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Irene Wu is currently an investor at Blue Collective VC and Computer Science student at Harvard University. Having taken a different pathway to most, Irene started off her journey by taking time off from college after High School due to personal circumstances. She decided to make the most of her time off by working at the Rowing Blazers, at the time a small scale company. This was the start of her love for investment and VC as she witnessed professionals believe in the small scale business and make it successful.
What is venture capital?
Irene described VC as a financing tool. As a start up, there are many options on how you can raise funds. VC’s are an early stage private equity investors. Investors look for start ups that they believe can reach exponential growth over a long term. VC’s are suitable for businesses that can be scaleable which means it has different layers that can assist in determine the growth and value of a business. The popularity of this funding comes from the fact that a lot of businesses that are now the stock market are ones that were funded using a VC.
How has time off from school helped you and would you recommend it?
Irene talked about her experience and started off by saying that her high school self would not have chosen to take a gap year, she was sort of forced to do so. Looking back on it now, Irene mentioned that she was extremely burnt out after high school. She thinks that the time off from the traditional, linear academic pathway allowed her to grow as an individual, professional and most importantly, gave her time to rest.
What does the VC space look like for women of color?
Irene started off by mentioning the background of VCs. It was founded in the 1960’s by Harvard Business School professors who were all white males. This history of VCs has sadly continued with a lot of jarring statistics when it comes to the VC space and businesses that are led by women who have been VC backed. Irene talked about the nurture of VC’s and how a lot of it had to do with networking so it was often seen as unattainable to most. Women today are trying to break the stigma that this space is only for men by trying to create more female investors and get more women interested in the space.
If you could leave the youth with one piece of advice, what would it be?
Care about people.