Featured Investors
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April 1, 2021

Featured Investors | April 2021

By

Costanza Carissimo, Principal at Cathay Innovation

Costanza Carissimo is a principal at Cathay Innovation, covering mostly B2B early-growth investments across Europe. Prior to joining Cathay in 2017, she was at Cherry Ventures, an early-stage VC fund based in Berlin. Before finding her true calling as a VC, she was once a lab researcher in low energy astro-particle physics at the Max Planck Institute for Physics in Munich. Costanza holds a Master’s Degree in Physics from Imperial College London.

EVCA: How do you stay connected with and cultivate relationships with co-investors over time?

Costanza: I love to set up regular or spontaneous video calls with people I connect over common investment interests and on a personal/intellectual level. One to one catch-ups with co-investors are extremely valuable to me: to put my thoughts and ideas into perspective, to help me see some of my blind spots, to share work best practices. With the world moving virtual, I have found that I need to be more intentional with building relationships. While I noticed an increase in efficiency, there is certainly a degree of spontaneity and serendipity being lost. I haven’t gotten as much value from larger online conferences and events, and I am still trying to understand how we can make the “virtual happy hour” experience work.

EVCA: What’s your favorite thing about working in venture capital and why? How about your least favorite and why?

Costanza: I love being a generalist: I like to delve deep on a topic, speaking to the experts, learning as much as I can, but then I also get energized by jumping into a completely different topic a few weeks later. The world is just filled with many exciting, important and exciting topics. The hunger for novelty is what pushed me to look for a different career outside of physics research.

And with regard to my least favorite thing: I love speaking and connecting to people, but when, as VCs often do, I fill my days with one Zoom meeting after the other, it can feel a bit of a chore. I end up having little extroversion-energy left at the end of the day to connect with loved ones or friends that work in different industries.

Chris Shanahan, Senior Associate at DFJ Growth

**Chris Shanahan** is a senior associate at DFJ Growth, a venture capital firm focused on growth-stage investments in enterprise, consumer and disruptive technology companies. Prior to joining the firm in 2018, Chris was an analyst at Greenhill & Co. focused on mergers and acquisitions across a range of industries. Previously, Chris worked as an R&D medical device engineer within Boston Scientific’s neuromodulation unit and at Acclarent, an ENT-focused subsidiary of J&J, and he holds a bachelor’s in biomedical engineering from Cal Poly. Outside of work, Chris has spent the quarantine skiing at Alpine Meadows, hiking around Tahoe, and watching the Premier League.

EVCA: How do you stay connected with and cultivate relationships with co-investors over time?

Chris: I love the collaborative aspects of VC. One of my favorite parts of the job is meeting and debating with each of you at industry networking events (fingers-crossed they’ll be back soon!). Over the last few years, I’ve been lucky enough to meet and form relationships with a network of curious technologists focused on similar sectors to me with whom I can trade insights, talk industry trends, learn about new companies, and debate investing theses with. Over the years, I’ve begun to learn how each investor looks at a category which helps lend perspective when the time is right to bring another partner onto the cap table.

EVCA: What’s your favorite thing about working in venture capital and why? How about your least favorite and why?

Chris: On a good day, venture capital investors have the best job in the world. We research a space for years, come to know the problems in the industry intimately, and one day an entrepreneur pitches her vision to solve those problems. We become entranced with that entrepreneur’s vision, pitch the vision to our partnership, and invest in the business. We now get to work with that entrepreneur to actualize their vision and, if all goes well, we’ve improved the world in some way, helped build a durable business, and created value for everyone involved along the way. We’re lucky enough to have the opportunity to do that across tens or hundreds of businesses over the years and, over time, can make a pretty amazing impact on the world. That’s pretty cool.

On the not-so-good days, we have to say no. After months or years of getting to know a founder, it can be really difficult to pass on a company, and I think that’s my least favorite part of the job.