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Episode 11

Making Smart Tech Investments with Hitachi Ventures

  • Gayathri Radhakrishnan
  • Partner, Hitachi Ventures
Aired: October 3, 2023

Gayathri Radhakrishnan, Partner at Hitachi Ventures, joins John Cole in this episode of Circuit Talk: Funders and Founders. Through the corporate venture arm of Hitachi, Radhakrishnan helps create partnerships with start-ups, forging relationships with companies ready to scale and deliver value for their industry, the nation, the globe, and Hitachi. From semiconductors to AI, Radhakrishnan operates at the cutting edge of advanced technology, finding unique ways to foster collaborations between Hitachi and start-ups that are mutually beneficial. By making smart tech investments, Hitachi Ventures seeks to fill the gap in the semiconductor ecosystem to better grow our capabilities from lab to fab.

With a keen eye on the impact that technological advancements can have on the global marketplace, this episode features Radhakrishnan and Cole speaking on the importance of making hardware engineering cool again. As she says: “as much as software may be eating the world, that software needs to run on underlying hardware. It’s not magic.” 


Learn more about the work Hitachi Ventures does here: https://www.hitachi-ventures.com/ 

Listen to other episodes of Funders and Founders, as well as our full range of Circuit Talk podcasts, and be sure to subscribe. 

View Transcript


00:09 | John Cole 

Welcome to Circuit Talk: Funders and Founders. I'm John Cole, Senior Manager on the semiconductor team at MITRE Engenuity. We are a nonprofit dedicated to solving problems for a safer world. Our semiconductor team is hard at work meeting the nation's challenges around semiconductor breakthrough technologies and the CHIPS Act. Circuit Talk: Funders and Founders is part of MITRE’s Circuit Talk podcast and video series and it elevates the revolutionary disruptive work being done by semiconductor entrepreneurs and investors. This is an exciting time to be working with semiconductor startups. The nation is waking up to just how critical they are to our national and economic security. We're joined today by Gayathri Radhakrishnan, also known as G, a partner at Hitachi Ventures. Before becoming a partner at Hitachi, Ms. Radhakrishnan invested in startups at Micron Ventures, before that Dell Software an early bird venture capital. Before that, she earned an MBA from INSEAD, and before that, and MS in electrical engineering from Ohio State. Ms. Radhakrishnan has also worked at a handful of startups of her career. And despite having this full-time corporate role we're going to talk about she's still serves as a mentor and a partner to a few startups, currently. So, welcome, G, thank you so much for joining us. 


01:23 | Gayathri Radhakrishnan 

Thank you, John. Thanks for having me. It's, I’m excited. 


01:27 | John Cole 

We're excited to talk about semiconductors and excited to talk about investing. So maybe you can just give us a high-level overview, you know, about Hitachi Ventures and how you got there and how your career kind of led you there. 


01:39 | Gayathri Radhakrishnan 

Thanks, John. So, for Hitachi Ventures, we are the corporate venture arm of Hitachi, we are set up as a fund, we manage about 600 million AUM or assets under management. The interesting thing is for us, Hitachi is a single LP in our fund. In terms of areas of interest for us, we look at four broad verticals, we look at mobility, industry manufacturing, we look at healthcare, we look at green and sustainability, and this includes energy power, and so on. And then horizontally, we look at a broad range of technologies that enable digital transformation. So, that's a pretty broad bucket. We look at, you know, the latest and greatest trends in AI/ML, generative AI, I have to say that, we also look at other areas, you know, edge networking 5G, so we look at the infrastructure, infrastructure, software and enterprise software, anything that enables digital transformation that's a big part of sort of Hitachi and our ventures team focus in terms of both verticals and the horizontal that we look at. We're very excited to work with early-stage startups, we typically look at series A through C, series C, we can extend either early or later if we think that strong strategic relevance for Hitachi as well. And we are happy to lead rounds or follow rounds, we are very active investors. 


03:01 | John Cole 

So, that's a great description there. When you look at the breadth of what you're sort of investing in, started out by aiming for vertical categories and breaking it out pretty wide. How does that all tie together is this so this is Hitachi strategic fund, investing in the future or building a new vertical for Hitachi? What are you all trying to do? 


03:21 | Gayathri Radhakrishnan 

Interestingly enough, John, after I joined, I knew that Hitachi as a conglomerate was large. But after I joined, I found out that Hitachi has over 800 subsidiaries. So, we cover everything from there is Hitachi power, there's Hitachi Energy, Hitachi Rail, Hitachi High-Tech, which also touches semiconductor, by the way. And we also have storage in systems with Hitachi Vantara, and also engineering services through our acquisition of GlobalLogic. So, we pretty much touch every area that we cover. So, while as an investor, we don't require business unit sponsorship, and so on, what we do look for a strategic relevance for Hitachi. How can we enable open innovation? Will the startup that we're working with help, you know, help Hitachi or can, can Hitachi help the startup either in the near term or long term, and we collaborate very closely with various organizations within Hitachi, including Hitachi R&D. And there is an open innovation arm within Hitachi called the corporate venturing office who we work with very closely in terms of enabling those collaborations with the startup ecosystem. So, you asked is it in terms of new business? I would say it's a combination, it could be new business, but it's also around bringing that external innovation in or ideas and helping that, you know, startup pace in a large establishment like Hitachi, right, the more they work or talk to startups, we hope to bring that feverish sort of intensity within a large organization like Hitachi. 


04:53 | John Cole 

That's a you know, I've never heard you mentioned Rail. Didn't think of that right. But have you Have you all done any Rail deals? I've never asked that question before. 


05:05 | Gayathri Radhakrishnan 

We've not done rail deals. But interestingly, when I, based on I've not talked to Hitachi Rail directly, but based on the conversations I've had with my colleagues, they're one of the very forward looking they, we are actually working on some projects. Hitachi Rail is working on some projects in in the US are multiple projects in the US as well. And they're building sort of the next generation manufacturing plant around Hitachi Rail, right. But that said, interestingly, they don't think of rail as just rail, they think of rail as an enabler for mobility. So, they look at the end-to-end, a train system or railway system takes you from point A to point B, but not from your starting destination to endpoint. So, they ask us to look at things from an even last mile perspective, how can we get the customer from their home to the station, and then from their station to the destination, and that may not happen through Hitachi Rail or the rail specifically, but it happens through building out the ecosystem, right? From cars to, you know, other forms, right? It could be EV tall, or whatever it is, but that end to end think, and which is very novel for a large company as well. They're not just thinking about the product that they're selling, they're thinking about the pain point that they're solving for the customer, right, which is what we tell all our startups to do so, it's nice to kind of see that reflected in large organization, 


06:31 | John Cole 

You know, in that end-to-end advantage, or the end-to-end sort of platform is a platform that startups wouldn't normally get. Right. That's, that's really, and kind of brings me to my sort of question. Let's say your team completes a deal with a startup. How are you involved afterwards? How does Hitachi sort of support your startup portfolio? Or what can a startup expect by engaging Hitachi? 


06:53 | Gayathri Radhakrishnan 

Got it. So, two ways to think of that one is purely from an investor perspective, because they're set up as a fund. So we are not a cost center for Hitachi, we are a revenue center. So, we need to make sure that we are self-sustainable, every founder of ours needs to be financially successful. So, in that sense, we are very much aligned with the founder in ensuring their startup success and their success. And we want to be active investors. So, we are not hesitant to take board seats, either board director or board observer seats. We help make introductions, just like every what every other VC would do. But then the second aspect is What does Hitachi bring to the table? We actually think we are very uniquely differentiated by from other VCs, because we have this power of this big 800 plus subsidiary, you know, company that's global in nature with presence across the world. And how do we support, how can we bring the power of Hitachi to the startups? Three ways in my mind, one is Hitachi as a customer, so between the 800 subsidiaries and the areas that we touch, you know, we could be a customer for any startup in some form or shape. So, that's one angle. The second one is a go to market partner. Again, there are there are companies within Hitachi, one of the subsidiaries is called Hitachi solutions. They have a scouting team that's based in the valley that actually looks for startups that they can take to Japan, right. So, we can collaborate, we can put them put our startups in touch with Hitachi Solutions, or even other groups. I'm using Hitachi Solutions as an example. So essentially go to market access to not just Japan but also other parts of the world to Hitachi. And finally, we as I mentioned earlier, we acquired this company called Global Logic, which is in design lead engineering services from every startup, especially in early stage startup, trying to get qualified engineering teams that can build a product is important. And Global Logic is not focused on IP generation, they, they're just purely focused on product building. So the company that they work with owns the IP, and they just build a product, they're their strong engineering team. The benefit of something like this is while you may hire engineers to focus on some of the core IP of your company, there are so many other things that you may have to do like integrations, for instance, with 20 other ERP systems or manufacturing systems and so on that that does not add value to your core IP, but it's critical for go to market. So if you can leverage an existing arm of, you know, engineering team that can help, you are a one stop shop where you can go acquire this as opposed to trying to go find your own sort of, again, these are not things that we push on our startups, but we offer as, you know, different sort of opportunities for them to engage with Hitachi and collaborate. 


09:48 | John Cole 

You're trying to find and connect with startups just as they're about to go to scale to go to market or, and help them sort of go from their initial core IP out to other customers. Is that right? 


10:01 | Gayathri Radhakrishnan 

Absolutely. And we actually go early as well, right? Because we started series A. So, there may not always be a situation where the startup is suitable just because of the early stage nature, but we nurture them, we create the awareness that they exist, and try to drive collaborations within the company so that as they mature, those, you know, relationships exist. And so that can turn into potential partnership of whatever form going forward. 


10:28 | John Cole 

That's great. In previous roles, you're one of the few brave investors looking at semiconductor deals. And the US, as we like to talk about on the show, we used to lead in this space, hence the name Silicon Valley. But somewhere along the way, VCs are all became focused on software, and I guess AI now. So just, you know, rolling back to your previous days, as a semiconductor investor, I know you're still investing in hard tech companies and deep tech companies, however you want to sort of encapsulate that name. Why do you think more VCs aren't sort of flocking into that space? 


11:01 | Gayathri Radhakrishnan 

It's a great question. And in terms of semiconductor investing, let me also call out that we do look at semiconductors as well at Hitachi, because of Hitachi High-Tech. But that said, it has become a little bit of a lost art. I think for a couple of reasons, in my in my opinion. First and foremost, I wouldn't say it's completely gone away, I think we saw a resurgence in sort of semiconductor investing when AI chips came to the forefront, maybe five, six years ago. And we are seeing some of the leading what we perceive as software companies like Facebook and, or Meta I should say, and Amazon and Google and others sort of going deeper into the hardware stack. And they it's amazing the number of hardware engineers, these companies are hiring as well. So, I would say that semiconductor and hardware investing is definitely making a comeback. But what are the issues? I think a lot of the movement has become towards software, because also understanding what is the life cycle of these semiconductor companies? What does an exit look like for some of these companies? Because the challenges they face are very hard. Again, you know, there's geopolitical issues in terms of where do they where do they set up their manufacturing facilities? Understanding all of that, you know, and trying to kind of figure out scale? How are these companies going to scale with the workforce that we have, if they're going to be based in the US? Or if they're going to be based in some other part of the world? What does the exit scenarios look like? I think those are all, and along the way to get to the exit, what is the capital requirement? Because again, from a fund perspective, we have seen that markets been pretty volatile, at least in the last few years, right. When COVID happened, you saw like a serious drop immediately, but then it bounced back almost to the extreme where in 2021, you saw frothy valuations. Now there's again, some pullback, quite significant pullback almost. So VCs also have to keep in mind that these are longer term tenure kind of investments, right when you're investing like a fund, and not get caught up in the short term sort of vagaries but while it's easy to say we have, we do have to think about it because these companies, if they are capital intensive, they have to keep going back to the market to fundraise. And if they're not the topic du jour, then they lose steam in their fundraise process, right. And that's always a catch while these companies can be, you know, while we invest for the 10 year cycle, we do need to keep in mind the short term vagaries in the market from a fundraising standpoint. So, I think those are all some of the reasons at least that I've seen, there's a hesitance. 


13:42 | John Cole 

You bring up a couple of interesting points there. I mean, that I think that we, we have a very strong base and a growing base of folks that are doing sort of fabless design, right. And maybe that's driven by the AI market and sort of the new need for niche and then mobile and these other sort of applications that are coming out that need custom processors. And some of the challenges that I think I've been trying to find folks that are either working on something unique either in terms of materials or hardware or metrology or some of the further, further down the process line innovations. But certainly, the idea of stacking risk is I think, something that we're starting to think about and talk about more least at MITRE. And when you look at this software, you're you have a very controlled stack of risks to some degree. And oftentimes, the technical pathway is already figured out, right? So, you've more or less eliminated that technical risk. The geopolitical risk is new and as you said, like increasingly volatile the last two years for a company that may have to straddle the Pacific or, or somehow operate there and in Europe and everywhere else. It's just a lot I think, for investors to kind of take on. When you when you think about all of those risks, though, and what sort of missing in the ecosystem from a public sector point of view, you have any advice and maybe a way for the government to engage and how to nurture that ecosystem around those risks and get more folks into semiconductors to pay more capital into semiconductors? 


15:08 | Gayathri Radhakrishnan 

One of the things as we know, there's a lot of, think about break down the semiconductor ecosystem into like the various value chain. But, if you think about the end product, which is the chip, but then I'm sure John, you're you're aware of this trend. The recent years there's a lot of discussion around chiplets. Alright, and chiplets is when you're stacking multiple, smaller instead of like having this larger footprint smaller, I almost think of it like Lego blocks, being able to assemble them together. But just like building a Lego, the instructions around packaging, and how you get into the form that you need are important. So, packaging is an important aspect, right? How much of the packaging expertise resides in the US? So, yeah, exactly. So immediately, people go, when we think about semiconductor manufacturing, people go down to like, either the manufacturing itself, you know, the workforce around manufacturing, or the end product, but then there's to so many intermediate steps around testing packaging, you know, the front end back end, there's so many elements to sort of semiconductor development, especially if you're building them from scratch. I think understanding, where are the gaps in the ecosystem? How can we enable those gaps? How can we foster sort of the next generation to think about those interesting career paths? Right, I think those are becoming important. How can we make the uncool cool and sexy again, right? Not as much as software, maybe eating the world, that software needs to run on some underlying hardware, it's not magic, right. So that is, so that's a hardware engineering can be pretty, pretty interesting. But how do we make that appealing? How do we create that value? In the in every aspect, 


17:01 | John Cole 

It's another challenge that we talk about frequently, where the sort of the branding around your work, your workforce development and the branding around the job of going to work in the semiconductor, in the semiconductor verticals, it has to start early. And it has been sort of eclipsed by just by software and by AI for the moment. But but when you look at level deeper, right, you really need that the semiconductor to run on. So, Hitachi Ventures seem to be focusing on sustainable startups, I saw you spoke at efficient generative AI summit recently. What's driving that focus for Hitachi? It sounds like it's going to apply across the whole value chain. Is that right? 


17:44 | Gayathri Radhakrishnan 

So, absolutely, sustainability is part of the focus for us. But the way I the way I think about it is Hitachi as a company is very much behind social innovation. And sustainability is as a core part of how they operate. I, if I'm not mistaken, they believe kind of in the power of changing how people live by the data and the technology that they use, and being able to do that in a very sustainable way. Right. And that means that every step of the product that you build, you think about it from a sustainable fashion. I was very intrigued to kind of read about how they're even thinking about the impact, Hitachi’s impact on the planetary boundaries and how what they can do within their power to manage. And so that means it's, yeah in terms of tipping points that we can see in, in planetary conditions that can tap into, like climate change and other things. Right. So, it was very impressive to see responsible corporate citizenship coming outside in. So, as a citizen of the world, how do we think about how does Hitachi contribute to the global sort of footprint from a sustainability standpoint? How are we impacting it? And what can we do to be as sustainable, enable a sustainable future or a sustainable society is something that's important. So, that means every aspect, every vertical that I mentioned, including the digital transformation piece, that becomes a core aspect. So, for instance, we've invested in a company called Makersite and maker side basically helps every step of the way, when we think about product building. How can we make that sustainable, so just not like end result, but just even the product building standpoint, right. And there are collaborations between Hitachi and the startup to enable that. So that's one example that I can think of carbon, decarbonization is very important. So, we have made quite a few investments in that area, as well. So… 


19:51 | John Cole 

Yeah, we think of the sort of breadth that Hitachi, that Hitachi has and how many touch points it has within manufacturing. Then across just so many industries, right has a lot of opportunity to run and to have impact on everything. So, when you think about sustainable process, maybe if we kind of pivot back to semiconductor for a second, what's, what's going to drive sustainability in semiconductors? And the reason I asked is because a lot of the CHIPS Act in semiconductor manufacturing back to the US is the government trying to focus on sustainable process, maybe in sustainable, just about sustainable everything from a semiconductor point of view, best approach for commerce or industry to sort of get us there? 


20:33 | Gayathri Radhakrishnan 

No, so there's two ways to think about sustainability. One is the you know, the product that you produce, how sustainable will it be, and I think this whole move towards, when you think about the amount of compute that we have compressing, you know, into into a chip, we are definitely becoming much better at it. But the second thing that we all talk about from a semiconductor sustainability standpoint, is essentially around the scope one, scope two emissions, right. So, either in terms of the gases that are emitted as a part of the process, and around the electricity, that are energy consumption that goes into the manufacturing process. I think every semiconductor company is very actively thinking about it from gases to water, you know, water purification, recycling of the water, so many aspects of those. And also, from an energy consumption standpoint, there's a lot of automation that's going on, in terms of, you know, smart manufacturing to enable, you know, to drive down that cost as well. It's such a critical part of our infrastructure that when, when there is a power outage, obviously, that that the impact is pretty phenomenal. So, how do they think about predictive maintenance? How do they make sure that the energy consumed is also sustainable? So, I know there's a recent movement in that direction, and there are a lot of startups that are starting to cater to those. And to me, what's exciting is, I don't think we need to create something very specific to semiconductor I think we can take a we can take existing technology, and extend that to semiconductor, I think that makes it even more appealing. As an investor, I like to see startups have, you know, broader potential than one specific market. So, and I think it's possible with today's technologies, right. And so, this wave of sustainability in semiconductors is, is positive in two fronts expands the potential for existing startups to get into semiconductor to leverage existing sort of solutions. And I think there is an end-to-end awareness. And what do I mean by end to end, not only are the manufacturing companies, semiconductor manufacturing companies putting out goals around sustainability, but also the consumers of the semiconductor come, you know, outputs like chips and so on. They are also asking for certain sustainability requirements, right, because they are trying to get to a zero-carbon footprint. And so, they want to make sure their value chain or their supply chain is also equally sustainable. And so there is a push and pull that's happening on both sides, which, which I think is the ideal. There's the regulatory requirements, the companies themselves wanting to be socially responsible, and then the customers also demanding the same.  


23:19 | John Cole 

What's interesting is it kind of took us saying, ‘well, what does the government have to do to do this’, but you're saying is a lot of this a lot of these ESG goals, and a lot of these process improvements are really being driven by by customer demand, like customers are asking for it, for their own reasons, and manufacturers are kind of responding, responding to that. So… 


23:38 | Gayathri Radhakrishnan 

I personally think so I think regulation has a place. But I don't think regulation can solve everything. So just because there is a mandate doesn't make, because if your customer, if your end customer, basically is cost sensitive, and if regulation makes the process, the price is higher, they'll go wherever, right, so to get the product. So, you have to take into account every constituency. And so it may act as a trigger or a seed to get that, you know, process in motion. But I don't think that that's kind of sufficient than every other element needs to come together. And my biggest sort of my personal opinion, is that the first wave of kind of sustainability focused investment was not a big success, because it was very heavily regulatory driven. Oh, you know, there's regulation. So, every company is going to try to meet that. That's not always successful. I think the current wave has a better chance because as I've mentioned, it's coming from end user to the customer to government and companies themselves wanting to be more social, socially responsible. When all of those things come together. I think there's a better chance of solving these issues then, when only there's one trigger alone.  


24:53 | John Cole 

Yeah, certainly multiple forces will make it a lot easier. But I agree with what you're saying there. My personal opinion is government is, when they set a regulation, they're really just they're setting a bar and kind of get over that bar. But if you're, if it's actually being driven by customer demand, then the sky's the limit, right? You can exactly push people further faster. So… 


25:12 | Gayathri Radhakrishnan 

And it drives innovation as well, right? Because now you're forced to think beyond sort of that minimum bar, you're actually saying, hey, I want to be better than that, right? How can I innovate or out innovate my competitors, because once there's a bar, everyone's aiming for the bar, now you have to position yourself better than your, than the other players. That's where innovation, real innovation happens as well.  


25:35 | John Cole 

That’s right, that's right. Hitachi has had this huge role as one of these industrial giants of bringing up industrial IoT to where it is. And we talked a little bit about process improvements, and how it's sort of meeting sustainability goals, it's a lot of it will be driven by just more sensors everywhere manufacturing, and data processing, and new, new processes that sort of emerged out of that. But along with that sort of connectivity, you get these, you know, not only these efficiency gains in production, but you also get a pretty big increasing cyber target or footprint, right? Wherever you have that plant equipment. I'm sure Hitachi is looking at that a lot. How are you thinking about investing in that space? 


26:14 | Gayathri Radhakrishnan 

It's a very key area of focus and investment for Hitachi Ventures, as you rightly pointed out, Hitachi is kind of viewed as an industrial giant, right, which basically means there's very strong legacy of operational technology, or OT, that's kind of in our DNA. And that there we have a strong expertise and knowledge and, and over time, we have also become a powerhouse or have strong strengths or information technology or IT. We think in, as you talked about, with industrial OT, that's a great opportunity to bring that IT expertise and the OT knowledge that we have, and our OT, operational technology DNA that we have to bring something unique and differentiated to the market. So, that's something that we actively look for, how can we look at and in this day and age where the technology is evolved, where data is the new oil, or whatever you want to call it data is the new gold there is we look at the data that we have accumulated over, over almost more than a century now to say, how can we bring something unique and differentiated to the market? How can we leverage our DNA in the operational technology and our emerging strength in the IT in our products in the products we build? So, it's not just another me too product, but also can we work with startups in that fashion, to bring that expertise to create something new that makes a lot of value, brings a lot of value for for our customers. And, I think if anything, all this AI machine learning, it has also created an awareness around cybersecurity, right? People, while security was something that was that everyone's that's in the back of your mind, it's kind of like insurance, right? You want to have it but it's not always top of mind. You think of it as a worst-case scenario, I want to have health insurance in case I get into an accident or something happens. Security kind of fell into that kind of domain, it was viewed as something super critical. But sometimes, sadly, an afterthought. But I think with AI machine learning sort of emergence and kind of the potential for it to disrupt, I think cybersecurity has gained a lot more importance and relevance. And people kind of realize that it cannot be an afterthought. It needs to be built into how you build the product, right. So, in terms of because your exposure or your attack vector has a lot, a lot more surface area now, like you rightly pointed out. So, we need to think about it from a product standpoint, just like how I mentioned about in, including sustainability in how you think about the product, I think security needs to be something that that should be thought through from day one as you build a product, as opposed to an afterthought. And that's where we are actively looking at startups in terms of how can, how can they help us? How can we protect our IP but also enable that IP to drive, you know, better superior products in the market? 


29:16 | John Cole 

Yeah, and certainly protect that infrastructure to, Right, so we were just talking about trains and all the other industrial… 


29:21 | Gayathri Radhakrishnan 

Critical infrastructure, right power, any power grids energy?  


29:26 | John Cole 

Exactly. And you're spot on it, you start protecting that from the moment you're designing yet that's that's, that's really needed at this point. So got a young engineer now. She's graduating from college, and she sort of is looking at possibly to go and work for a software company possibly to go work for Hitachi. What do you tell that person go get an MBA do both come work for Hitachi? 


29:50 | Gayathri Radhakrishnan 

As someone who has worked for really large corporations and really small startups and have an MBA. I have obviously some thoughts and opinions. I, I think working at a startup was immensely beneficial. I started off my career working in a large corporation, I think there are, there are very strong sort of value proposition that each of them bring to the table. Large corporation by nature tends to be process driven, because the process actually helps them, you know, respond better. When you're in a large organization, you can't have 20 different people going in 20 different directions, or, I should add 20,000 people going in 20,000 different directions, you need to have them go work together as a team and kind of move, move the ship forward, right. And so, it gives you a lot of structure and sort of some process-oriented thinking. And that's very critical for scaling, right? Now, a startup can be ad hoc in the beginning, but as they scale, those processes allow them to be, you know, more efficient going forward. While they may seem like a pain. A startup, a very young startup, on the other hand, is also a great learning opportunity. Because when I joined my startup, I pretty much I was doing product marketing, product management. But I also rolled up my sleeves and wrote technical reports for my engineers, when they did, you know, product testing and had to, you know, we had, so you, you learn to set aside, and when you're a fresh graduate, it's not like you have a lot of ego. But it fosters that learning environment, you're willing to kind of roll up your sleeves and say, oh, I'm going to learn about this, today, I'm going to wear an engineering hat. And tomorrow, I'm going to talk to a customer. So, it gives you that breadth in terms of exposure to multiple disciplines, which is hard to do in a corporate because everyone's again, that process puts you in a bucket and sometimes you're like, okay, I'm all I do is marketing, and I'm going to be really good at that, or all I do is engineering, and I'm really good at that. So, from a breath standpoint, you get that exposure you get, you get thrown into the deep end a little bit. And you have to like sink or swim, you figure out okay, how does it work, Right? So, I think there are pros and cons to both. In a young sort of career, I think the startup is great, because it tests your mettle, you kind of learn what you're good at and what you're not. And it also allows you to almost think of it as a rotation program, you get an exposure to every aspect of the company. And you can see which one appeals to you more, if you're much more of a structured person, you may say, hey, I want to go into engineering. Whereas if you're more of the, you know, I like talking to my customers and you know, then you may want to go into the sales or product management. So, it can give you that and then that discipline early on potentially or not discipline, the ability to kind of get a flavor for each of those early on beside your option. And to your question around an MBA, maybe, maybe a controversial, I have nothing against MBAs, but I also think about MBAs like AI/ML where everything is like today about AI/ML, I think MBA is a tool to get you to a point, right? Think about what you're trying to achieve. And if MBA is the right tool to get you there. So, if, if it requires if your end goal requires you to do an MBA, then I'm all for it. But if your end goal is to be like a technical fellow, in a in a company, then MBA doesn't make sense. So, it really comes down to what is your, and then any educational degree that you do is just a tool to help you get there. 


33:29 | John Cole 

Yeah. Oh, that's great advice. Thank you. Gayathri Radhakrishnan, thank you so much for coming on to Founders and Funders. It was a pleasure to talk to you. And it's great to hear about Hitachi Ventures and what you all are doing in the industrial space. Thank you. 


33:43 | Gayathri Radhakrishnan 

John, thank you so much for having me. I really enjoy the conversation. So, looking forward to seeing more talking more to you guys. Thank you.