Interview With Venture Capitalist Turned Comedian Dhaya Lakshminarayanan

Dhaya Lakshminarayanan is an MIT graduate who has gone from a venture capitalist to a comedian. Dhaya has won a competition that is known as the first ever business travel virtual comedy contest.

When Ms. Lakshminarayan was asked what the difference was between being a venture capitalist and a comedian she said “One of them invests time and money doing something that changes people’s lives, and the other is a venture capitalist.

The “Your Time, Your Life, Go Virtual” comedy contest was sponsored by ON24. The contest poked fun at business travel by taking five comedians and having them compete by talking about some of their travel nightmares. More information about the contest can be found here.

“Business travelers see travel as something that interferes with their lives,” said Tricia Heinrich, Senior Director of Strategic Communications at ON24. “We started collecting business travel horror stories.” And “some of them tend to be humorous. The contestants did not know they were being auditioned. Dhaya was the only woman contestant.

After Dhaya graduated from MIT, she worked at one of the top 5 consulting companies. Then she worked at a mutual fund where she was 1 out of 12 people that managed a half a billion fund.

This contest was inspired by recent research that was conducted by ON24 with Harris Interactive. ON24 is a webcasting and virtual events company. According to Harris Interactive’s research, 94% of Americans believe that “bad behaviors” occur among people that travel away from home to attend conventions and trade shows including:

  • Drinking too much alcohol (71%)
  • Cheating on a spouse (66%)
  • Spending too much money (54%)
  • Eating fatty foods (53%)

Ms. Lakshminarayanan has had sold out shows in Atlanta, Boston, L.A., New York, San Francisco, and Silicon Valley. She was also the host of the Emmy Award winning TV series “High School Quiz Show” that premiered on the PBS station at WGBH in 2010. She received a bachelor’s and master’s degree from MIT.

The competition also featured other comedians:  like Ben Kolina, Samson Koletkar, Joe Nguyen, and Gary Anderson. Voting is now closed, but the videos can still be seen at

Lakshminarayanan’s video includes a funny trip out of Houston that involved a screaming baby, 3-alarm chili, and a missing air sickness bag.

“We’ve seen an overwhelming response to this contest, demonstrating that business travel horror stories like these strike a chord with a lot of people,” stated ON24 Chief Marketing Officer Denise Persson. “The contest has been a fun way to call attention to the work/life balance many of us work hard to keep in check every day. At ON24 we’re committed to providing virtual solutions that cut the time people have to stay away from their loved ones so they can make the most out of their lives. While virtual communications will never completely replace face-to-face meetings, they are an invaluable option for companies seeking to reduce costs and employees seeking greater convenience and control over how they spend their time and live their lives.”

Dhaya told me that being a comedian is like being an entrepreneur. They do their own production, marketing, and distribution. They also manage their own finances mostly.

ON24 is a virtual communications platform for global enterprises and provides cloud-based solutions. The ON24 communication platform includes demand generation, partner enablement, training, product launches, company town hall meetings, etc. Over 700 organizations and companies including IBM, Unilever, JPMorgan Chase, Credit Suisse, and Deloitte use ON24. ON24 is headquartered in San Francisco.

This article was written by Amit Chowdhry. You can follow me at @amitchowdhry or on Google+ at
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