Pear VC: This Firm Runs An Early-Stage Bootcamp And Invests Over $800 Million Across 4 Funds

By Amit Chowdhry ● Aug 23, 2023

Pear VC is a venture firm that specializes in pre-seed and seed rounds. And the firm partners with founders at the earliest stages to turn great ideas into category-defining companies. Pulse 2.0 interviewed Pear partner Ajay Kamat to learn more.

Ajay Kamat’s Background

Kamat focuses on fintech, digital health, and web3. And Kamat said:

“I first joined the Pear family as a portfolio company founder. I was previously CEO and Co-founder of Wedding Party, a company I scaled and ran for five years before selling to Instacart. I then joined Pear in 2015. I help run PearX and work closely with our portfolio founders as they are just getting off the ground and finding product market fit.”

Evolution Of Pear’s Thesis

How has Pear’s thesis evolved since being formed? Kamat shared:

“We’ve always been early-stage specialists. As we’ve grown and raised larger funds, we can now write bigger checks, but we’re still focused exclusively on pre-seed and seed investing, and our investment philosophy and approach haven’t changed. At pre-seed, we’re first looking at the market (opportunity) and team (insight into the opportunity). At a company’s earliest stage, there is typically little proof of product-market fit. Many companies we’ve backed haven’t yet developed a full product and, as a result, have no actual customers. What’s important is that the founders have a good hypothesis – an insight to build a company in a large market.”

Challenges Faced

What challenges has Kamat faced in building Pear, and has the current macroeconomic climate had any effect? Kamat noted:

“Unicorns get funded every year independent of macroeconomics. It’s a great time to start a seed company. Despite market turmoil, seed is very far from IPO. Companies built today have more discipline, are more focused, and have more access to top-notch talent. We are also witnessing a platform change with AI.”

Favorite Memory

What has been Kamat’s favorite memory working for Pear so far? Kamat reflected:

“Working at Pear has been an incredible journey with many memorable moments. One of the things I love most about Pear is the team I get to work with. We band together to do a lot, and no task is too small for anyone on the team. “

“On one of our demo days, the lighting was off at the venue, and we were at a loss as to what to do. One of our partners miraculously found a rickety ladder on the property, and three people held the base so he could climb up and hook a new light to the ceiling. It was just a sight to be seen. We take the same approach to our work with founders, doing everything we can to help them be successful.”

“It was also unforgettable to witness Pear’s first IPO with DoorDash and subsequently see my partners Pejman and Mar joining the Forbes Midas List.”

Significant Milestones

What have been some of Pear’s most significant milestones? Kamat cited:

“I would say raising our most recent Fund IV, which was oversubscribed at $432M, was a huge milestone for us. I joined Pear when it was just Pejman and Mar. We’re now a team of 26. We’ve collectively founded over ten companies and invested early in startups now worth over $50 billion.

“We also have a deep investment bench of experts, with specialists in fields like AI, biotech, fintech, and more. And we also have a platform team with experts across hiring, marketing, engineering, and sales. For example, something we promise any company that comes on board is that we will help them make their earliest and most critical hires. We have Matt on our team, who was the former head of talent at Instacart. His team is already making huge impact to our startups. “

Investment Success Stories

Would you like to share any specific investment success stories? Kamat highlighted:

“One of the best parts of this job is seeing a company go from the idea stage with two founders and no product into a real company with customers and a large team. We see this the most frequently with our pre-seed companies who go through our PearX program. Now, nearly 100 companies have gone through the early-stage boot camp, 12 are worth over $100 million, and one is valued at over $1 billion. Some examples are Affinity,, Cardless, Nova Credit, Xilis, Federato. “

“Our pre-seed companies participate in PearX. We also have PearX for AI, a track of PearX tailored for founders building in the AI space. Through the PearX boot camp, we help our founders build the right product, find product-market fit, and lay the foundations for a scalable venture company. Typical pre-seed check sizes are $250k-$5 million. No idea is too early to bring to us.”

Assets Under Management

Are you able to discuss total AUM or any other notable metrics? Kamat revealed that the firm is investing over $800 million across four funds.

Industry Focus

What are some of the industries that Pear is focused on? Kamat replied:

“We invest in the following market segments: consumer, enterprise, SaaS, AI, deep tech, climate tech, biotech and life sciences, healthcare, and fintech.”

Differentiation From Other Venture Firms

What differentiates Pear from other venture firms? Kamat affirmed:

“Culture is at the heart of Pear’s success. We have a clearly defined set of core values & beliefs that help us succeed in the right way. Just to name a few of those, we give before we ask anything in return, we bring a can-do mentality to everything, we value “we over me”, and we’re always honest and candid.”

Future Goals

What are some of Pear’s future goals? Kamat concluded:

“Our vision for Pear is to be the best seed stage VC firm in the world. We care deeply about legacy, because we are building Pear for the next 100+ years. For this reason, when we make a decision, we strive to maximize the long-term impact for our founders, LPs, and team.”