Lia Zhang on How to Break Into Venture Capital and the Importance of her Community




Hi! Tell us about yourself!

Hi! I'm Lia and I'm currently an investor at Primary Ventures. I'm originally from the suburbs of Atlanta and moved to NYC almost 8 years ago now to attend NYU and have stayed in the city ever since. I spend most of my free time these days gaming and playing golf.


How did you get into VC? What are your tips for women who don't have a 'traditional' background to enter VC? I grew up in a family of engineers and always knew I wanted to explore something in Tech, so when I decided to go to NYU it was almost a non-starter to think about the intersection of tech/business. I pursued growth equity at Stripes after graduating and luckily met the team at Primary pretty shortly after. My only advice to breaking in is to be an expert in a niche where no one else on the team specializes but still fits a firm's thesis is key to finding a role regardless if you came from a traditional or nontraditional background.


My only advice to breaking in is to be an expert in a niche where no one else on the team specializes but still fits a firm's thesis is key to finding a role regardless if you came from a traditional or nontraditional background.

Tell us more, what does a typical day in the life look like for you? I'm normally up by 7:30-8 most days and start my day with a quarantine walk. I try to get some reading in before work and then line up my mornings with predominately investor meetings with afternoons reserved for founders and diligence calls. I then slow down work around 6:30-7 with another quarantine walk and playing a game of Valorant. The rest of the evening is full of gaming and emails in between.


What are 3 main things that you look for when investing in an early-stage company?

For me, aside from the clear team and market, as a consumer investor I frequently think about - would someone still use this in 5 years, is the product inherently social or can be marketed and look good in motion on TikTok/YT, and/or what do acquisition payback dynamics look like - is there repeat behavior or customer win-back potential to make the economics make sense at scale.


What industry or product category are you most interested in currently? Why?

Telehealth across verticals servicing specific niches. Huge potential and COVID has accelerated trust in evaluation and therapy online.


What question do you wish every founder asked you on a first call?

Why and how they decided to pursue their career as a founder or VC. I love hearing the story.


My close friends personally keep me grounded and humble, and my work friends lift me up and keep me company in this sometimes isolating job.

As you know – we think community is everything. How has your community helped you navigate your personal and/or professional life?

I've always believed you're the average of all the people who surround you so I prefer being a part of smaller circles. My close friends personally keep me grounded and humble, and my work friends (who I begin to think more just as friends) lift me up and keep me company in this sometimes isolating job.



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