Hi, I’m Ketan Gangatirkar. I’m a technology executive, angel investor, and mentor based in Austin, Texas, though I work with people all over. I was most recently the Vice President of Engineering and Product at Coder, building the future of software engineering. Prior to joining Coder, I was a Vice President of Engineering at Indeed, leading a team of 500 responsible for Job Seeker products (everything the ordinary person thinks of as “Indeed”).
I’ve been lucky to be a mentor for many people over the years. Some of this was through formal programs, both at Indeed and also via Plato and WEST. I’ve also mentored people who organically sought me out and kept coming back.
Where I excel:
- Defining needed roles and selecting and evaluating candidates
- Helping leaders grow, particularly from small teams to large organizations
- Coaching high potential contributors
- Ruthless prioritization
- Creative problem solving: if plan A doesn’t work, I can almost always come up with a plan B. If plan J doesn’t work, I’m right back at you with a plan K.
- General analytic problem-solving, especially first principles thinking and second order effects
- Skeptical sounding board. I won’t say I’ll find all the weaknesses in an idea, but I’ll find most of them.
- Developing presentations for clarity and persuasiveness — both the content and the speaker
I want to help others grow faster and accomplish great things by sharing the lessons I learned slowly and painfully over the years.
You can learn some of how I think from various talks I’ve given that are available on YouTube (see below).
Thanks to the suggestion and assistance of my friend EJ Lawless, I’ve started investing in early stage startups. I haven’t been doing this for long, so I can’t say anything about outcomes.
In investments I look for:
- Teams that execute methodically with discipline
- To solve intrinsically hard problems, e.g. hiring, leadership, or hard sciences
- With an unconventional approach or idea
- In an overlooked or unglamorous area
- Where solving the problem has significant practical utility
I will be unlikely to invest in:
- Anything ads related — I just don’t like advertising
- Crypto — I’m too ignorant and too skeptical
- Marketing technology — just doesn’t resonate with me
- Entertainment — I want to solve practical problems
- Generic marketplace for X — I want to support creative approaches
- Generic professional network for Y — ditto
I write modest checks in the thousands to ten thousands, at least until either Coder or one of my investments pays off big. Some of those investments to date are:
Creating better yield predictions for specialty crops like almonds, grapes, and walnuts, so farmers can optimize their farming and sell more predictably. I invested because they have a strong team solving a valuable problem in an underserved area with high importance. YC W17.
HR and payroll for SMBs in Indonesia and Malaysia. They have excellent business results and are focused in an area that is often overlooked by Western investors. It’s also an opportunity to bet on the future of Southeast Asia, which is an earlyish, high potential area of the world. YC W21.
Rent and property management for landlords. Based in New Zealand. Introduced to me by a friend, Landlord Studio has excellent execution and solid business results. A lot of small time landlords spend a lot of time on paperwork, record-keeping, and administrative toil.
The founders are friends I first met when Indeed was acquiring their previous company, Interviewed. They continue to work in the HR space with Laskie to help businesses find the talent they need, either short-term for projects or as full-time employees. I invested because I know Chris and Daniel are sharp operators who will make Laskie successful, and I also appreciate how hiring is still terrible.
Leverage is trying to reduce the toil and error rates that supply chain managers face trying to track their goods and supplies. I invested because I think logistics are fascinating and super crucial. It’s surprising how backward a lot of the processes are, and the market is potentially huge.
I had a great opportunity to invest early in Odiggo, a rapidly growing car parts and service marketplace in Egypt. This is another case of investing into a possibly-overlooked market and market sector.
As a manager and leader, I know well the challenge of understanding team health and individual morale. I’ve also seen how the average experience of managers in the tech industry has plummeted over the last decade. RallyBright helps managers understand the health of their teams, provides recommendations to improve them, and reports on progress over time. They’ve signed some big names as customers, and their track record with expanding those engagements is quite promising.
401(k) and Individual Retirement Accounts have been around for decades. However, while the investing landscape has changed dramatically, most 401(k)s and IRAs are limited to a small set of investment types. Rocket Dollar gives investors access to a wider range of investment products. These may be riskier, but saving for retirement is a long-term endeavor, which is exactly where you should be taking those risks.
Stitchfix for petite women. There are a lot of them, and they have trouble finding clothing. YC S19.
Use the power of AI to fight writer’s block. Think of it like Oblique Strategies but more custom and for writing.
I was Nick Carneiro’s first manager out of college. He’s sharp and funny but also deeply thoughtful. He and founder Sid have steadily built an increasingly successful business helping SMBs hire. This is a graph I see going up and to the right for quite some time.
Metrics for products (from SXSW 2019)
Some lessons and guidance on scaling up as a leader
A story from early in my career at Indeed
On service level objectives for high availability services (also presented at SRECon Asia 2019).