And so you have to educate yourself quickly.
When Vikram and Harpreet presented their idea for a platform and the problem they were solving for, it was a different story entirely, because it was in the same field I happened to study at college.
Every time network infrastructure is upgraded, developers need to maintain and update their code to work with the new network standards and protocols (or use products that do the same). This is a huge issue in mobile development, where how you use the network can determine how good the user experience is. Think Spotify, if every song lagged.
The next big infrastructure upgrade, 5G, is on its way. When it gets here, it will be the foundation for the internet of things, streaming, fintech, autonomous vehicles, virtual and augmented reality, and advancements in almost every global industry.
As Vikram stated in his impassioned oped, “What Everyone Gets Wrong About 5G!,” the platform will enable a range of services that have not even been invented yet. If you need more proof that 5G really is that big a deal, Vikram goes on to point out that “according to IHS Economics, 5G is expected to contribute $12.3 trillion of global economic output by 2035.” When 5G arrives, application developers must learn the new protocols and standards and how to maintain them, or miss out on the full benefits of the power of 5G - which will put them behind in key areas.
In that ten minute Zoom call, I saw that Vikram’s team had a solution that would allow businesses to truly leverage all the power of 5G without having to endlessly reinvent the wheel. Using Shabodi's first to market, revolutionary Application Enablement Platform (AEP), developers will have the power to easily control and finetune their network, optimizing applications as per their required specifications, be it in Cloud Edge, IoT, AI and AR/VR/XR
Leveraging Shabodi's AEP simplifies the ability to interact with the network by providing simple API interfaces for developers to configure applications on a 5G network - saving them time, money and resources.
In any situation where you're making a long term bet based on a short term interaction, be it in venture or in hiring, you're guessing on some level. It’s a mix of following your intuition, doing your due diligence, flexing your investing mindset muscle… and, ultimately, hoping for the best. Since extending an offer to Shabodi, I've been privileged to work closely with the team on their go-to-market and launch, and they've only exceeded our hopes.
We bet right – On December 9th, 2021, Shabodi announced that they raised $3.375 million in seed funding to enable enterprises, system integrators and telecommunications companies to accelerate the development and deployment of next-generation applications on 5G. 🎉🚀
Vikram is the definition of hustle. A visionary with a partner-first mentality, as well as a fun and reliable friend. And I knew Harpreet was a technical savant. The XP was amazing. But when he delivered the technical whitepaper on the Shabodi solution, I realized we were still underestimating him. His solution was brand new, highly complex, elegant, and brilliant. He's recruited and managed world class talent in an insanely competitive market (most engineers, even network engineers, don't know 5G). More importantly, he's a good man, and a great dad.
I am proud of their progress so far, and that those ten minutes have led to a journey of growth together. As the dawn of 5G approaches, I’m looking forward to cheering them on.
An engineer by trade, Jonah Midanik has spent the last twenty years at the intersection of marketing and technology as a serial entrepreneur in Canada. Jonah has been lucky enough to have several different lenses on the founder's journey from bootstrapping, to launching new corporate divisions, and raising 8 figures of venture capital. Jonah currently spends his time helping Canadian companies grow with Forum.
5G promises to be the biggest disruption since the smartphone, powering the new industrial 4.0 digital economy. Shabodi (www.shabodi.com) is the first to market with a patent-pending platform that enables developers to build & deploy next generation applications on a 5G network. Shabodi is building a solution that will transform the manner in which applications are being enabled on the networks, especially a 5G network, providing the foundation for a brand new digital economy.
Shabodi a well-funded, venture-backed team of former industry heavyweights from Cisco, Juniper Networks, Nortel, EY and Macquarie Group, with two start-up exits and 4 patents under their belts. Their investors are some of the biggest names in the industry and include Blumberg Capital, Counterview Capital, SineWave and Shasta Ventures.