What I Learned In 2015: Arteen Arabshahi, Karlin Ventures

Story by Arteen Arabshahi


As is a tradition for socaltech, we feature reflections on the past year from those in the community all during the last week of the year. For today's contribution, we have the thoughts of Arteen Arabshahi, a venture capitalist at Karlin Ventures (

What was the biggest news for you or your firm this year?

Arteen Arabshahi: While Karlin Ventures has had an excellent first few years as a firm seeing over 6 exits and making 40+ investments within 3 years, what was most exciting in 2015 was the addition of our third team member, Erin Shipley. Erin joined us from the Weinstein Company and has become my partner in crime when looking at new investments. The addition of another thoughtful leader on the team has been tremendous for both us internally as a firm and for the portfolio. Also, launching Karlin Fellows was incredibly near and dear to me this year as it was an idea I've had for a while and it's been amazing bringing it to fruition this year and watching it evolve into such an exceptional group of people.

What was the biggest lesson you learned over the last year?

Arteen Arabshahi: A major goal of mine this year was to ask better questions. I realized that in order to truly get better as a VC I needed to ask more "how" questions instead of just "what" and "why". In doing so, I've been able to go deeper than just the surface layer of startup management and not only learn to get better at investing, but also to be more helpful to portfolio companies. By understanding the "how", I can make genuine suggestions for our companies that are rooted in a deep understanding instead of just pattern matching the "what".

Who or what do you think had the biggest impact on the technology industry in 2015?

Arteen Arabshahi: This year felt like a massive inflection point for LA tech. People are no longer afraid to apply tech-thinking and startup solutions to industries that are traditionally non-tech. My favorite thing about being in LA is that there's such diversity of interests, skills, and industry. Exploiting this and using it to our benefit is why you see companies like Laurel & Wolf, Honk, Shiphawk, Cargomatic, Victorious, RealtyMogul, Thrive Market, and more succeeding here in LA rather than in the Bay Area or other regions. We are uniquely suited to apply tech to more than just the tech industry and LA has reached a point where it also has the talent to do so. The next few years are our opportunity to apply this and catapult the community to the next level, rivaling New York and the Bay Area in a more significant way than ever before.

What are the technologies or things you think people ought to watch in 2016?

Arteen Arabshahi: Hyperloop Technologies. Obviously it's not going to get implemented right away, but just seeing them acquiring land in Las Vegas and preparing a test track is extremely exciting not only for LA (given they were founded here), but also for potential users. Public transportation in the US is still so inefficient comparatively so seeing steps like this being taken is hugely motivating. (I decided not to choose a portfolio company, but obviously all of those, too.)

Arteen Arabshahi is an early stage investor at Karlin Ventures where he focuses on enterprise software and marketplaces; a board member for TEDxVenice Beach; and an active supporter of TWLOHA, a non-profit raising awareness and support for those struggling with mental health. Before Karlin Ventures, Arteen spearheaded the launch of Built In LA, an online community for digital entrepreneurs and innovators. Prior to Built In LA, his passion for startups flourished while helping run operations at Excelerate Labs, now Techstars Chicago. Arteen graduated magna cum laude from the University of Arizona with a BSBA in Finance and Entrepreneurship.