Speaker Spotlight on Swati Chaturvedi

In anticipation of Austin's inaugural FUND Conference, speaker spotlights will be featured on each content provider to highlight their backgrounds, passions and advice to those of us in the space.

Today, we share with you Swati Chaturvedi, speaking on the Alternative Sources of Investment panel at FUND this April 26th. 

Swati,  please tell us what you do and why you got started.

Every day, groundbreaking science and technology companies go unfunded because accredited and otherwise knowledgeable investors have a tough time understanding these companies’ technologies or business potential. That’s why my co-founder and I decided to start Propel(x): an online investment platform that allows accredited investors worldwide to discover, evaluate, and invest in groundbreaking science and technology companies at their earliest stages. We are like Kickstarter, except for investing in vetted deep technology startups and receiving equity in return.

What is the most interesting and/or satisfying part of what you do and why? 

Life remains interesting around startups, especially in our line of work. We get to hang out with rocket scientists and brain surgeons everyday! Take the case of Positron Dynamics, a company currently fundraising on Propel(x) and started by renowned Positron Physicist Ryan Weed. Ryan and his team are building rocket propulsion technology that could be orders of magnitude more efficient than anything that exists today. One gram of antimatter can generate the same amount of energy as an 80 kiloton nuclear weapon. This powerful source of energy along with Positron Dynamics’ proprietary rocket maneuver technology could potentially enable interstellar space travel. This is our future, and it’s interesting to get a peek into it! Here is the CEO’s TEDx talk for more info.

Then there is Seatrec that has created a technology that harvests small temperature differences and stores them as energy. Using this technology, underwater vehicles are able to conduct 10x more underwater surveys--without the use of toxic batteries. More on this startup here.

I love to meet these companies every day and travel with them to the frontiers of technology. It’s the most interesting part of my work. Their stories are incredible and it’s fascinating to be with them through the ups and downs of being a deep tech founder. Coupled with my own experience as a founder, it’s an explosive combination!

What big ideas do you have for the future of your space?

Our mission at Propel(x) is to accelerate true innovation. I hope we will enable a world where there is healthy food and abundant energy for all, where all diseases have cures, and where the human race is super! I believe in the power of science, and I believe we can make this happen by expediting scientific innovation and bringing it to market sooner. So far we have helped close funding rounds for companies commercializing new forms of clean energy, life-saving treatments, new methods of space exploration, and uses for artificial intelligence, amongst others. These innovations aim to change the world.

What is something people might often miss about you?

Most people don’t know that I am a trained architect. That was my passion before entering the world of management consulting, finance, and now entrepreneurship. Frank Gehry is my favorite architect!

What one piece of advice would you give to those in the early stage space?

It’s all about people. Surround yourself with the right people—people who buy into your vision—then empower them to execute. Give them the freedom to shape your company. Entrepreneurs often worry that the best of people will be uber expensive. That is not the case. Usually, the people who are inspired by a vision are the ones for whom money is not the most important thing. These are usually people who are highly qualified, sought after, and who often have highly paid jobs at the best of firms. If you have a persuasive vision, they will join your journey. But they need the freedom to make the company their own. Empower them.

Why did you decide to #JoinTheFUND?

The FUND Conference brings together a great group of innovators with ambitions to change the world. From investors, entrepreneurs, corporate leaders, and experts, this is the ecosystem I have built my business around and I am excited to #JoinTheFund.

What motto do you live by?

It’s not so much of a motto, but a speech given by Theodore Roosevelt titled “The Man in the Arena.” It’s a great speech, inspiring entrepreneurship and the challenge of innovation. In summary “It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena—” or in this case, the woman. :-)

We encourage you to connect with Swati, and of course make time to meet her at FUND Conference. Swati is contributing to the 'Alternative Sources of Investment' panel taking place in the afternoon on April 26th.  Review the run of show here, where you can also mark your calendar to ensure you don't miss what Swati has to say about crowdfunding, tech platforms and how venturing beyond the traditional raise method is impacting the ecosystem. 

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