Pocket Sun, SoGal Ventures: 'I don't look anything like a typical VC'

How a 25-year-old Asian entrepreneur is redefining the world of venture capital.

by Kate Bassett
Last Updated: 25 Jul 2017
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Entrepreneurs

Last year, entrepreneur and venture capitalist Pocket Sun appeared on the cover of Forbes Asia Magazine. Aged 24, she was its youngest ever cover star.

Sun is the founder of SoGal, a female entrepreneur community with 50,000 millennial women around the world. She’s also behind the world's first female-led millennial venture capital firm, SoGal Ventures. In less than two years, Sun and business partner Elizabeth Galbut have invested in 40 startups across the US and Asia. Two of these startups have already been acquired. 

Born and raised in China, Sun moved to the US when she was 18 to study business administration in Virginia before heading west to do a Master's in entrepreneurship and innovation at the University of Southern California, then applying for a training programme for venture capital investors. 

Sun describes herself as an ‘outlier’ in the world of VC. 'More than 90% of venture capital partners are men, which means women are largely absent when it comes to making important investment decisions that could shape the future that we live in,' she says. 'As a result, only 2.2% of all the venture capital funding went to female CEOs last year.'

Those numbers drove her to change the game. 'I don’t look anything like a typical VC and hell I was scared when I started my own VC firm at the age of 24,' she admits. 'It is a brutal uphill battle. We live in a system that has boundaries and constraints with policies and laws that are centuries old. But innovation always comes from the outside. So when I couldn’t find enough role models, I decided to become one.'

Sun and Galbut initially made tiny investments into 30 companies to prove their thesis and build a track record. ‘With each investment, we learned, and earned credibility,’ she says. Now they have millions of dollars under management and 10 investments in their first fund. ‘We invest in the change we wish to see in the world, so we’ve put money into businesses that are revolutionising women’s sexual wellness, making healthcare accessible and changing the perception of women in media.’

Sun believes that women are one of the only remaining arbitrage investment opportunities: 'After looking at thousands of deals, I found that time and time again, women-led startups have better traction, better profitability, better capital efficiency, and we can invest at better prices.'

And yet gender disparity in entrepreneurship and venture capital is getting worse. 'Compared to a few years ago, there is now a smaller percentage of women getting funded or becoming decision makers in venture,' explains Sun.

‘My mission is simple: to redefine the next generation of diverse entrepreneurs and investors. I want to create a new wealth generation, made of women.’

Pocket was a guest speaker at Dell Women's Entrepreneur Network Summit in San Francisco last week.

 

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