The Story Behind Haystack’s Investment in Abbey Labs

Haystack is fortunate to be in a position where we work closely with a variety of pre-seed firms, small to large seed funds, and all the big top tier VC funds. We are collaborative by nature, and I’ve always personally felt that the best part of seed investing is that in many cases you can sort of “build” your syndicate along with the founder in a collaborative way. To help drive this, we often organize very small dinners with our closest investor friends at the large VC firms to help founders meet each other. The goal of these dinners is purely social and sharing notes. Usually, it’s very hard to trace a line back to what actually led to a new investment. Until today.

In the Fall of 2022, at one of these dinners, there was assigned seating, so Divya was assigned to one table, and I was toward the corner of one of the other long tables. Arvil was at the end of the table, next to me. We were across from two founders of Chkk. We didn’t know each other before this, and we didn’t realize it was going to be a 3-hour sit-down dinner and nonstop conversation about startups, food, culture, and more. The guys from Chkk were from Pakistan, so we ended up talking about Zareen’s, and then, well, we all organized a trip there with another frequent collaborator, Bilal (he’s the mayor of Zareen’s). And with Arvil, we stayed in touch but never discussed what he was working no. The conversation never naturally went there.

However, during those 3 hours, I got to see Arvil up close, he discussed a wide range of topics, asked sharp questions, and shared some amazing stories from his previous role operating as a high-level PM for Okta from the early days through IPO. I went home thinking, “holy smokes, this guy is incredibly sharp.” It felt like his product insights were not fluffy, but very deep and most-critically, hard-earned. So I made a note and tracked him slowly. Since we didn’t chat about his new thing, I didn’t want to dishonor the great serendipitous dinner conversation we had. On the other hand, I’m hard-wired to pay attention to these moments (for better or worse), and so at some point, Aashay heard about it too, so I sent him a note and intercepted him at just the right time.

Arvil and Jeff (his amazing co-founder) somehow agreed to our overture even though they were deep in conversations with their lead investor, whom they’ve known for a long time. We begged to be part fo the process, and Arvil relented (sorry man), and I think we were able to show our sincere interest in Abbey’s mission, technology approach, and GTM. Long story made short – we were able to invest, and we are thrilled about that opportunity. Thank you Arvil and Jeff.

You can read more about Abbey Labs here with their announcements today. We don’t pontificate about investment theses in these posts, the reality is that we have bought into Abbey’s core insights and have conviction in the problem space. Put simply, Arvil and Jeff are people to keep an eye on.

I woke up this morning feeling very proud to be able to write this post, in the only way I know how. I like that I was able to meet Arvil in an organic manner, and to be part of a wide-ranging discussion over a great meal. In those three hours, I saw everything I need to see to gain conviction in a technical entrepreneur. Months later when we met his co-founder Jeff, we had the same feeling, no surprises there. I am proud that Divya was with me at the dinner and got to meet Arvil (and agreed with my instinct), and that Aashay had his antenna perfectly tuned to the right time for me to reach out. We swarmed as a team and put our best foot forward. I sort of wish every investment we made could follow a similar tracking path. It is so much better to meet folks organically and get to know them as people first. That asymmetric information is not only valuable, but more fun. And so, we at Haystack are very proud to have fought our way to the table, and we are grateful for the opportunity that Abbey Labs has given us. Thank you, and onward!