Summary List Placement
Gen Z VCs have made headlines by starting syndicates, networking in Slack groups, and making a racket on Clubhouse. It’s quickly become clear: Gen Z is already shaking up the venture capital industry.
There’s no set path for Gen Z, born between 1995 and 2010, to break into venture. Some landed their first jobs by getting lucky with a cold email, while others got the attention of bigwigs through their own, ambitious personal projects. For example, one Gen Z on our list landed his VC job after writing a book at age 18 that impressed a venture firm partner. Others are forgoing traditional firms entirely, opting instead to angel invest in startups by Gen Z founders that they believe in.
There are, however, some commonalities between the rising stars on this list: almost everyone leverages social media in some way (see: the three TikTok superstars), many deeply understand the importance of forming their own Gen Z VC communities, and pretty much all of them want to change the world.
Insider compiled this list by talking to dozens of Gen Z VCs to discover the rising stars making a name for themselves within their own spheres.
So, whether through funds they founded themselves or by climbing the ranks of Silicon Valley power firms, here are the Gen Z VCs, organized alphabetically by last names, making their mark on the industry.
Adapt Ventures’ Ammar Amdani: 22
Ammar Amdani, 22, and his brother, Mohammed Amdani, 25, are a VC dream team. Both entered the venture capital world separately — Ammar started his career at RLC Ventures in London — but then came together to found Adapt Ventures, an early-stage firm.
Additionally, Ammar cofounded the e-commerce apparel company Sugar.
Adapt Ventures’ Mohammed Amdani: 25
Before founding Adapt Ventures, Mohammed Amdani, 25, was on the investment team at Plug and Play Ventures, leading early stage investments in the US, Latin America, Europe, Middle East, and Africa.
His advice to aspiring VCs is to prioritize relationship building.
“Focus on building meaningful relationships with a handful of individuals who you enjoy sharing ideas with,” he said.
Global Silicon Valley’s Jonathan Chang: 22
Jonathan Chang, 22, had a wild journey into venture capital. He began as a photographer, shooting photos and videos for major artists like Charli CXC and Mura Masa. He then began editing videos for Global Silicon Valley (GSV), an early stage fund focused on digital education, and was eventually brought on as a full time associate.
Like a true Gen Zer, Chang uses TikTok to teach others about venture capitalism — and even find startups to invest in himself. He angel invested in CopyAI, a startup that uses artificial intelligence to create copy, after stumbling across the company on his TikTok feed.
Acceleprise’s Pranavi Cheemakurti: 24
Pranavi Cheemakurti, 24, started her venture career by cold emailing and calling 200 venture firms. None of them worked.
Instead, she landed a stint at VU Venture Partners after a chance encounter. She successfully sourced two deals for the firm, and then became an associate full time at Acceleprise, an early stage firm, where she invests in B2B software. She’s sourced Acceleprise’s investment in Amino AI, a startup using artificial intelligence to track mental health, and Kiira Health, a virtual clinic for women that raised $1.5 million in seed money.
Cheemakurti is passionate about diversity in tech, and has written about the subject for TechCrunch, Crunchbase and Hackernoon. She also volunteers with Neythri, a non-profit working to elevate South Asian womxn in the workplace.
Lux Capital’s Sujude Dalieh: 24
Sujude Dalieh, 24, is a venture associate at Lux Capital. She was previously an analyst for K50 Ventures, where she helped with investments in edtech companies Top-E, Verto Education, and Edsights.
She’s also currently working on her own startup, Gajo, to help Gen Z explore different careers.
But it wasn’t always obvious Dalieh was going to go into venture. She majored in chemistry at UC Berkeley and researched green chemistry at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Dalieh says the ability to adapt is crucial to succeeding as a VC.
“VCs need to be in a constant state of growth and curiosity,” she said. “Keep adding to your toolkit, understand your strengths and lean in on making yourself invaluable.”
Interlace Ventures and Momentous Ventures’ Erik de Stefanis: 23
By day, Erik de Stefanis, 23, is an analyst at seed fund Interlace Ventures.
But when he’s not doing work for Interlace, he’s trying to lower the boundaries of entry for Gen Z investors. He’s the founder of the Gen Z syndicate, Gen Z Ventures, which recently made its first investment in Monet, a dating app where you communicate through drawings.
He’s also an angel investor, investing in Sunroom, a platform empowering digital creators.
Maven Ventures’ Jay Drain Jr.: 24
Jay Drain Jr., 24, is an associate at Maven Ventures, a seed stage fund specializing in consumer software. Drain helped with Maven’s investments in Pledgeling, a “Stripe for charity,” and Frame Therapy, a mental health platform.
Drain previously worked as an analyst at Goldman Sachs and summer associate at Amplify.la, a pre-seed venture firm based in LA.
Underscore’s Brian Fakhoury: 22
Brian Fakhoury, 22, remembers staying up past midnight, pouring over information, and typing up memos for Underscore VC’s “sprint” to invest in Coda, a Google-Drive competitor valued at over $600 million.
Fakhoury, an analyst at the early stage Boston-based firm, said it was his coolest deal to date.
Before joining Underscore, Fakhoury was a venture partner at Contrary Capital. Despite Fakhoury’s dedication to late nights and long hours, he said the best thing for aspiring VCs to do is to stop thinking of themselves as VCs.
“Don’t refer to yourself as an ‘aspiring VC.’ VC is not your whole personality,” he said. “At best, it’s a mindset, and it’s one you can get going with right away, regardless of a job title.”
VU Venture Partners’ Christopher Gaeta: 21
It’s a miracle Christopher Gaeta, 21, has time to sleep. Not only is he an associate at VU Venture Partners, a multi-stage fund with a focus on healthcare, but he’s also pursuing an undergraduate degree at Swarthmore College and a masters degree at University of Pennsylvania.
If that wasn’t enough, he’s also the youngest associate to lead a healthcare team at VU Venture Partners, co-leading the Series A raise for X-Therma, a company helping extend the lifespan of removed organs.
Gaeta is also a LinkedIn influencer with over one million people in his network.
Intonation Ventures’ Zibo Gao: 24
Zibo Gao, 24, is a partner at Intonation Ventures, a family-backed fund based in NYC and Beijing, where he focuses on consumer tech and product companies. He’s invested in Boomy, an AI music generator, and Monet, a dating app where users communicate in drawings.
Gao believes that, although Gen Z is younger than most VCs, their youth is an asset.
“Even though we might have shorter resumes than others, we still have our unique insights and expertise on certain fields,” he said.
OpenView’s Rak Garg: 24
Rak Garg, 24, is a VC at OpenView Partners, a Boston-based firm with $1.4 billion assets under management, according to Crunchbase. Before OpenView, he was a product manager at Australian software company Atlassian.
To get a leg up in the venture capital world, Garg recommends diving deep into a speciality.
“Figure out what kind of things you’d want to invest in as a VC,” he said. “And develop a nuanced, deep perspective on those things.”
Bessemer’s Gaby Goldberg: 21
Gaby Goldberg, 21, was scrolling through Twitter in an Israeli airport when her life changed. She saw an internship posting for VC Jeff Morris Jr.’s fund, Chapter One. She typed up a quick email introduction and clicked send right as she was boarding her flight. And it worked.
She interned under Morris, sourcing his investment in OtherSideAI.
Michael Gruen: 22
While you may not see Michael Gruen, 22, on your TikTok “For You” page, rest assured he’s behind the scenes, supporting your favorite stars. He cofounded TalentX Entertainment, the talent management company that represents Josh Richards, Bryce Hall, Griffin Johnson, Noah Beck, and more.
But he’s also a prolific angel investor, investing in hot fintech startup Lendtable, as well as companies like Hebbia, an AI search extension, and Breakr, an app connecting influencers and musicians.
His biggest advice is to be persistent.
“Never be discouraged by the people that tell you no,” he said. “Just go find the person who will tell you yes.”
Bryce Hall: 21
When Bryce Hall, 21, decides to invest in a startup, he can basically ensure that startup is seen by millions. Hall is one of the Sway Boys, a popular TikTok collab house, who has jumped headfirst into venture capital, angel investing in buzzy companies like Lendtable, technology startup Karat, and influencer management app Stir.
Founders previously told Insider that the Sway Boys’ social media presence make them extremely attractive investors, since they use their platform to promote their portfolio companies.
The Sway Boys also recently bought 30% of Sillybandz, the once-ubiquitous rubber band company for children. (A few days before the investment was announced, Hall tweeted, “my prediction for 2021: silly bandz will be popular again.” It got over 11,000 likes.)
Further cementing his place in the industry, Hall cohosts the podcast Capital University with Anthony Pompliano, cofounder of Morgan Creek Digital.
Griffin Johnson: 22
Griffin Johnson, 22, is an angel investor and TikTok star with over 10 million followers. He’s angel invested in Stir, Breakr, and Lendtable, as well as buying 30% of Sillybandz with the other Sway Boys.
Johnson, a self-proclaimed gamer, said he’s particularly proud of his “no-brainer” investment in ReKT Global, an e-sports company.
He believes passion is key to being a good investor.
“To add value, you have to have a belief and passion in the concept/company that goes beyond simple financials,” he said.
Sierra Ventures’ Tej Kanani: 21
At only 21, Tej Kanani is an investor at Sierra Ventures, a prominent early-stage firm in the Bay Area, and has already sourced two startups for the firm.
Kanani couldn’t name the startups because they’re operating “in stealth” — meaning they’re currently avoiding public attention — but said one is an application security company and the other uses artificial intelligence to streamline doctors appointments.
He previously invested in early stage startups at VMware.
Lerer Hippeau’s Meagan Loyst: 23
Meagan Loyst, 23, has been referred to as the “Queen of Gen Z VC,” and it’s not a totally inaccurate title. Although she’s only been an analyst at early stage firm Lerer Hippeau for five months, she’s already made quite an impact.
Loyst founded Gen Z VCs, a Slack group for young VCs to connect, which has over 5,000 members. She has since expanded the movement to include a Gen Z beta club, where members can test out new apps, and a mentorship program.
Loyst said the best thing aspiring VCs can do is jump right in.
“It’s never too early to start doing the job — writing about thematic areas of interest, getting involved in entrepreneurship centers on campus, or keeping a list of startups and building frameworks around why they’re interesting,” Loyst said.
Countdown Capital’s Jai Malik: 25
Jai Malik, 25, almost became a monk in Nepal. Instead, he landed a job at a startup and never looked back, according to his blog.
Malik is currently the founder of Countdown Capital, a firm dedicated to ethical investing. He previously founded 208 Ventures, an angel group in the Midwest, and was an investor at Rocana Ventures, a multistage foodtech VC firm based in LA.
Malik led Countdown Capital’s seed investment in Atomic Machines, as well as 208 Seed Ventures’ seed investment in Avant Meats, a cell-based protein start-up.
He co-lead Rocana’s Series D investment in Bulletproof Coffee, the company founded by tech guru and biohacking advocate Dave Asprey.
Norwest’s Michelle Nie: 25
Michelle Nie, 25, describes herself in a Medium post as being torn between two generations. A borderline Millennial/Gen Zer — right on the line where she remembers CDs, but also understands TikTok.
Luckily, this has been an asset in her job as a VC at Norwest Venture Partners, a global fund with over $9.6 billion of capital under management, according to Crunchbase.
“Being on the cusp of two generations affords me an interesting perspective of seeing how the two generations intersect and diverge,” she wrote.
She helped on Norwest’s investment in Tempo, an at-home fitness company, and Faire, a wholesale marketplace.
Previously, Nie was an analyst at Morgan Stanley in the tech banking group.
Lux Capital’s Rahul Rana: 19
To land his spot at Lux Capital, all Rana Rahul had to do was write an entire book.
His book, “Making Moonshots” breaks down how people build tech startups with radical solutions to the world’s problems, modeled after companies like SpaceX.
He interviewed Lux partner Josh Wolfe as a source for his book and made such a good impression that Wolfe offered him a job a few months later.
Rana, 19, is now an associate at Lux Capital, a firm with $2.4 billion assets under management, according to Crunchbase.
Remus Capital’s Josh Richards: 19
Josh Richards rose to fame on TikTok in the last year, where he currently has over 24 million followers.
But he’s now jumped headfirst into the venture capital world, angel investing in companies like Lendtable, Stir, and Breakr. He’s also chief strategy officer for TikTok’s competitor, Triller, and part of the Sway Boy’s 30% ownership in Sillybandz.
On top of that, Richards recently became a venture partner at Remus Capital, an early stage firm in Boston.
He said the key to success is partnering with people who have different skill sets.
“The strongest teams are composed of people with complementary talents, knowing that ‘the whole is more than the sum of its parts,'” he said.
Greylock Partners’ Corinne Riley: 25
Corinne Riley, 25, is an investor at Silicon Valley firm Greylock Partners, focusing on enterprise software. Prior to that, she worked at Morgan Stanley’s technology group, where she helped with Zoom’s and Uber’s IPO process.
Her advice to future VCs? Get hands on experience with the companies you’re investing in.
“When learning about companies, make sure you actually use or demo the product,” she said. “You learn a lot from being the user, and almost certainly will gain some user insight for the founder.”
Social Impact Capital’s Nik Sharma: 23
By the time Nik Sharma was in high school, he was already managing the social media media accounts for major celebrities like Pitbull and Priyanka Chopra.
Now 23, Sharma is the CEO of Sharma Brands, a strategic-initiatives firm that works with brands like Jay Z’s Roc Nation and Caraway Home.
But he’s gone beyond marketing brands to actually investing in them. He’s a venture partner at Social Impact Capital, a scout for Sugar Capital and Indie VC, and an angel investor in over 20 companies. His first investment was in Haus, a beverage brand, followed by investments in JUDY and Black Wolf Nation, among others.
It may seem like Sharma has a lot on his plate, but he says he’s determined to add value to every company he invests in.
“I tell all my portfolio companies to ‘abuse my time’ as much as possible, and not only do they get help, but I also learn something new each time,” he said.
Alumni Ventures Group Basecamp Fund’s Keiran Simunovic: 22
Keiran Simunovic, 22, is an analyst at the Alumni Ventures Group (AVG) Basecamp Fund, one of the top 25 most prolific seed firms of 2020.
Simunovic has helped with the firm’s investments in Mainstreet, a tax service for startups, and Levels, a health and wellness company. He’s also the program director for 10,000 Entrepreneurs, a nonprofit created by AVG to provide $50,000 in grants to student entrepreneurs.
But he’s not just investing in founders — he’s helping them find love. Simunovic is one of the moderators in the viral Clubhouse room, “nyu girls roasting tech guys,” where the Gen Z mods let people romantically “shoot their shot” with audience members.
Simunovic believes you have to think outside of the box to make it in venture capitalism.
“Talent and opportunities are everywhere, especially post-COVID,” he said. “Twitter, Clubhouse, and Discord are great platforms to meet builders and people thinking about starting something new.”
Acrew Capital’s John Smothers: 24
At just 24, John Smothers is already an angel investor, the founder of his own angel fund, and an analyst at Acrew Capital.
Through his fund Dimension Ventures, he invested in Buy Me A Coffee, a Y Combinator startup that helps creators get paid. He also personally angel invested in Finix, a payments startup whose Series B was led by Sequoia.
Now Smother is an associate at Acrew Capital, which launched its first fund of $250 million last year.
Bessemer Venture Partners’ Alexandra Sukin: 23
Alexandra Sukin, 23, is an investor at Bessemer Venture Partners and founding venture partner of Contrary Capital, a university-focused fund.
She helped source Bessemer’s investment in companies like Truebill, a consumer fintech company that recently raised $17 million in Series C funding, and Undock, a Chrome extension that boasts Arlan Hamilton and Sarah Imbach of PayPal as investors.
If you’re trying break into venture, Sukin says you have to stop thinking about the world as is and, instead, think of what it could be.
“Rather than trying to place the company in the context of a static world, you can ask yourself ‘What can I learn about the space this company is operating in, and where it is heading?'” she said.
Techstar’s Alifya Valiji: 24
Alifya Valiji, 24, is a venture associate at Techstars, a Denver-based early stage firm with $103.8 million in assets under management, according to Crunchbase.
She’s also a platform lead at Day One, an eight-week fellowship for founders.
She recently founded a startup, The Closed Round, which helps connect founders to investors. So far, it’s helped companies like Aduri, uMore, and Swipe Credit get funding.
Enzo Ventures’ Edgar Vicente: 24
Edgar Vicente, 24, cofounded Enzo Ventures, a fund focusing on pre-seed startups throughout Europe.
Enzo partners with PROfounders Capital, a top-tier Series A fund in Europe. Vicente describes PROfounders as the “older brother” of Enzo Ventures, being one of the largest LPs within its first fund and sitting on the investment committee.
His proudest deal through Enzo was in Balio, which he describes as a digital platform “where you can talk about money without taboos.”
But one of Vincente’s biggest wins was as an angel investor, getting in early on Glovo, a buzzy Spanish startup recently valued at over $1 billion.
Primary Ventures’ Lia Zhang: 25
Most people use gaming as a way to wind down from work. Lia Zhang, 25, is not most people.
Zhang, an associate at seed stage firm Primary Ventures, combines gaming with venture capital by interviewing founders and VCs as she streams on Twitch. She’s interviewed Pim de Witte from Medal.tv, and Turner Novak from Gelt Venture Capital — all while slaying virtual enemies.
For Primary Ventures, Zhang has helped source deals in companies like Flock, Helaina, and Realm. She was previously at Stripes, a growth equity firm, where she focused on SaaS investing.
Originally published at https://www.businessinsider.com/the-top-29-gen-z-vcs-changing-venture-capital-2021-2 on .