Meet Shambhavi Mishra - who is a VC at Antler Fund, Canada
Our newest feature Immigrants in Tech highlights incredible stories of newcomers who are making a big impact in the Canadian tech ecosystem.
Shambhavi brings an incredible 15+ years of experience in Management Consulting at McKinsey & IBM as well as an established track record as a VC with Times Group and now the Antler Fund. Here, she shares what led her to immigrate to Canada. For her, Canada is a country of diversity, multiculturalism, mutual respect, innovation, has an incredible tech ecosystem, and an abundance of nature. But the number one driving force that led her to immigrate to Canada was to be able to live a life of authenticity.
What's your story?
So, my story as an immigrant is that I come from India from very humble beginnings. I was raised by a very strong woman, my mother who is a social entrepreneur and as a family we were always taught to think big, be ambitious and be financially independent. I was exceptionally good in academics, but after school I used to help her in growing her business, prepare for grant applications and go with her for business meetings. That conditioned my mind as a kid to hustle, to network, and inspired me to make life better for everyone around me.
I started my career as a software engineer and eventually transitioned to become a management consultant at IBM and McKinsey. I traveled the world for work, worked with Fortune 500 companies and moved up the corporate ladder but in my heart, I wanted my work to have a visible impact in entrepreneurship and the innovation economy. So that’s the reason I switched from management consulting to venture capital. I have been in VC for the last 9 years and executed 20+ transactions in consumer tech, enterprise SaaS, gaming, and during that journey I immigrated to Canada.
My reason for immigrating to Canada was all about living a life of authenticity, of being proud of who you are and not being closeted. When I came to Canada, I realized that this is a country which stands for mutual respect, acceptance to immigrants, women, queer, and non-binary people. It felt like home. People have accepted me for who I am, and this has given me such a unique sense of freedom. Of course that came with its own share of challenges, it has not been an easy road but I think if you are smart, if you are a hustler, if you are open minded, if you are not afraid of rejection, and if you are not afraid of putting yourself out there - Canada is a great country for anyone who wants to not only build a career but have a holistic life.
I’ve always been a very adventurous soul. I’ve always been the unconventional kid in the family. I used to do a lot of motorcycling rides in the Himalayas. So, my mom always knew that I would never have an average life story. And amusingly, I have lived true to her fears, and I have proudly lived a very unconventional life. If I look back at my life, I think it’s been a series of dots that I can connect to reach where I am today.
What led you to choose Canada as the place that you wanted to build in?
So, when I was looking at exploring other countries in the world, my criteria were very simple:
Canada is a country that values diversity, multiculturalism, and welcomes immigrants. It is one of safest countries for women, children, and queer people.
The second thing I looked at was the innovation economy. Where could I add maximum value with the skills and experience that I bring? This country has some of the best global tech talent, top universities in North America and there is a lot that can be done. It’s next to a massive venture ecosystem like the US. So, I thought this would be a great opportunity for me to be a part of such an ecosystem and grow with it.
Quality of life and universal health care (irrespective of class or status that you come from) is something that I sincerely considered
And lastly, the abundance of nature, parks, lakes, and the beauty of this country in every province. I am a very nature loving person and even in India, I used to travel almost every year to the mountains. I love all 4 seasons here and make the most of my everyday dog walks with my loud husky, Togo!
What advice do you have for newcomers entering the Canadian tech ecosystem?
To sum it up in one sentence: learn according to the environment, think long term and be open-minded.
Only you can build a better life for yourself. No one else will do it for you. Never be afraid to reach out for help. You will have to knock on many doors. It takes so much humility, and in some cases, it takes going to another country and starting from scratch. In my journey it required me to strip everything that I had achieved in India and walk into rooms where I did not know anyone and introduce myself to people. It was humbling, but it taught me courage. You have to pound the pavement, you have to face rejection and- in a lot of cases- swallow the humility pill.
Make learning a priority. There are ways to improve your communication skills, ways to improve your networking skills. Think about how you engage in the overall cultural diversity of a country. When I first arrived here, I used to volunteer during the weekends. That gave me a sense of feeling that I wasn’t just here to take, but also to give. Volunteering was also a great way to meet some really interesting people. So come with the prerogative to learn and give back to the country as well.
And last but not the least, don’t compare your life to the lives of others. I always remind myself and others not to fall into the trap of thinking “oh, but if I were in India, I would be making this much money or have this lifestyle”. That’s a very negative way of starting a new life. You should look at your life in Canada holistically, rather than focusing on the financial aspect. Consider your overall quality of life and keep reminding yourself if you’re noticing improvements. Is there an improvement in terms of you having access to facilities and access to opportunities? Be open about giving yourself time to settle in a new country. And be okay with failures and imperfections. That’s what makes us human.
So, you must constantly have a growth mindset. When I journal, I often consider whether or not things are contributing to my growth. Be aware of mind blocks as you begin your new life in Canada. Personally, I perceive the meaning of life as having purpose. I am a student of life and for me, life is about constantly unlearning, learning, growing and having that sense of