On the 10 year anniversary of the Kapor Capital Fellows Program, the 2021 class took some time to reflect on the program that brought us together over the last two months. This summer, we dove deep into all aspects of the venture capital industry, a critical and meaningful experience for individuals like us who represent communities and backgrounds that have been largely underrepresented and often excluded from similar spaces.
Our reflections include what we’ve learned, our thoughts on the VC industry, and our future career paths moving forward. Though our backgrounds and prior experiences are wildly different, we all share the same passion for making a positive impact in our communities and beyond. Overall, this summer has been an unforgettable experience that will keep us connected to each other and the Kapor Capital mission, supporting impact-driven startups and technologies.
Through my summer fellowship with Kapor Capital, I learned three invaluable lessons that I will carry with me moving forward:
- Diverse representation at all levels within the venture capital ecosystem is critical for advancing change.
- The best way to learn is by doing.
- Your lived experience, prior background and perspective is also important and can be a value add in new spaces.
During my time at Kapor Capital, I sourced companies, conducted diligence processes and worked on deal closings, wrote and presented investment memos, networked with and connected other VC investors, organized and participated in events for the Kapor network, supported content creation for the broader Kapor ecosystem, collaborated with the SMASH rising scholars program, and wrote an investment thesis on lifelong learning and an equitable future of work.
I’m incredibly grateful to the Kapor Capital team and my fellow summers for an incredible experience of learning, doing, collaborating, connecting, and leveraging my own background in order to both see and advance what is possible for a firm committed to both impact and returns. Equipped with the lessons and networks Kapor Capital has given me, I can’t wait to continue my journey to advance diversity, equity and inclusion within the venture capital ecosystem as I begin my MBA program at Columbia Business School this Fall.
As a Summer Associate at Kapor Capital focused on Talent Ops, Culture, and DEI, I have truly been able to wear many hats during my work-days. My role goes beyond the stereotypical tasks associated with “HR”.
There are 127 active companies in Kapor Capital’s portfolio and over 90% of them are hiring and building teams. Since each startup/portfolio company has their own unique needs, they leverage our help, resources, and experience to help them hire diverse teams, shape healthy and inclusive cultures, and execute on their missions.
As a mental health org founder and former venture growth and people ops consultant, I have been able to utilize my experiences to provide innovative ideas while supporting the scaling of the Kapor Capital Talent Network, co-hosting talent engagement events, and develop programming to center and elevate the voices and experiences of communities historically disenfranchised and excluded in tech.
The special part of my job is that I am able to get creative and turn my ideas into action while serving as both an advocate and ally for equality and equity. Through my work at Kapor Capital, it’s become even more clear that building diverse and inclusive workplaces earn deeper trust and commitment from employees, which in return, fosters long-term engagement, productivity, and innovation. It has been an honor to have played a role in this via Kapor Capital this summer.
I will proudly continue to be an advocate and ally for diversity, equity, and inclusion throughout my professional journey. We all have a seat at the table and deserve to be heard and represented both in and outside the workplace.
My summer internship with Kapor Capital has been incredibly rewarding and eye-opening. This was my first experience in venture capital, and I feel extremely fortunate to have had this early exposure to VC. I got a rare glimpse of what it’s like to work at a top-tier VC firm in Silicon Valley and learned from the industry’s leading investors about how they evaluate startup founders and portfolio companies.
Working with Cliff Worley on Kapor Capital’s social media and digital content strategy also allowed me to better understand the ins and outs of the Platform Team. Getting to dive deeper into the marketing side of VC and how the Platform team operates has been such a unique and invaluable experience.
Interning at Kapor Capital has solidified my interest in venture capital and impact investing as a potential career path. I’m excited to continue my career journey and carry the skills and lessons I’ve learned this summer with me as I continue cultivating my passion for social equity and work to create a more inclusive and equitable world for all.
Aside from founder calls, diligence, and investment memos, I spent much of my Kapor Fellowship mapping an investment approach to the criminal/civil justice sector.
What venture backable solutions exist to the myriad of market failures that fall squarely on over-policed communities? The map parsed out investments at several phases: pre-arrest, the moment of arrest, pre-trial, in court, in prison, and post-release. I devised a sourcing strategy that centers founders with lived experience — from civil lawyers to the formerly incarcerated.
Thus far, I have sourced nineteen startups at the pre-seed/seed stage and eleven later stage companies. I am grateful to friends in Chicago, leaders at Kapor Capital, and venture funds from across the nation for their insight.
I came to Kapor Capital wanting to learn where I fit in the social impact venture capital space. Having spent time in internship roles at VC firms without an impact focus during my first year of business school, it was my intention to join a VC firm that aligned with my passion for equitable capital allocation for all.
I’m leaving my summer experience at Kapor Capital having an example of a firm that prioritizes access to capital for underestimated entrepreneurs and a clear understanding on where I can stand out in this space.
Throughout my summer experience, I’ve gained unparalleled exposure into the venture capital process, namely deal sourcing, engaging in calls with founders, conducting due diligence, drafting investment memos, and advising portfolio companies on strategies for growth at scale. Additionally, I’ve been able to help develop a business case project with the SMASH team and had the opportunity to engage with funds on the LP side. It’s been an invaluable experience getting to learn from the Kapor Capital team and from other diverse GPs in the industry. I look forward to the next stages of my professional journey and I’m confident that I have the support of the Kapor team to grow in the alternatives industry.
My summer at Kapor Capital not only was an amazing experience but it also affirmed my desire to pursue a career in venture capital.
Throughout the program, I was able to get hands-on experience in sourcing companies, talking to founders, managing deal flow, and closing deals alongside our awesome team. Working with the team also deepened my understanding of social impact investing and it also opened up opportunities for me to learn about other industries like healthcare, sustainability, and justice.
Coming from a non-traditional background as an operator, I got the chance as well to help analyze deals through an operator’s lens and also provide support to some of our portfolio companies. Kapor Capital’s Summer Associate Program helped set a solid foundation with the skills I need in my pursuit to break into VC.
The Kapor Capital venture capital fellowship was truly a stimulating experience. Through one-on-ones, investment committee, and deal review meetings, I was exposed to the nuances of investing in early-stage startups throughout diverse sectors.
Throughout the summer, I solidified my experience and abilities in sourcing, evaluating prospective investment opportunities, interacting with entrepreneurs, and conducting investment memos and summaries. Additionally, by working with Brian Dixon, one of Kapor Capital’s Managing Partners, I was exposed to the FinTech vertical and furthered my own research on consumer finance and evolving trends with digital banks and neobanks.
These past ten weeks have solidified my conviction to pivot into the venture capital ecosystem. I greatly enjoyed helping support companies that seek to close the economic, social, and educational gap in the United States.
My summer with Kapor Capital has been intensely gratifying. Our social impact mission is interwoven throughout the lifecycle of our work. This disciplined commitment to the mission has in turn strengthened my resolve to work in line with my convictions.
I gained invaluable perspective from undergoing the process of evaluating startup prospects, leading pitch calls, hearing how seasoned investors think, writing investment memos, and even saying “no” empathetically.
Through my thesis development within the urban tech space, I’ve been able to refine my unique point of view, identify multiple untapped market opportunities, build valuable relationships, and create a body of work that will transcend my time here. I am forever grateful to Kapor for empowering me with the experience, knowledge, resources, and relationships to take on my next goals.