Investing and Community with Susan Akbapour and Faraj Aalaei
Last week, Katrina Logie interviewed two great minds, Susan and Faraj, at a Fireside Chat hosted for guests of the Sir Victor Hotel, powered by Harbour.Space University.
Susan Akbapour and Faraj Aalaei both moved to the US from Iran. Faraj came at 17 years old, Susan came a few years later after receiving her Bachelor’s in Bio. They met years later in the US, while Susan was a journalist at a magazine that interviewed Faraj about his work in Tech. From there, they fell in love, had a beautiful daughter together, worked hard at their careers and founded Candou, an early stage fund since 2016 to support tech startups.
Candou, in Farsi, means beehive, and like bees, teamwork is important to Susan and Faraj. The pair walk us through their experiences working together. They describe their investment work like being grandparents. They have had their time “changing diapers” as CEOs and founders of tech companies (Susan founded Mavatar and Faraj was CEO at Aquantia). As investors, they are able to do the fun things, like help others achieve their goals instead of being in the nitty gritty of starting their own businesses.
When asked how they function as a team, Susan joked that “she does all the work” and Faraj fervently agreed! In all seriousness, Susan explains that she focuses on the small details while Faraj comes up with the big ideas, they find ways to collaborate with their different skill sets. The pair acknowledge that they have different experiences and have different skills to bring to the table. They choose to invest in things they know they have experience with, like AI and blockchain, and companies that align with their own ideas, passions and mission statements.
Apart from their work together at Candou, inspiring young minds to pursue their businesses, Susan works with an organization called Mothers in Poverty and with How Women Lead and together, they started the Akbapour Aalaei Fellowship Fund to provide financial support to students at Stanford Graduate School of Business.
They describe to us the importance of being involved in your community. Even if you aren’t able to contribute financially, play any part that you can in your community. Susan tells us that “It doesn’t matter what you can do, just do it.” So what are you doing to help your community?