Karl Mehta is a serial entrepreneur, author, investor, engineer, and civil servant with over 20 years of experience in founding, building, and funding technology companies in the U.S. and international markets. He is currently Founder & CEO of EdCast Inc., a next-generation knowledge platform company and former venture partner at Menlo Ventures, a leading VC firm of Silicon Valley with over $4B under management. Previously, he was the Founder & CEO of PlaySpan Inc., acquired by Visa Inc. (NYSE:V), the world’s largest payment network.
Karl also served as a White House Presidential Innovation Fellow, selected by the Obama Administration during the inaugural 2012-13 term. He was recently appointed by Governor Brown to the Workforce Investment Board of the State of California. In 2010, Karl won the “Entrepreneur of the Year” award from Ernst & Young for Northern California and awarded “Tech Pioneer” by the World Economic Forum (WEF). Karl is on the boards of Simpa Networks and on the advisory board of Intel Capital and Chapman University’s Center of Entrepreneurship.
M.R. Rangaswami: What has changed in terms of Corporate education in the last 15 months – what are Enterprises looking for?
Karl Mehta: Enterprises are facing skills-shortage at a crisis level. As you know, Covid has accelerated digital transformation by 5-10 years and adoption of AI/ML, Robotics, etc with 4th industrial revolution has fundamentally changed how and where work gets performed, the nature work itself and skills required to execute on work. Skills is not just the new currency in enterprise but the operating system for execution and competitiveness to survive and thrive.
At EdCast we pioneered AI/ML based Skills taxonomy/ ontologies for the future of work and build “future-ready” workforce for some of the most prestigious Fortune2000 companies and we are seeing over 100% growth in demand globally. Governments in various countries including here in US are now engaged with us building nationwide workforce transformation as it is the foundation to create jobs and attract new industries. So overall, we are in the era of “upskilling and reskilling revolution”
M.R.: What motivated you to become involved with the BharCap SPAC?
Karl: I spent 10 years in FinTech as an entrepreneur building the first virtual currency wallet company (before Bitocoin was invented), which was acquired by VISA and then working at VISA gave me a great understanding of the overall landscape of financial services. Post- VISA, I’ve been an active early investor in various FinTech companies such as PayClip (sold to General Atlantic), 21.co (acquired by Coinbase) and others.
I believe in the power of SPAC as an alternative capital and route to public market for entrepreneurs, so I partnered with a group of very deeply respected investors and operators in the financial services industry to create one of the largest SPAC in FinTech. We are seeing great response and we have opportunity to help build several multi-billion dollars companies in the FinTech space.
M.R.: You wrote Financial Inclusion at the bottom of the Pyramid in 2015 – what has changed since then, what can we do to make more progress?
Karl: The idea of the book on financial inclusion came right after I had spent a year at the White House as Presidential Innovation fellow and working closely with USAID and the State Department in their developing countries impact work. I saw a lot of waste of money in aid done in traditional methods that are not scalable and not producing the level of impact we need fast enough to lift over 2 billion people form the bottom of the pyramid. In the book, we have a number of technology recommendations including Bitcoins/ Blockchain (when nobody believed in it☺), Banking as a Service (BaaS), Micro-lending platforms etc that are all revolutionary ideas.
Since then we are seeing many of our recommendations from the book being implemented by countries specially in Africa and many colleges are using the book as a text book/ required reading in social entrepreneurship courses. It is deeply fulfilling that our research and recommendation in the book is helping the people who needs the most help.