Hey Jonathan, tell us about yourself!
Hi friends! I'm an early-stage VC in Silicon Valley who supports, empowers and invests in ambitious founders and startups building smarter societies for a better future. I'm an industry-agnostic investor, but have a soft spot for agriculture, food tech and innovations that will enable us to build a more sustainable global food system. Growing up, I spent a decade of time living in Taiwan and Japan and in my free time I love challenging hikes, culinary adventures and being an evangelist for Asian American representation across entrepreneurship and tech.
Can you tell us what you do as an Investor at Scrum Ventures for those who are unfamiliar?
At a high level, venture capitalists are middlemen between our LPs, who invest money into our fund, and the entrepreneurs we decide to invest in. To be a little more specific, my job involves studying current events, trends and market drivers to develop an investment thesis, then sourcing and building relationships with founders we want to invest in, performing due diligence on companies, and then presenting the best investment opportunities to our investment committee. On top of this, I also judge and advise many pitch events and accelerator programs and also support portfolio companies in areas like business development, strategy, hiring and more.
How did you decide to pursue your specific career?
My journey was unconventional. I was an entrepreneur in college - I started 2 businesses that ultimately failed, but those experiences really inspired me to find ways I could help other founders succeed. Right after college, I decided to pursue an MBA at Cornell University, where I focused all of my energy on immersing myself into the school's entrepreneurial community, and also developing experience in the VC space. I hustled my way into my first VC role while still a student, and also led a consulting team project for a social impact startup that confirmed my conviction of being an impact-focused investor. But the most transformative moment for me was the time I spent running an agtech accelerator program called THRIVE. My time at THRIVE allowed me to develop expertise in the agriculture and food space, helped me build an incredible network, and gave me the chance to really dedicate myself to helping new founders build their companies and take the next steps in their growth.
What made you interested in your field?
As a former entrepreneur, I really sympathize with the growing pains founders face when they scale their companies. As a citizen of the world, I wanted to support sectors and industries that could have a wider impact on quality of life and resource sustainability. For me, the idea of using technology and innovation to help groups like farmers, doctors, warehouse workers, and scientists is really appealing.
Any advice on how to stand out and get hired for those starting off?
Network and reputation are the two most important currencies in the VC space. Make sure you keep up with current events, read as much as you can about tech trends, network with as many founders and investors as you can, and start developing a personal PR strategy (i.e. blogging, judging pitch events, participating on panels, etc).
3 Character traits that would make someone excel in your field
1. High EQ (soft skills like emotional intelligence, networking and founder empathy)
2. Strong conviction in your beliefs and decisions
3. Strong sense of curiosity
Most difficult thing about your job?
Trying to predict what the future is going to look like
What would you like to say to your younger self?
Don't let others tell you what you should do with your life and who you should be - take some risks and explore uncertain and unclear paths, even if it terrifies you.
Best advice you've received/heard?
Trust your gut - you've spent your whole life honing your instincts so let it guide you.
Any last thoughts, advice, or recommendations for someone who wants to become a Venture Capitalist?
Almost every VC has a blog, where they share their thoughts, processes and random musings - read as many of them as you can!