From gaming-focused tech startups to sexual and reproductive health-focused ventures, young investors under 30 in 2023 are pouring their money into businesses created by and for their immigrant, color and LGBTQ+ peers.
By Alex Conrad, Maria Gracia Santillana Linares and Elizabeth Brier
FWhere David Brillembourg Jr., investing is synonymous with fun and games. The 24-year-old founder of Dune Ventures left New York University years ago to help gaming startups receive crucial venture capital funding to realize their visions. In 2020, he launched his own company, raising more than $100 million and investing $50 million so far in ventures such as game clipping service Medal.tv and virtual reality game studio Ramen. VR.
“I grew up playing games. I understand games,” says Brillembourg. “I still play games all day.”
The youngest finalist of the 2023 Forbes 30 Under 30 Venture Capital list, Brillembourg sees his age as an asset, allowing him to connect with the brash and young founders of the gaming space. But he is also part of a new wave of venture capital faces who are making demonstrating leadership in a variety of ways, paying it off with founders — and each other — and helping to drive a new generation of entrepreneurs forward in increasingly important categories, from cannabis to climate and reproductive health.
Building for and alongside Gen Z, this year’s list of under 30s in venture capital also reflects a slow but significant shift in demographics among startup investors: Finalists on this year’s list included a record number of investors identifying as people of color, with 20, including 13 finalists who identified as women.
This change is also evident in the companies they support. To Eric Lim, 29, investing is as much about the founders as it is about the company. Lim founded Potluck Ventures earlier this year to focus on Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) founders, creating space for this community he wishes had grown. Lim has raised several million dollars and invested in five AAPI-led companies to date, but his job isn’t just to write a check: the investor has also formed a syndicate of more than 500 other community members. to invest and benefit alongside it.
At Limited Ventures, Kai Cunningham, 28, is also looking to make investing in startups more inclusive in her community. The African-American investor works through Limited to help professional athletes and entertainers invest their wealth. More than 80 top athletes are currently investing through Limited, which has deployed more than $20 million in startups, while becoming more financially savvy and successful investors in the process.
Then there’s the founder of Spice Capital Maya Bakhai, 28, who thinks anyone can be an investor. Bakhai, who previously worked with Kevin Durant’s 35 Ventures, describes himself as a product of the “Robinhood generation” and hasn’t shied away from creating a $10 million seed fund to invest, more than half of that provided by limited female partners. It focuses on founders solving problems for the next generation of internet native consumers, including businesses working in crypto, capital, and community.
Leonard Arango29, and Alexis Alston, 27, of One Way Ventures and Lightship Capital, supports fellow investors of color through industry-wide reports, podcasts and meetups. Others, like Tobi Coker, 28, from Felicis, are board members of industry organizations such as BLCK VC. And then there are those, like Hunter McNabb, 29, of 9 Yards Capital, which proudly mentors and advises LGBTQ+ and other underrepresented founders.
Many are company founders, like the Adapt Ventures brothers Mohammad Amdani, 27, and Ammar Amdani, 24. polished eye25, founded Alix Ventures with a focus on healthcare and has completed 15 investments. Tim SchlidtThe 29-year-old was inspired by his own personal experience with depression to launch psychedelic-focused Palo Santo. Ali RohdeThe 28-year-old, meanwhile, is looking to help the startup founders of her new company Outset Capital, a $200,000 check and Airtable from target follow-on investors at a time.
Others, like Clarey Zhu, 29, have established themselves in large venture capital firms. A TCV partner, Zhu has helped deploy over $1.3 billion in companies including Brex, Nubank and ByteDance. Morgan Cheatham, 27, was the youngest investor to take a board seat on behalf of his company, Bessemer Venture Partners. You’ll also find promising leaders in the ranks of big companies like Accel, Meritech, and ICONIQ.
What they all have in common: an entrepreneurial spirit and a sense of purpose and leadership that transcends background, company size or investment stage. It may not be better embodied than by David Byrd, 29, who nearly lost his life in a shark attack years ago. With a new lease on life, Byrd raised a $10 million fund to support semiconductor companies soon after. Now a BlueYard Capital partner, the software engineer-turned-investor helps founders in a new category, decentralized wireless (DeWi).
This year’s 30 Under 30 list was edited by Editor-in-Chief Alex Konrad, Program Manager Elisabeth Brier and Associate Editor Maria Gracia Santillana Linares. Our judges were Kathryn Haun, Founder and CEO of Haun Ventures; Garry Tan, partner and founder of Initialized; Logan Bartlett, managing director of Redpoint Ventures and an alumnus under 30; and Sarah Kunst, a former All Star under 30 and managing director of Cleo Capital.
For a link to the full list of Venture Capital Under 30s, click hereand for full coverage 30 Under 30, Click here.
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