Sonali De Rycker-2

How Sonali De Rycker built a career in the industry

Sonali De Rycker is one of the most influential women in the investment industry. She specialises in investing in technology companies and was the first to believe in projects such as Spotify and Monzo. Rycker’s biography is an interesting tale of how a girl from Mumbai managed to reach the heights of venture capital.
Rycker was born in Mumbai in 1980. Her father was a director in a packaging company. Despite her parents’ relatively high position, the family lived modestly, making Sonali think at an early age about achieving success by relying only on her strength.
In India at that time, strict adherence to tradition severely restricted a woman’s freedom to choose her own path. At that time, there were three paths for girls from middle-class families:
– favourable marriage, where the parents chose a future husband;
– medical training;
– a career as an accountant.
Sonali did not see herself in any of these scenarios. She wanted to start her own business, but that was not an option in India. Then Rycker decided to leave the country for the US, but her family had no money to move, and Sonali had never been out of Mumbai. Nevertheless, she began to look for ways to leave India legally. She sent her grades to many American universities and, thanks to her high score in humanities, won a scholarship to a prestigious private college in Pennsylvania.

Sonali De Rycker

Moving to the USA

In 1995, Sonali graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree, and to stay in the country, she started looking for a job in a large company. She was lucky enough to get an internship at Goldman Sachs, where she researched new investment markets, including the technology sector. After working at the firm for a while, Sonali decided to continue working in venture capital but in Europe. To achieve this goal, Sonali enrolled at Harvard Business School and after graduating in 2000, she left Goldman Sachs. Her new employer was the Atlas Ventures investment fund. Rycker joined the London office as a junior partner.

Career in the UK

In 2002, the dotcom crisis hit, which halted investment in technology for almost 5 years. Despite the difficulties, Sonali stayed in the business and moved to Accel’s European office in 2008, eventually becoming a general partner. Rycker’s first success in her new role was investing in the then-unknown platform Spotify. The streaming service was worth US$27 billion a few years later. Sonali’s other deals have been equally successful, including:
– fintech Soldo;
– neobank Monzo;
– Sennder, a freight forwarding company.
Outside of work, Rycker is active in other areas of her life. She is raising two children with her husband and is active in the community as a member of the organisation Level20. The latter supports women working in the venture capital industry.