Ravi Bhatt

Ravi Bhatt

  • Founded
  • Invested

“I’m drawn towards people who have ambitiously reinvented themselves and achieved self-taught mastery.”

My parents immigrated from India to New York to small-town Indiana, so when my wife and I were considering moving from Chicago to Bloomington, their experience helped put our impulsive change into perspective. We bought our house in Bloomington over Facetime, and then my wife sold our condo to a neighbor after a quick conversation. 

Elevate was a great support for us when we moved to Indiana to start Folia, even before they made an investment. Cy Megnin — the EIR we worked with— introduced me to fellow founders, support resources, and I even met my first teammates through him. 

I studied computer science and cognitive science as an undergrad at IU. The straight path would have been to go med school or become a researcher, but I don’t like going straight. Like a lot of disillusioned souls, I ended up in law school.  If I’m being earnest I think the real draw was my passion for oral advocacy, storytelling and persuasion. After law school, I was on track to be a large-law-firm lawyer, but I again pivoted shortly after I  moved to Chicago to follow my now wife.

Before I entered the startup world, I worked as a communication strategy consultant for high-stakes jury trials, often with hundreds of millions of dollars on the line. Every week, there was a new client with a wildly different problem wrapped in a nice gift box with a bow on top. You would immerse yourself in it, and after the project was over, there was another gift box just waiting to be unwrapped. 

You’re always learning with startups, too, because the world is constantly changing. I started my entrepreneurial journey in 2010. This was right when the iPad came out, and the iPhone was still new. Between now and then, there have been at least two cataclysmic shifts in the world of software, and changes are happening even more rapidly today. 

In those early days of mobile, there was a lot of demand and interest. With my first startups, we didn’t take any outside capital to build the businesses — we bootstrapped. We found our footing with great customer partnerships and were able to use that strength to scale. 

Now with Folia, we see an even bigger market opportunity, and that led us to raise capital at the start. Our entire $2M seed investment came from Indiana dollars, with Elevate leading. Elevate is one of the most active investors in the country, and that velocity has been inspirational. 

The Elevate team also leads with genuine humility, which is a breath of fresh air. Unfortunately, we still have this “cult of the founder” culture that surrounds startups, where we do a little bit of ceremonial hero worship that makes it seem like one person is the cause of all the success. It’s not true, but what it does is it provides a bad education for those who are earlier in their startup journey. It teaches the wrong thing — that someone else has all the answers. It’s like people who idolize a musician, but then don’t bother to ever pick up an instrument themselves. 

I’m drawn towards people who have ambitiously reinvented themselves and achieved self-taught mastery. It gives you a little glimpse of the power of the autodidact. Like yeah, cool, I can totally do this thing even though there’s nothing in my background that suggests I can learn this new industry. I think that a lot of founders are like that. That’s the game I like playing and what I find most fulfilling about the entrepreneurial journey.