Lightspeed Venture Partners announced today that it has brought on board Ansaf Kareem as its newest associate partner. In this role, he’ll be focused on software as a service (SaaS) investments, such as those in marketplaces and the financial space. Previously, he worked on the product side at RelateIQ, prior to its acquisition by Salesforce.
This is Kareem’s first time as an investor, and he told VentureBeat that he’s looking at deals from various angles. Specifically, he’s interested in new workflows created with the enterprise, and he’s even looking at what the new fintech interface for consumers will be. With the latter, Kareem shared that he’s interested in how the customer journey will evolve in the future, when we no longer go to banks for all of our financial needs, but we’re also not using dozens of apps. “How do you create a product that’s front and center while dealing with all parts of financial wellness?” he asked.
Kareem grew up in Oregon, where his father was a technology executive and his mother a doctor-turned-social worker who started an organization to resettle refugees from war-torn countries. He shares that his dad offered numerous gadgets that the two could nerd out on together, but his mom taught him to think about being of service, asking “How would you use your life in a purposeful way?”
Fast-forward to his college career at Stanford University and the University of Oxford, where he explored the potential of home technology that could “change the world landscape and affect social issues in a positive way.”
This challenge stayed with him through his post-graduate experiences, from his start as a consultant with McKinsey & Company to his work as a policy fellow for Senator Cory Booker’s campaign to work on product at RelateIQ. He opted to become a venture capitalist because he felt he could have the biggest impact supporting and partnering with entrepreneurs who have great ideas about how to shape the world. Instead of working with just one company, Kareem said he’s excited to be helping many companies, while also maximizing their impact at scale.
His time working as a consultant, along with his product experience and his drive to social good, could be an asset for Lightspeed and its portfolio companies, which include IGN, Nutanix, Riverbed, Affirm, Blockchain, Cheddar, GrubHub, Giphy, Nest, TaskRabbit, and Snap. Kareem thinks he’ll be able to offer a deeper product lens than many investors are able to provide to founders.
“I know how much courage and how hard it is to build a phenomenal company,” he said. “I’m almost too aware of all of this stuff. For me, it’s more about thinking about ways to become creative and help other folks in terms of how they think about it.”
Kareem’s already begun meeting companies to discuss possible investments, but none of these have closed yet. While he’s focusing on SaaS investments, Kareem isn’t closing the door to other areas, and he is keeping a watchful eye on a number of exciting fields, such as artificial intelligence, advances in the consumerization of I.T., and verticalization of industries.