From gaming-based tech startups to companies focusing on sexual health and fertility, young investors under 30 in 2023 are putting their money into companies created by and for their immigrant, people of color and LGBTQ+ peers.
By Alex Conrad, Maria Gracia Santillana Linares And Elizabeth Brier
FOr David Brillenburg JrInvesting is all fun and games. The 24-year-old founder of Dune Ventures dropped out of New York University years ago to help gaming startups get critical venture capital to turn their visions into reality. In 2020, he launched his own company and raised more than $100 million, and has so far invested $50 million in companies such as video game service Medal.tv and virtual reality game studio Ramen VR.
“I grew up playing. I understand games. I still play all day long,” says Brillenburg.
The youngest finalist in 2023 Forbes A 30 Under 30 Venture Capitalist, Brillemburg sees his age as an asset, allowing him to connect with brave young founders in the gaming space. But he’s also one of a new wave of figures in venture capital who are showing leadership in different ways, pushing it with founders — and each other — and introducing a new generation of entrepreneurs in increasingly important categories, from cannabis to water and The weather helps. Reproductive health care
Along with Gen Z and beyond, this year’s list of 30 Under 30 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 who identify as people of color, with 20 people including 13 finalists who were introduced as women.
This change is also evident in the companies they support. To Eric Lim, 29, investment is as much about the business as it is about the founders. Lim founded Potluck Ventures earlier this year to focus on Asian-American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) founders and create a space for that community that she aspires to grow. To date, Lim has raised several million dollars and invested in five AAPI-led companies, but his work isn’t just about writing checks: the investor also has a syndicate of more than 500 other community members to invest in and benefit from. gathered beside him.
At Limited Ventures, Kai CunninghamThe 28-year-old is looking to expand startup investment in his community as well. The African-American investor works through Limited to help professional athletes and entertainers invest their wealth. More than 80 elite athletes are currently investing through Limited, which has committed more than $20 million in startups, becoming more financially literate and successful investors in the process.
Then there is the founder of Spice Capital Maya Bahai, 28 years old, who believes that everyone can be an investor. Bajai, who previously worked with Kevin Durant’s 35 Ventures, describes herself as a product of the “Robin Hood generation” and had no hesitation in raising a $10 million seed fund for herself, more than half of which was funded by women. His partners focus on founders who are solving problems for the next generation of Internet-native consumers, including companies working in the fields of digital currency, capital, and society.
Leonardo Arango29 and Alexis Alston, 27 from One Way Ventures and Lightship Capital, support their investors of color through extensive industry reporting, podcasts and meetups. Others, such as Toby CokerThe 28-year-old from Felicis is a board member of industry organizations such as BLCK VC. And then there are those, like Hunter McNabb 29, from 9 Yards Capital, which proudly educates and mentors LGBTQ+ and other underrepresented founders.
Many of them are company founders, such as the Adapt Ventures brothers Mohammad Amada, 27, And Ammar Amadi, 24. Chas Pulido25 years old, founded Alix Ventures with a focus on healthcare and has made 15 investments. Tim AshlettThe 29-year-old drew on her personal experience dealing with depression to start the psychedelic-focused Palo Santo. Ali RohdeMeanwhile, the 28-year-old is looking to help early-stage founders at his new venture Outset Capital, a $200,000 check and Airtable from Target investors at a time.
Others, such as Clary Zoe29 years old, have established themselves in large investment companies. A TCV partner, Zhu has helped deploy more than $1.3 billion in companies such as Brex, Nubank and ByteDance. Morgan CheethamThe 27-year-old was the youngest investor ever to be elected to the board on behalf of his firm, Bessemer Venture Partners. You’ll find new and emerging leaders from big companies like Accel, Meritech, and ICONIQ in these categories as well.
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 might not be better than this David win, 29 years old who almost lost his life in a shark attack years ago. With a new deal, Baird raised $10 million in capital to support semiconductor companies. Now a partner at BlueYard Capital, the software engineer-turned-investor is helping founders in a new category, decentralized wireless (DeWi).
This year’s 30 Under 30 list was edited by Senior Editor Alex Conrad, Program Director Elizabeth Brier and Associate Editor Maria Gracia Santillana Linares. Our judges were Kathryn Haun, founder and CEO of Haun Ventures. Gary Tan, partner and founder of Initialized. Logan Bartlett, CEO of Redpoint Ventures and Under 30 alumnus; and Sarah Kunst, All Star Under 30 alumnus and CEO of Cleo Capital.
Click here for a link to the full list of VCs under 30 HereAnd for full 30 under 30 coverage, click here.
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