September 21, 2015
Venture capital (VC) isn’t exactly an industry that’s known for its diversity, but that’s changing. Over the last few years, newcomers have brought fresh voices, funding styles and perspectives to the VC space. Below are eight of the most promising venture capitalists (VCs) on the block. These impressive women and men joined the industry within the past several years and have already impacted it for the better.
Adam Quinton, Lucas Point Ventures
In 2013, Adam Quinton founded Lucas Point Ventures, an early-stage investment company that’s focused on supporting diverse management teams. Because he prefers to “focus away from the pattern recognition of the majority,” most of the companies in Quinton’s portfolio, including The Muse and VenueBook, have women founders or co-founders and CEOs.
Why he’s awesome: Quinton is an active publisher on LinkedIn, where he shares smart tips for new founders and his perspective on how to make the VC space more inclusive.
Anu Duggal, Female Founders Fund (F Cubed)
A lifelong entrepreneur and the creator of India’s first wine bar, Anu Duggal is the founding partner of F Cubed, an early-stage fund investing in female-founded technology companies. F Cubed is focused on providing exceptional talent with the funding, support and expertise needed to grow an idea into a successful company.
Why she’s awesome: Duggal has made it clear that F Cubed isn’t a feel-good initiative. She believes there’s significant money to be made from investing in women-led startups, and she continues to prove that with her F Cubed portfolio.
Fran Hauser, Rothenberg Ventures
A digital media veteran, Fran Hauser left her role as the president of digital for Time Inc.’s Style and Entertainment Group to join Rothenberg Ventures as partner in 2014. At her current gig, Hauser gets to pursue her passion for building companies and has invested primarily in digital media and e-commerce startups including HelloGiggles, Wanelo and Blake Lively's Preserve.
Why she’s awesome: Hauser is the subject of a Harvard Business School case study. She recently stepped foot on the HBS campus, where she got to present her story and watch students debate her decision to join Rothenberg Ventures. She also speaks and writes frequently about the importance of diversifying the startup and VC landscape.
Jenny Lefcourt, Freestyle Capital
Back in 1998, Jenny Lefcourt had the idea for WeddingChannel.com, an online registry platform that she successfully grew and then sold to The Knot in 2006. A few years later, she sold Bella Pictures, a wedding photography company. Today, she’s a partner at Freestyle Capital, where she has the opportunity to invest in and advise in early-stage technology companies, including Narvar and Nestio.
Why she’s awesome: According to TechCrunch, when Lefcourt dropped out of Stanford Business School to found WeddingChannel, she got this feedback from a well-known VC: “I see the pretty girls. Beyond the pretty girls, what do you have for me?” Her response was to laugh it off.
Martin A. Nisenholtz, FirstMark Capital
In 2011, when Martin Nisenholtz stepped down as the The New York Times’ head of digital, the big question was what he would do next. Since then, he’s taught at universities, joined corporate boards and, in 2014, became a venture partner at FirstMark Capital. At FirstMark, Nisenholtz uses his digital acumen to advise the firm on its investments in early-stage technology companies.
Why he’s awesome: According to Harvard’s Nieman Journalism Lab, Nisenholtz “helped form the internet we know today.” That’s a big deal, and certainly the type of guy that you want evaluating your portfolio.
Nnamdi Okike, 645 Ventures
Nnamdi Okike spent years working within the venture capital ecosystem before founding 645 Venures with partner Aaron Holiday in 2014. 645 Ventures’ investment areas include e-commerce, data analytics, online marketplace and software-as-a-service. Okike is focused on identifying founders in large nascent markets, and his portfolio includes companies like Iterable and Loverly.
Why he’s awesome: In addition to supporting women and minority entrepreneurs, Okie is also seeking to assemble an investment team that reflects the diversity of these founders.
Sarah Kunst, Future Perfect Ventures
Named one of Business Insider’s 30 under 30, Sarah Kunst is keeping quite busy these days. In addition to writing for Entrepreneur and The Daily Best, and serving as an editor for Marie Claire, Kunst is also a venture partner at Future Perfect Ventures. Founded by Jalak Jobanputra, Future Perfect Ventures is an early-stage fund that partners with entrepreneurs who are humanizing data.
Why she’s awesome: Kunst recently founded the Female Investors Opportunities List, a Google Group that’s focused on getting women investors more media and speaking opportunities.
Susan Lyne, BBG Ventures at AOL
After serving of CEO of AOL’s Brand Group, Lyne shifted gears in fall 2014 when she took the helm of the company’s new venture fund, which invests in early-stage women-led technology companies like Guildery. Called Built By Girls (BBG) Ventures, the new fund allows Lyne to explore her passion for investing while helping to increase the number of women-led companies receiving venture funding.
Why she’s awesome: In addition to AOL, Lyne’s held leadership positions at Gilt Groupe, Martha Steward Living Omnimedia, ABC Entertainment, Premiere and the Village Voice. That’s quite a resume, and it’s given Lyne an unparalleled understanding of how women consumers interact with media and technology.
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