The EVCA leadership is dedicated to building community across and empowering the next generation of venture capitalists through an array of activities—from hosting events, knowledge sharing, and connecting others. This EVCA Leadership Spotlight Series is intended to help the broader community get to know what's going on behind the scenes at the EVCA, as well as highlight the valuable contributions of those individuals who make the EVCA possible. Accordingly, it's a great privilege for us to announce this EVCA Leadership Spotlight on our very own EVCA Austin Chapter Co-Lead, Paola Retes of LiveOak Venture Partners.
Paola Retes is a Vice President on the investment team at LiveOak Venture Partners. Paola joined LiveOak after graduating from Stanford Graduate School of Business, where her main extracurricular activity was as a founding board member of Galvanizer, a nonprofit incubator for female founders. Before business school, Paola was an early employee at Ironspring Ventures. She assisted in all aspects of company formation and served as lead associate in the firm’s first four deals. Throughout her career, Paola has also held various operating and investing roles at Vista Equity Partners, Holt Ventures, Becton Dickinson, Deloitte, and Matterhorn Capital Management. Paola holds a CFA® charter.
EVCA: Could you explain more about what you do in your role as an Austin Chapter Lead at EVCA?
Paola: As a Chapter Lead for Austin, my role involves curating and leading networking opportunities that bring together the vibrant community of young investors in Texas. These events can range from fireside chats with local GPs to social gatherings, and provide a platform for insightful discussions, knowledge sharing, and networking opportunities.
EVCA: What made you interested in taking a leadership role at EVCA?
Paola: EVCA played an instrumental role in connecting me to the young investor community during my analyst days. Venture capital is fundamentally a people-driven business. I view my role at EVCA as both an opportunity to pay it forward to investors who are earlier on in their careers, and to continue creating meaningful connections with the exceptional talent in our industry.
EVCA: What is your most contrarian view on an existing or emerging technology trend? (5+ sentences)
Paola: Most AI startups will struggle to build sustainable companies. Incumbents have a natural advantage because they’ve already built a product and many of them are agile enough to implement AI features quickly. For startups to succeed, I believe they must have a tightly defined value proposition and the ability to execute quickly, ideally in a space that has enough headroom to capture value before incumbents.
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