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
Bay Area, Boston, New York

Portfolio Highlights

About Ajay

My first start-up was during my sophomore year in college. A classmate was starting a software company to help tech companies manage their quotes, proposals and contacts all in one database (sounds a lot like CRM!). I joined him and we scaled that business to $1M in revenue. He later dropped out and founded Trilogy Software, where I eventually joined him again as employee 18. I ran product and sales at Trilogy for eight years, until we reached $300M in revenue.

I was trained as an electrical engineer at Stanford. In between my software startups, I spent two summers as a telemetry design engineer for Hughes Aircraft Space and Communications Group in El Segundo, CA. I helped Hughes bid on the original DirectTV satellite.

I grew up in Pittsburgh, PA. My parents were immigrants from India and moved to Pittsburgh (via the UK, where I was born) when I was one. They encouraged me to take risks and pursue something entrepreneurial.

What is the first company you invested in?

One of my earliest investments at BCV was Kiva Systems, founded by Mick Mountz.  Mick’s vision was to use software and a mobile robotic system to streamline the process for e-commerce fulfillment. Back when we led the first institutional round in 2004, e-commerce was still nascent. Mick, however, had accurately predicted that as e-commerce penetration grew and the assortment being offered by each merchant expanded, fulfillment costs would balloon out of control. Kiva eventually crossed $100M in revenue and its customers included all the major e-commerce retailers at the time: Staples, Zara, Zappos and the Gap. In 2012, Amazon bought the company and rebranded it as Amazon Robotics — and now Kiva’s robots power over 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 over 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.

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

I love application software that has a core architectural advantage. The UIs, basic workflows and features of any application can be copied, but the best application companies have a technology moat, as well. Clari’s forecasting solution is based on a real-time ingestion system that captures signals from dozens of enterprise systems and normalizes them into a longitudinal view, allowing the AI engine to perform complex calculations that deliver forecasting insights. At Clockwise, the core system is designed to optimize thousands of calendars concurrently in order to dynamically adjust meetings to free up “focus time” for individual engineers and knowledge workers.

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.

BCV partner Ajay Agarwal interviews Anthropic co-founder and president Daniela Amodei at Inflection 2023 in San Francisco. (BCV)
BCV partner Ajay Agarwal interviews Anthropic co-founder and president Daniela Amodei at Inflection 2023 in San Francisco. (BCV)

What is compelling about your domain?

Application software is the greatest businesses on the planet. What other product can be sold over and over again with close to 100% marginal profit! The best application software is embedded in a company’s workflow with dozens, hundreds or even thousands of employees relying on it 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 more than 15 years have been on the board of BUILD, a national nonprofit that helps high school students from disadvantaged communities succeed through a program focused on entrepreneurship.

I am a “forever optimistic” Pittsburgh Steeler fan, having grown up in Pittsburgh. I enjoy playing tennis, going to Barry’s and reading literature and nonfiction. And I love spending time with my wife and three daughters.

What is a self-care ritual you practice?

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

Background

2 years
8 years
20 years

Insights

Bain Capital Ventures: Reimagined

We are launching the new BCV today, at the dawn of the AI revolution.

Ajay Agarwal, Christina Melas-Kyriazi 2 min read
Bain Capital Ventures

Load Up the Truck: Announcing our Investment in TruckSmarter

Truck drivers form the backbone of the US supply chain. In fact, over 70% of all goods shipped in the US travel by truck. Yet there is a massive shortage of drivers — the American Trucking Association estimates a shortage of drivers to the tune of 80,000 today — that’s only set to get worse,…

Ajay Agarwal 3 min read
Spotlight Apps Seed

Ajay's Selected Portfolio Companies

Company
About
Partner
Invested
Domain
Investment Stage

Unlocking customer data to improve acquisition efforts for large online retailers.

Partner Ajay Agarwal
Invested 2011
Apps
Acquired Early