“Doubling Down” is a new series where we hear from top B2B SaaS investors on their most recent activities and takes on the current market. We had a great one last week with Rebecca Lynn, Co-Founder & General Partner at Canvas Ventures. Check that out here.
This week we’re focusing on Nina Achadijian, Partner at Index Ventures!
#1. What’s your most recent disclosed investment? Why did you do the deal?
My most recent was a $4M seed round in Class Companion, announced in October 2023. The company is an AI platform that empowers teachers to give instant, personalized feedback to students, based in San Francisco.
Index Ventures led the round with participation from the OpenAI Startup Fund, and notable angels including renowned operator and advisor Gokul Rajaram, Managing Director of Otherwise Fund Terrence Rohan, and AI luminary Andrej Karpathy, founding Research Scientist at OpenAI and former Senior Director of AI at Tesla.
We were really impressed with Class Companion’s founder Avery Pan’s clear vision and mission to help teachers leverage AI to improve education. We are seeing AI expand from big tech into vertical industries, like education, where learning is language-intensive. Class Companion is free for teachers to use and has grown from a handful of teachers when it first became available six months ago, to now being used by teachers at over 5,000 schools.
#2. What’s your sweet spot for investing — check size, stage, type of deal? And how big is your current fund?
We invest across all stages — seed, early venture, and growth, with a primary focus on early-stage. Some of our most notable investments include Figma, Datadog, Discord, Adyen and Roblox. We operate out of three major offices – San Francisco, New York, and London. Main investing areas include: AI, cloud, collaboration, consumer/marketplaces, cyber security, gaming, and fintech. Our current set of funds totals $3.4B.
#3. What’s the #1 bit of advice you’d give to SaaS founders today?
Be careful not to over-rotate based on short-term market dynamics. Many founders hit the brakes on growth to pivot towards profitability when in reality, the right combination is aiming for durable growth with a profitable business model. Profitability is certainly a major area of focus, but don’t forsake future, long-term growth for short-term benefits.
#4. What’s your pulse check on the venture markets right now, today?
There is a lot of dry powder out there and we are slowly going back into a “risk-on” environment. That said, VC funds continue to be more selective in investments and are spending more time doing diligence and really getting to know entrepreneurs ahead of rounds. 2024 looks like it will be a busy year; there are over 400 growth stage companies in the US who haven’t fundraised in over 2 years. We expect them to come to market in addition to new seed and Series A companies fueled by the AI innovation wave.
#5. What’s different about your fund / how you invest and support founders?
We are an “entrepreneur-first” investor – we partner with exceptional founders with unique insight who are intrinsically driven to make their vision a reality. Often, we ask ourselves: “If there was no venture capital available, would this person still want to build this business?”
Index-backed businesses are supported by an experienced team of investors, strategists, and an extensive global network built over three decades of startup investing. Working side-by-side through the scale up journey, we forge deep and long-lasting relationships with founders and their teams. The vast majority of these begin early in the company’s life, at Seed and Series A, and extend to IPO and beyond.
We are an international team with a global mindset, and have experience supporting founders wherever they emerge. When they succeed, they generate returns that in turn support Index’s investors, including non-profit foundations; education, healthcare and research endowments; and other impact-driven organizations.
#6. What’s an “exit” you’re particularly proud of?
We’ve been fortunate to back many companies from their earliest stages through IPO, including Datadog, Adyen, Robinhood and Roblox.
Nina focuses on venture and growth investments in enterprise SaaS, vertical SaaS, and AI. She is excited by the combination of software and payments to help legacy industries transition from using pen and paper workflows to adopting more modern, vertical-specific solutions. In 2022, she was featured on the Forbes Midas Brink List, which recognizes up-and-coming leading investors.
Previously, Nina was an FP&A Lead for Google’s AdSense team and started her career as a high yield bond trader on Wall Street. She also started HIVE Ventures, the first seed venture fund focusing on Armenian entrepreneurs, where she invested in over 30 companies.
Nina graduated from Harvard University and is a recipient of the Michael C. Rockefeller Scholarship. Nina currently lives in San Francisco and enjoys watching football and Formula 1.