Featured Investors
October 4, 2022

Featured Investors | October 2022 - Zhou Zang of Corazon Capital and Nishant Singh of Playground Global

Isaac Snitkoff
EVCA Fellow

Zhou Zang, Senior Associate at Corazon Capital

Zhou Zang is a Senior Associate at Corazon Capital, where she focuses on investments in early-stage companies spanning marketplaces, health and wellness, consumer-facing tech, and urban tech. Prior to joining Corazon Capital in 2019, she was a strategy consultant at L.E.K. Consulting, where she focused on growth strategy and M&A due diligence projects for corporate and private equity clients across retail & consumer, healthcare, and technology sectors. Zhou received her MBA with honors from The University of Chicago Booth School of Business and has double majors from The University of Chicago in Economics and Geography. Zhou currently lives in Chicago, where she has built a mini urban farm in her high-rise apartment living room. She loves browsing art and architecture, playing racket sports, and exploring new food.

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

Zhou: My favorite thing about working in VC, especially as a junior investor, is having the opportunity to grow together with the founders. I respect founders that are industry veterans, domain experts that have no problem running things entirely on their own, but I love opportunities to work with determined yet collaborative founders that want to tackle the tough questions together - these experiences strengthen my bond with the founders and make my job so much more interesting.    

I understand that navigating uncertainty is an inevitable part of working in VC, but there are times when I find the lack of control over outcomes exasperating. I have to remind myself at times that despite giving it my 100% when it comes to deal diligence or portfolio support, there will always be evolving market conditions and management decisions that are simply unexpected and outside of my control.

EVCA: What is your most contrarian view on an existing or emerging technology trend?

Zhou: I have seen a lot of speculation around how social commerce adoption in the US will follow that in China and scale rapidly in the next few years. I would argue that market-specific dynamics such as the lack of super apps and technological frictions in areas such as payment solutions might hinder the speed of such adoption, and the winner in this market might not be an existing social media player we see today.

Nishant Singh, Analyst at Playground Global

Nishant Singh is a Venture Investor at Playground Global, an early-stage VC firm investing in emerging technology and science. He grew up in a family of builders–engineers, designers–and has always been fascinated by how the “stuff we build” can be scaled and commercialized in the real world. 

He is drawn to companies that challenge the state of the art in critical industries by integrating breakthrough technologies in unprecedented ways. That can mean applying novel automation/AI tools to new verticals, developing technologies that scale our ability to compute and manufacture, or fostering a stronger connection between Earth and Space.

Prior to joining Playground, Nishant spent time as an engineer, consultant, founder and researcher at places like Bain, Flinks, Columbia and one of Canada’s leading think tanks in economics and public policy. He has degrees in Computer Science and Economics from McGill University.

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

Nishant: It’s an incredibly privileged position to be able to regularly engage with those building the next generation of things that matter and being able to help support their vision. At Playground, we have a team with rich operating and technical backgrounds and that’s reflected in our portfolio, from quantum computers to mRNA to 3D printed rockets. Having the opportunity to learn from and support founders who have such conviction towards tackling the problems that will impact generations is deeply motivating.

Navigating the interplay between pragmatism and passion is often the most difficult challenge in our industry. Some great ideas are too early, targeting too small of a market, or are hugely impactful, yet hard to commercialize and often don’t fit into the expectations of a venture return.

EVCA: What is your most contrarian view on an existing or emerging technology trend?

Nishant: If we are going to solve the existential challenges we face, then we cannot disperse our efforts across the things that really don’t matter. In my first weeks at Playground, I came across a database with over 6 million companies listed, from stealth start-ups to publicly traded companies and I quickly realized that the surface area for investment is so vast that it bogs down the speed at which technologies can have an impact. The companies of the next 50 years are going to require intense amounts of capital and we are distributing our wealth across too many things, preventing us from capitalizing on the companies that are building the future we need.