Brian Sheth is a self-made billionaire and philanthropist whose name is well-known in Austin, Texas and across the country. He has worked in financial services since graduating from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School in the 1990s. By 2015, Sheth had earned the distinction as one of the most successful entrepreneurs under age 40 by Forbes Magazine.
Despite his vast success, things have not always come easy for Brian Sheth. He certainly remembers what it was like as a new entrepreneur launching a business. As the son of an Indian immigrant father and an Irish Catholic mother, he grew up in a working-class family like most of his peers in Boston. Brian Sheth appreciates the opportunities he has had over the years and now spends his time in philanthropic efforts and supporting up-and-coming business professionals as an angel investor.
Allen Tsai Struggles to Launch Pani Systems, Inc.
Like Brian Sheth, Allen Tsai has launched many startup companies over the course of his career. Even so, he found himself struggling to raise money for his newest company, Pani Systems, Inc. Tsai’s sixth entrepreneurial endeavor features a smart countertop device that filters water from the kitchen sink and infuses vitamins and flavor into it.
One of Tsai’s biggest issues with launching his latest business is that hardware is expensive. Another challenge he faced was that consumer hardware is a difficult field to break into for newcomers.
Tsai realized he needed to change his strategy when he could not find investors with enough faith in his invention to put their own money on the line. With his background working for Qualcomm and Texas Instruments, Tsai brought deep knowledge of the consumer electronics industry to the table. He did not expect to receive so little interest from venture capitalists and angel investors, especially once they knew his background. Experiencing this rejection motivated Tsai to change his value proposition for investors.
What Did Allen Tsai Decide to Do Differently?
Frustrated but nowhere near ready to give up, Tsai began describing his smart countertop device differently when he met with angel investors and venture capitalists. He noticed that interest was piqued when he told the investors that the device was a tech-enabled consumer packaged good (CPG). By November 2021, he had completed a seed funding round worth $2.3 million. Brian Sheth was an instrumental investor in the funding rounds. Others included:
- Blake Chandlee of TikTok
- Brett Hurt of Bazaarvoice and Data.world
- Clayton Christopher of Sweet Leaf Tea and Deep Eddy Vodka
- Joshua Bayer of Capital Factory
- Matthew O’Hayer of Vital Farms
- Nav Sooch of Silicon Labs
Pani Source Today
Thanks to funding obtained from Brian Sheth and the other investors, Allen Tsai moved forward with launching his company. Pani Source now has five employees and works with several contractors. Money from the November 2021 seed funding round will go towards developing the Pani Source. He and his team, most of whom have years of experience in the CPG industry, are excited about the possibilities they can explore with this product.
The funding has also allowed Tsai to address sustainability concerns that plagued earlier developers of products like his. Consumers complained that devices like the single-pod Keurig and Nespresso machines were too wasteful. Tsai estimates that people can use pods included with the Pani Source up to 30 times.
The sustainability of the product appealed to Brian Sheth as an investor, since preserving the environment and natural resources is one of the largest focus areas of Sheth’s philanthropy as well, which he oversees through the Sheth Sangreal Foundation.
About Brian Sheth
Brian Sheth started his career in the mergers and acquisitions group at Deutche Morgan Grenfell and Goldman Sachs. He then accepted a position with Bain Capital before becoming the vice president of a private equity firm in 2000.
Brian Sheth resigned from the firm in 2020 to focus his efforts on assisting individuals and organizations around the world. Sheth does this though the Sheth Sangreal Foundation, which primarily focuses on education, saving natural habitats and preventing species extinction, and ending child poverty.