Agnay Mohindra is currently an undergraduate student at the University of Chicago, Class of 2020, studying Economics and Statistics. He joined Midway Ventures during his first year.
Q: Why did you join Midway Ventures?
A: Growing up in Abu Dhabi and coming from New Delhi, I’ve seen the impact of startups on the economy in these countries. Coming to the USA, which is really the hub of startups in the world, I always knew that I wanted to join an entrepreneurship-related club. At the same time, I was also really interested in consulting and solving problems. Midway Ventures basically provided a perfect combination of both. It’s a startup consulting group so it fulfilled my interest in consulting and it fulfilled my interest in startups and entrepreneurship.
Q: What was it like applying to Midway Ventures?
A: I think the application process was very good. There were a few questions in the application written to try to gauge you as a person and your interests. More than that, I really liked the interview structure because it’s how real consulting firms conduct their interviews. There’s a case study and there’s a behavioral aspect to it. I feel that is the best way to ascertain how someone thinks because they are presented with an unfamiliar case, something that they haven’t seen before, and something that is pretty complex. You can see how someone reacts to unexpected questions. It was a very good procedure.
Q: Why do you like venture capital and entrepreneurship?
A: Growing up I saw the impact of startups and venture capital, whether it was something as small as a seeing a falafel shop in Abu Dhabi grow into one of the largest falafel chains or really just being surrounded by the huge venture capital ecosystem back home in India. It was a combination of seeing how venture capital has an impact on startups and how startups have an impact on the world.
As another personal thing, I started watching Shark Tank. I just loved watching those ideas because it made you think about how simple everyday things, like calling people or eating food, can be done differently. That was another influence for sure.
Q: What is your favorite event that you have participated in or watched?
A: Tiger Launch because this year was my first exposure to it. Obviously, I’ve seen Shark Tank. I’ve seen some pitch shows in India, like the Apprentice. But, actually being there and seeing those pitches and seeing the judges, that was super interesting and after watching that event it really inspired me to attend other events. So, I went to CNVC, and I plan on attending the Social New Venture challenge as well as the CNVC final. I’m definitely going to be more involved with that next year.
Q: If you had to start a company in the next six months, what would it be and why?
A: One thing that I’ve found was that when I’m working in a case competition, or just in any competition, there is a lot of time wasted. Some people who are assigned tasks finish their tasks, but then another person hasn’t finished, leaving the people who are done to sit idle. I’d develop something that organizes people in a competition setting because competitions, like hack-a-thons or case competitions, are done within a team and with a strict deadline. Therefore, time is really valuable. I’d develop something that streamlines the process so you can see, basically, how much of a task is completed and displays different percentages of completion. Rather than just saving it on google docs, you have something easier, and with live updates, so that people can see how much is done.
Q: What aspect of being in Midway Ventures has surprised you the most?
A: Honestly, I had a very good perception of Midway coming in but definitely the close-knit nature of the group. There are a lot of other RSOs on campus which equip you with the skills that you need to succeed in your professional life or just explore your academic interests, but there are very few groups in which you actually get to know each person. I think that’s really the hallmark of Midway. It’s a small group where everybody knows each other and everybody is willing to help each other out, whether it be with classes or professional development or just, in general, college life. I knew that was what it was going to be like with a small group but it wasn’t expecting it to be to the extent that it was. For example, whenever I pass a Midway Ventures member on the quad there’s such a warm, welcoming feeling. That’s definitely a part that I didn’t expect.
Q: What member of Midway Ventures do you think is most likely to end up on Shark Tank, either as an investor or an entrepreneur?
A: I think that it’s a clear choice: Anand. He already has a very successful startup, and I see him becoming very successful with that startup and becoming an investor in the future.
Q: What skill would you like to learn next? Either for Midway Ventures or in general.
A: Something that I feel like I’m good with is communication skills, but what I’m not good at is approaching people. One thing I was very impressed with was what George and Danielle did during Tiger Launch, which was reaching out to somebody that they’ve never met before, introducing themselves and really getting an organic conversation flowing. They introduced what Midway Ventures is and sourced clients. Even in a non-sourcing way, just sort of starting an organic conversation. Even though I know how to talk well with my friends and people I know, I don’t know how to do it with unfamiliar people and I feel that George and Danielle did it really well so I really want to develop those skills moving forward and going to events like CVCC or the Social New Venture Challenge or Tiger Launch.
Q: What has been your favorite class, and what is the most useful thing you have learned in it?
A: This quarter, it’s definitely Economics for Everyone with Steven Levitt. It’s absolutely wonderful. It makes you think of everyday scenarios in an economic way. Maybe that can be thought of as crazy by some people, but I just like those things and thinking about them. When I hear somebody mixing up correlation and causality or I see somebody acting irrationally, I actually think of the economic theory that they’ve taught us. That was a class that’s definitely changed the way I view the world.
Q: What is your favorite TV show and why?
A: I would say my favorite TV show is Shark Tank. Whenever I get some time I watch that show. Other than that, it’s not technically a TV show, but I’m a huge cricket fan, I support the Indian cricket team and I watch the Indian premier league, which is a local league in India. When the Indian Premier League matches went on, I would usually try to catch a few minutes of them between classes.
Q: What is something you would do if you weren't too afraid?
A: Ride a rollercoaster. I rode a rollercoaster when I was like eight-years-old and ever since then I’ve never ridden a roller coaster. I’m from UAE, and there they have the fastest rollercoaster in the world. It’s thirty minutes away, and I’ve never been.
After freshman year, I went home during winter holidays. My family and I went to different theme parks. I was the only one in my family who didn’t go on a rollercoaster. It’s something that people make fun of, but I just can’t get myself to do it.