SEO Alumni Spotlight Jalak Jobanputra
Jalak Jobanputra, her brother and her parents, all of Indian descent, moved to southern New Jersey from Tanzania when she was a young girl. Being the only person of color in her rural town, Jalak’s mother asked a neighbor, “What do American girls do?” in hopes that Jalak could partake in a typical ‘American girl’ hobby. Her neighbor’s answer was not financial technology, investment banking, or venture capital; it was ballet.
Despite many years of pursuing ballet seriously, Jalak’s life took her down a different path. One that happened to be very atypical of an American girl, and still happens to be one that many women never venture to explore.
When it was time to embark on college, Jalak was accepted to the University of Pennsylvania as an English major with the goal of becoming a journalist. Many trips to East Africa and India as a child influenced this decision: She was fascinated with the concept of connectivity and wanted to connect cultures through the written word.
Growing up, she was not exposed to the finance industry; instead, she chose to take her first Economics class on a dare from a few Wharton undergraduates. One class and she was hooked – she decided to dual major in Finance and Communication. While it might seem like a unique combination of study, marrying the two subjects was surprisingly easy as Jalak’s career began to evolve.
Experience at SEO
While at UPenn, Jalak was consistently finding ways to challenge herself. By her junior year, she was ready for her next challenge: Investment Banking. Through campus connections,
Jalak’s training and internship through SEO became a foundational, and pivotal, time in her life. The rigor of the SEO program was challenging but rewarding, an education that ultimately changed the trajectory of her career. Her experience taught her invaluable lessons and addressed real issues she was likely going to face as a brown woman trying to break into a male-dominated industry. Resilient she was.
Jalak’s received a full-time job offer at Lehman Brothers following her SEO-placed internship. She was interested in media and telecommunication banking, and ultimately spent three years in this industry: two years in New York City and one year in London. Entrepreneurial at heart, she decided to leave her secure banking job to work for a start-up.
During this time, the internet and technology were of increasing interest to many, especially Jalak. She also began learning about venture capital during the internet boom and bust. Jalak’s experience working at a start-up, combined with her new education in venture capital and technology readied her for the next pivotal, and perhaps the proudest, moment in her career: the decision to start her own Venture Capital fund.
Starting FuturePerfect Ventures
Jalak’s passion of connecting the world through technology, coupled with her personal and professional experiences culminated in the greatest, scariest decision of her life: Starting her own venture capital firm, totally on her own.
Often, Jalak felt like an outsider in working in the VC world she loved. As a brown woman rooted in the VC world, she constantly questioned, “Is my voice being heard?” The longer she worked in the industry, the more glaring the lack of diversity became. To tackle that problem, she decided to build a globally positioned firm centered around inclusivity.
The process of raising capital to start her firm was stressful and frustrating. Jalak wanted FuturePerfect Ventures to be focused on cryptocurrency and blockchain investing, as she believed that would be the platform of the future. But 2013, it was difficult to attract investors to an untested technology. While it was an uphill battle, Jalak stayed resilient and in 2014, officially launched her firm. Today, Future Perfect Ventures has seed invested companies now worth over $20B.
FuturePerfect Ventures encompasses Jalak’s passion of creating a more equitable future for humanity by investing in founders that believe in their mission of connecting the world through technology. However, Jalak’s civic engagement doesn’t stop with her firm’s investments.
She mentors younger women about careers in the FinTech sector and is very involved in the growing tech sector in NYC including advising the implementation of tech programs and internships. She also actively works with the mayor of Miami with the goal of educating people on crypto and blockchain technology to promote accessibility to all.
She is also a member of the Board of Directors for the Center for an Urban Future, the Advisory Board of L’Oreal’s Women in Digital Initiative, Mayor DeBlasio’s Broadband Taskforce, and a former Access to Capital Committee member of the US Secretary of State Clinton Women’s Leadership Council.
Jalak Jobanputra has accomplished incredible feats within the investment banking and venture capital industries. Her story is one to be admired. Like anyone, she has learned some things along the way. She couldn’t have succeeded without the support of her friends and loved ones – those connections kept and keep, her grounded today. Finding success in a competitive, non-minority, male-dominated industry required conviction, commitment, and resilience.