Ajay Agarwal

Ajay Agarwal builds and invests in early-stage application software companies. Within apps, Ajay has spent time in the modern sales and marketing stack; vertical SAAS with embedded fintech; supply chain and logistics; and product-led growth.

Partner
Boston

About Ajay

What is the first company you invested in?

One my first investments at BCV was Kiva Systems. I met Mick in the summer of 2004 and he took to me his small warehouse in Burlington, MA and showed off his prototype robot. It’s hard to believe how nascent ecommerce was then, but Mick was the first person to educate me on why packing individual SKUs into a box was so labor intensive, especially when a worker had to find your three SKUs among ten million available SKUs in the warehouse. Mick’s vision was so compelling though that we led the first institutional round in Kiva, despite the company having no revenue or customers. Eight years later, Kiva had crossed 100M in revenue with thousands of its beautiful orange robots powering the warehouses of Staples, The Gap, Zara, Zappos, and Diapers.com. In 2012, Amazon bought the company and now Kiva’s robots power all 2000 fulfillment centers in Amazon’s global network. Mick’s tagline in his investor pitch was “Kiva is turning atoms into bits.” And that’s exactly what he did!

 

What do you love about working for Bain Capital Ventures?

I love the team at BCV–why else would I have stayed for nearly 20 years? It’s a group of incredible people who love technology, are passionate about startups, and are tireless in their efforts to help our companies succeed. We truly operate as a team, which is unusual in the venture world. And the founders I work with notice this. They know most, if not all, the partners at BCV and feel like they can reach out to anyone on the team at any time. 

 

Do you have an investment ethos? Is there a portfolio company investment that exemplifies that ethos?

I love products that have some kind of core architectural advantage.  At some level, all applications can be copied and seemingly any competitor can steal the basic UI and workflows.  But usually, the best application companies have a technology insight that is built into the core of the solution.  At Bloomreach, Raj the founder recognized that AI had to be built from the ground up and wasn’t something you could layer on top.   At Clari, our  Datahub architecture which provides a real-time event layer for any signal from any enterprise system that might impact revenue is the company’ secret sauce.  And at Clockwise, our solution is built with the notion that calendars are both “single player” and “multi-player” and optimizing time can happen at the individual, team, or organizational level.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Be curious, take risks, be willing to change, try to see the world through a different lens. 

What is compelling about your domain?

Application software is one of the greatest businesses on the planet. Most workflows and processes inside businesses are still manual and inefficient. Software can streamline and eliminate this inefficiency, allowing information workers to focus their energies on higher-value tasks. The best application software gets embedded in a company’s workflow with dozens, hundreds or even thousands of employees relying on it each and every day. As a result, our companies enjoy decades-long relationships with their customers, generating high margin recurring revenue and expanding their footprint into adjacent areas. Today, product-led growth is creating far more efficient models to acquire customers, while embedded payments and marketplaces have created new revenue streams beyond traditional software licenses.

 

What are your interests and passions outside of BCV?

I am passionate about education and, for 12 years, I have been on the board of BUILD.org, a national nonprofit that helps high school students from disadvantaged communities succeed through a program focused on entrepreneurship. 

I am an eternally optimistic, die-hard Pittsburgh Steeler fan having grown up in Pittsburgh. I also love playing tennis and reading nonfiction and literature.. But most of all, I love startups and the journey from a couple of founders and an idea to something that can ultimately change an entire industry. 

What is a self-care ritual you practice?

Sleep 7-8 hours a day (with my Oura ring)!

Background

2 years
8 years
19 years

Insights

Clari: Instrumentation For Modern Revenue Operations

Eight years ago, I met the founders of a new startup in the sales and marketing software space. As a venture investor, I was naturally jaded when I took the meeting. Thousands of startups were launching to re-invent sales, VCs were pumping out market maps with tiny logos crammed onto one slide, and there were […]

Ajay Agarwal 5 min read
Spotlight Infra

Software For Modern Hardware: Our Seed Investment In Flux

Over the past five years, there has been an explosion in hardware startups thanks to dramatically lower cost components driven by Google/Apple’s innovations in the smartphone space; the maturing of powerful technology such as computer vision, machine learning and 3D printing; and an on-demand supply chain which has significantly reduced the up-front fixed costs expenses […]

Ajay Agarwal 4 min read
News Infra Seed

Ahead Of Projections: Airbase’s $60M Series B

Today, Airbase announced their Series B, a heavily oversubscribed $60M financing led by Menlo Ventures. We are thrilled to welcome Menlo and Matt Murphy to the Airbase team. A little over a year ago, we announced our own Series A investment in Airbase and outlined four reasons why we invested in the company: decentralization of spending decisions, modernization of B2B payments, […]

Ajay Agarwal 3 min read
News Infra

Ajay's Portfolio

Company
About
Partner
Invested
Domain
Stage

AutoLeap is a modern auto repair shop management software that helps you grow, is easy to use, and builds customer trust.

Partner(s) Ajay Agarwal
Invested 2021
Apps
Early

Palette easily create and maintain efficient compensation plans built for growth.

Partner(s) Ajay Agarwal
Invested 2021
Apps
Early Seed
Case Study

Clockwise optimizes teams' calendars to create more time in everyone’s day.

Partner(s) Ajay Agarwal
Invested 2020
Apps
Early

Reprise is the product experience platform for product-led growth.

Partner(s) Ajay Agarwal
Invested 2020
Apps
Early

With no integrations and a simple keystroke, Magical lets anyone automate soul-crushing tasks by moving data between tabs.

Partner(s) Kevin Zhang, Ajay Agarwal
Invested 2020
Apps
Seed

Voiceops tunrs data into measurable outcomes for call center coaching.

Partner(s) Ajay Agarwal
Invested 2019
Apps
Early

Akkio is a technology company that makes AI easy enough for anyone to use.

Partner(s) Ajay Agarwal
Invested 2019
Apps
Seed

Parlor's URM is a single system of record for capturing user insights across the entire customer journey, surfacing any unmet needs, indicators of risk, and opportunities for expansion.

Partner(s) Ajay Agarwal
Invested 2019
Apps
Seed

Argyle accesses employment records instantly with consumer consent.

Partner(s) Ajay Agarwal
Invested 2019
Fintech
Growth Seed

Nuro is an American robotics company based in Mountain View, California and founded by Jiajun Zhu and Dave Ferguson.

Partner(s) Ajay Agarwal
Invested 2018
Apps
Early

Vention helps some of the most innovative manufacturing companies automate their production floor in just a few days.

Partner(s) Ajay Agarwal
Invested 2018
Apps
Early Growth

The first all-in-one spend management platform built for today’s growing companies.

Partner(s) Ajay Agarwal
Invested 2017
Fintech
Seed

100,000+ small (but mighty) businesses use Homebase to manage their hourly teams, with employee scheduling, time clocks, payroll, and more.

Partner(s) Ajay Agarwal
Invested 2017
Apps
Early

ShipBob empowers businesses to offer 2-day shipping and manage inventory, orders, and shipments.

Partner(s) Ajay Agarwal
Invested 2017
Commerce
Early

FourKites is the world's fastest-growing predictive supply chain platform, delivering real-time visibility and execution for Fortune 500 companies and third-party logistics firms across 70 countries.

Partner(s) Ajay Agarwal
Invested 2016
Apps
Early Growth

Trooly delivers Instant Trust™ services that verify, screen and predict trustworthy relationships and interactions.

Partner(s) Ajay Agarwal
Invested 2015
Apps
Early

BevSpot is a Food & beverage management software for inventory, ordering, invoicing and access to critical sales data.

Partner(s) Ajay Agarwal
Invested 2015
Apps
Early

Adentro is an American technology company based in San Francisco.

Partner(s) Ajay Agarwal
Invested 2015
Apps
Early

Twilio provides programmable communication tools for making and receiving phone calls, sending and receiving text messages, and performing other communication functions.

Partner(s) Ajay Agarwal
Invested 2014
Apps
Growth

Onera connects events across siloed systems into a single, real-time source of truth, powering any channel or application at web-speed.

Partner(s) Ajay Agarwal
Invested 2014
Apps Business Services
Early