A New York VC Spotlight: Habib Kairouz


Habib Kairouz

Habib Kairouz is a managing partner of Rho Capital Partners and Rho Ventures, and a member of the investment committees of Rho Canada Ventures and Rho Fund Investors. He has nearly 20 years experience in venture capital.

Kairouz first joined Rho in 1993 and now focuses on investments in new media, information technology and communication companies at various stages of development, from seed stage to growth equity.

Prior to Rho, Kairouz worked in investment banking and leveraged buyouts in New York with Reich & Co. and Jesup & Lamont.

Kairouz is a native of Lebanon and is involved with several nonprofit organizations over there that focus on reforms and economic development.

He received a B.S. in engineering and a B.A. in economics from Cornell University and an MBA in finance from Columbia University.

Blog, Twitter, Websites:

Rho Ventures

Areas of expertise:
Communications, information technology, new media

Current investments:

Everyday Health
Public Mobile
Travora Media
Verified Person

Past investments:

AnswerSoft (acquired by Aspect Software)
Capstone Turbine (IPO)
CommerceOne (acquired by Perfect Commerce)
iVillage (acquired by NBC)
Memberworks (IPO)
OMGPOP (acquired by Zynga)
TACODA Networks (acquired by AOL)
Tripod (acquired by Lycos)
Yantra (acquired by AT&T)


Endeavor Global, Lebanon chapter
Lebanese International Finance Executives (LIFE)

Memorable quotes:

On what he looks for when evaluating companies for investment: “First of all, we look for a team, vision and leadership. We want entrepreneurs with disruptive ideas that challenge specific industries to develop new ways to do business, and are gutsy enough to say to the world that they’ve found a better way.”

On business metrics for successful startups: “On a high level, perhaps the single most important thing to focus on is how the startup is evolving. First we look at the team to see how quickly it comes together, the caliber of the team, if the executives complement each other’s skills and weaknesses, if the vision they have for the business is starting to materialize and if consumers are starting to buy into that vision.”

On what questions entrepreneurs should ask when looking for investment: “Entrepreneurs should ask how they can help the fund succeed. Venture capitalists must also answer to investors and have specific goals they need to reach so it’s important to figure out if interests align.”

Wisdom for new entrepreneurs: “Focus on building the team because nothing happens without a top-notch team. Over-hire on skill set but make sure skills are complementary. Every individual has strengths and weaknesses. The true sign of a skilled leader is being able to assess one’s own skills and weaknesses and bring in people with different yet constructive perspectives.”

Advice for new grads: “It is not easy finding a job in these times, but they just need to be persistent. Ultimately, things always turn around.”

On earning a degree: “When one gets a specialized degree, such as civil engineering, it tends to taint you, to paint a picture of where you can end up. It’s very difficult to imagine how a civil engineer could become a venture capitalist investing in new software – that has nothing to do with civil engineering.”

Click for more Venture Capitalists in New York.

About the author: Kristen Mott

Kristen Mott is a senior at Cleveland State University studying Journalism and Promotional Communication and current editor-in-chief of The Cauldron, the student-run alternative newspaper on campus.

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