In a recent interview, Gaurav Kapoor, the Co-CEO and Co-Founder of MetricStream, shared his captivating journey from growing up in India to becoming a successful entrepreneur and leader in Silicon Valley. The conversation unveils the evolution of Gaurav’s career, the birth of MetricStream, and the invaluable lessons learned along the way.
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Born in Delhi, India
Gaurav begins by reminiscing about his upbringing in India, describing the vastly different India he experienced during his youth. Despite the challenges, he highlights the promising nature of the country and its dynamic economic landscape.
Coming from a middle-class family, education played a pivotal role in Gaurav’s early years. He was fortunate to attend a prestigious engineering school and pursue a master’s degree, laying the foundation for his future endeavors.
Entrepreneurial Spirit at Citibank
Gaurav’s professional journey took a significant turn when he joined Citibank, a pioneering financial institution.
He reflects on the transformative experience of being part of a fast-paced consumer organization, witnessing the acceleration of several ‘firsts’ – the first credit card, car loans, and international mutual funds in India.
The entrepreneurial spirit at Citibank sparked Gaurav’s interest in innovation and disruption, laying the groundwork for his future entrepreneurial ventures. His move to the United States with Citi and his involvement in the burgeoning fintech sector.
Gaurav shares insights into the early days of the internet, emphasizing how Citibank and Unilever were among the first companies in India to embrace online presence sometime in 1995.
This move provided invaluable exposure to global developments in financial services, technology, and other sectors.
This experience would later influence Gaurav’s decision to transition to Silicon Valley. He remembers being in the Bay area and seeing the incredible innovation happening all around ‘at scale’ that came as a cultural shock.
Especially since everything in San Francisco seemed to move at an accelerated pace due to the force of capital and entrepreneurial imagination as compared to other places in the world
Boutique Early Stage Fund
Gaurav worked with Gunjan Sinha (who is also co-founder and Exec Chairman of MetricStream), a serial entrepreneur, to transition from Citi to an investment fund that invested in a number of young early-stage companies.
During the inception process, Gaurav saw that there was a lot of visibility into exciting opportunities. He also realized that he was more of an operator and entrepreneur at heart because of his financial, operating, and marketing background.
Post 9/11, MCI, Enron, the internet bubble thawing, and other failures happened in quick succession. He watched how companies went from a multi-billion dollar market cap to an ascent in their share prices within a year.
But that also created a whole environment of risk that accompanied rapid growth. Essentially, growth and risk are two sides of the same coin, as Gaurav opines.
At that time, the market was too immature to create what was called integrated Governance, Risk, and Compliance, or GRC.
However, Gaurav and his co-founder were inspired by companies like SAP aggregating in ERP and Salesforce that had created a new breed of CRM that had a strong position on how to integrate different facets of the customer lifecycle into one umbrella.
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The inception of MetricStream came from the idea of creating value by building a governance and risk management umbrella around the failures, innovations, and disruptions that were happening.
Gaurav talks about how exposure to disruptive technologies and the 2008 financial crisis prompted the acceleration of an integrated Governance, Risk, and Compliance (GRC) platform.
MetricStream aimed to address the challenges faced by organizations in managing risk, compliance, and governance in a rapidly evolving market. Gaurav reveals how they had the backing of capital that totaled a couple of hundred million dollars from mainstream global VCs and PE firms.
This support helped them to start the company and, at different stages of growth, successfully create a world-class market leader in the space.
Now, not only is the company profitable, but it is also successful and agile with how it is innovating and serving some of the most demanding and global customers in an area that is a must-have for organizations.
The Importance of Balancing Growth with Profitability
Gaurav underscores the importance of being able to balance growth and profitability. They also cater to enterprise customers, which are typically companies with revenues worth $3B and higher.
This clientele includes some of the largest financial services firms, energy companies, healthcare, and retail companies requiring multiple facets of innovation.
Gaurav explains how they must innovate across the platform with multiple products since they serve large global companies to help them with Operational Risk, Audit, Sox, Compliance, Cyber Security, Third Party Risk, ESG, and Resilience, among other things.
They also serve a swathe of midmarket customers through their partners. They are committed to staying ahead of the market not only in terms of the newest technologies but also in use case and domain understanding.
As Gaurav reveals, all the investments made over the last ten years, including in R&D, have allowed MetricStream to maintain leadership in a multibillion-dollar space.
Adaptability and Resilience
As MetricStream evolves, Gaurav emphasizes the importance of adaptability and staying true to the vision.
He discusses the company’s journey from on-premises solutions to the cloud, moving to rapid data-centric solutions in GRC, highlighting the necessity of keeping pace with market trends.
Gaurav underscores the critical role of customer feedback in driving innovation and ensuring that MetricStream remains at the forefront of the industry. He explains that risk management and governance compliance has been a workflow-driven world for the last ten years.
Thousands of people have been getting approvals, routings, etc., in the last couple of years because of the explosion of data, both internal and external.
As a result, companies cannot do workflow-based risk management alone, which necessitates integration with AI and robotics to ensure continuity.
Risk is no longer about a single annual audit, quarterly risk assessment, or assessment of a third party once a week. It is really about continuous monitoring, and MetricStream has made sure that its customers are also going on the journey of more automation.
As Gaurav says, intellectual curiosity has kept them driving the company forward and staying ahead of the curve.
Co-CEO Role and Extreme Ownership
Gaurav talks about his transition from CFO to COO and, ultimately, CEO, shedding light on the evolution of his responsibilities. Gaurav’s leadership philosophy centered around extreme ownership – a commitment to taking responsibility and driving the company forward.
He emphasizes the importance of serving customers, employees, and shareholders, acknowledging their roles as the primary stakeholders.
Looking ahead, Gaurav envisions a future where every employee is actively engaged in risk management, emphasizing risk as a facilitator rather than just a mitigator.
He envisions risk becoming a crucial element of an organization’s strategy, with technology playing a pervasive role in enabling sustainable growth with comfort.
Gaurav talks about how risk in extended enterprises is not just about the people on the frontline but also includes other stakeholders such as suppliers and distributors.
In his opinion, risk management should be key to every organization’s strategy, and the Chief Risk Officer has to be equally important as the Chief Revenue and Strategy Officer.
Advice to Younger Self
In a reflective moment, Gaurav shares the advice he would give his younger self – to take more risks and make decisions faster.
He encourages a bolder approach, suggesting that faster decisions and a willingness to embrace strategic risks could have accelerated MetricStream’s journey even further.
Storytelling is everything, which is something that Gaurav Kapoor was able to master. Being able to capture the essence of what you are doing in 15 to 20 slides is the key. For a winning deck, take a look at the pitch deck template created by Silicon Valley legend Peter Thiel (see it here), where the most critical slides are highlighted.
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Gaurav Kapoor’s interview provides a compelling narrative of his journey from Delhi to Silicon Valley, outlining the challenges, innovations, and pivotal moments that shaped MetricStream.
His insights into entrepreneurship, adaptability, and the importance of extreme ownership serve as valuable lessons for aspiring business leaders.
MetricStream’s story continues to be a testament to Kapoor’s vision and the company’s commitment to navigating the complex landscape of risk and governance.
- Gaurav Kapoor reflects on growing up in India, navigating its evolving economic landscape, and the promising journey from a middle-class upbringing to becoming an entrepreneur.
- Kapoor’s early career at Citibank exposed him to the entrepreneurial spirit, witnessing the launch of groundbreaking financial products and laying the foundation for his future ventures.
- Moving to Silicon Valley with Citibank, Gaurav played a pivotal role in the early days of fintech, gaining exposure to global developments and setting the stage for MetricStream’s inception.
- Inspired by disruptive technologies and the 2008 financial crisis, Gaurav co-founded MetricStream to address the challenges of integrated Governance, Risk, and Compliance (GRC) in a rapidly changing market.
- MetricStream’s evolution from on-premises to cloud solutions underscores the company’s adaptability, which is driven by customer feedback and a commitment to staying ahead of market trends.
- Kapoor’s transition from CFO to COO and CEO highlights the importance of extreme ownership, emphasizing responsibility for customers, employees, and shareholders as key stakeholders.
- Gaurav envisions a future where risk management is ingrained in every employee’s role, serving as a facilitator for sustainable growth, with technology playing a pervasive role in enabling strategic decision-making.