No ordinary life this. As part of YourStory’s 'I’m Possible' storytelling series, VC Puneet Kumar of Nexus Venture Partners shares his story of resilience – of overcoming the many odds life has thrown at him, from personal tragedies to language barriers, and financial challenges.Tenzin Pema
Puneet Kumar’s story is no ordinary one. His is the story of a boy from a small town in Rajasthan with a passion and zest for life that has helped him thrive despite the many tests and trials life has thrown his way.
Today, Puneet is a prominent face in the Indian venture capital space, and his story is the first in YourStory’s ‘I’m Possible’ storytelling series. As part of this series, we bring you the extraordinary and inspirational stories of people who’ve overcome insurmountable odds in the hope that they inspire you to persevere and maintain your resolve in the face of difficulties.
Indeed, Puneet’s is one such story that has the power to inspire many entrepreneurs. In an interaction with YourStory, the Vice President at Indian venture capital firm Nexus Venture Partners told us how he survived personal tragedies, language barriers, and financial challenges.
Watch the first interview from YourStory’s ‘I’m Possible’ video series, where Puneet Kumar, VP, Nexus Venture Partners, shares his personal story with YourStory Founder and CEO Shradha Sharma.
Puneet’s roots are in Sri Karanpur, a town of farmers and small-scale entrepreneurs in Rajasthan. Life was simple and carefree then, without the pressure to excel in his studies or take part in any extra-curricular activities.
Growing up in the sweltering heat of Rajasthan, Puneet recalls how the ink from his pen would smudge the paper he wrote on. Or how no one complained or thought anything of having to drink from a water tank that had dry leaves and insects in it.
“That's how life was and, in that moment, it did not feel unnatural,” he says.
However, in that ‘simple’ time of his life, Puneet experienced the first test of his resilience, when he unexpectedly lost his father. This ‘turning point’ in his life also gave him a newfound realisation of the importance of family support in times of adversity and of the significance of family values.
His subsequent tests came in the form of language barriers that he faced when studying engineering at IIT Madras. At the time, Puneet was not fluent in English, but he overcame this hurdle by working to improve his communication skills at every given opportunity.
“In your life, there will be things that you are not good at and you need to be self-aware and be okay with the things you’re not good at. The first thing to self-improvement is acceptance. Until you accept it, you can’t improve.”
At IIT Madras, it became clear to Puneet that learning and exposure were the most important things, prompting him to try his hand at entrepreneurship before working at Shell and subsequently landing a fellowship to pursue an MBA at Stanford GSB.
Puneet says, “I encourage everyone to accept their circumstances. There are times when I have been very frustrated with my life, and life has thrown me so many curveballs. But having said that, 95 percent of the time, I get up and feel good about the world and say, let's go!”
True to his word, whether it was the early tests that he faced or the more recent poignant loss of his brother, Puneet has bounced back from every setback he has faced, thanks to values he learnt from his late father – "live life on your own terms and never complain to anyone when things don’t go your way."
Still, losing his brother three years ago was ‘the lowest point’ of his life and this prompted his early return to India. At the time, Puneet was working with McKinsey, where he led projects that helped companies bring new and disruptive technologies to market in the US, Europe, and India.
Since his return home, Puneet has been a part of India’s growth story. At Nexus Venture Partners, Puneet combines his interest in both technology and investing, working alongside entrepreneurs and innovators who are creating disruptive technologies that have the power to transform many lives.
“India is changing and it’s changing so rapidly. The internet, although in its infancy here, is taking away barriers between us all and making us equal. That gives me the motivation that there's so much to be done in the next 10 years that it's going to be an exciting ride,” Puneet says.
Indeed, Puneet’s excitement is evidence enough of his outlook towards life – seeing the many possibilities in even the toughest of circumstances. An outlook he poignantly sums up with this poker analogy.
“I look at life like this: when you play poker and a hand is dealt to you, you can't change the two cards which you are given at the start, but you have the power to play the game the way you want to.”