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 board member, Kathryn Weinmann of Norwest Venture Partners.
Kathryn Weinmann is a VP at Norwest Venture Partners, where she is a multi-stage investor across consumer tech and B2B SaaS. Some of her notable investments include UPSIDE Foods (fka Memphis Meats), Praxis Labs, and Wyze. Prior to joining Norwest, Kathryn supported Business Operations at NerdWallet with a focus on small business lending. She is passionate about financial inclusion, serving for over 5 years as co-chair of the Technology Advisory Council at Mission Asset Fund, a non-profit fintech organization in the Bay Area.
EVCA: Could you explain more about what you do in your role as a board member at EVCA?
Kathryn: My primary two roles within EVCA are 1) serve as a board member and 2) lead the General Partner Mentorship Program. As a board member, my focus is on supporting Adam in scaling EVCA. This organization started as a casual happy hour group, expanded into a lively Slack channel, and has since become the largest community of pre-partner venture capitalists in the country. That kind of organic growth over such a short period of time is a strong signal of product market fit and hugely motivating to our work. However, such rapid growth brings with it an urgent need for infrastructure and thoughtful programming. We are fortunate to have generous sponsors like SVB who have entrusted us to make a difference in this community. My goal as a board member is to be an effective steward not only of our sponsors’ capital but also of the time that busy, up-and-coming VCs dedicate to EVCA. One way I do that most directly is through my work on our General Partnership Mentorship Program. The program is designed to provide pre-partner VCs with an opportunity to build a deeper relationship with a GP at another fund, opening a communication channel for tough questions that might be difficult to ask internally. I am grateful to have strong execution here spearheaded by Kevin Wu, who has direct experience as a mentee in the program. Thanks to Kevin, we have been able to scale to reach dozens of participants each year, and growing.
EVCA: What made you interested in taking a leadership role at EVCA?
Kathryn: As an industry, Venture demands rapid individual growth, but rarely do firms provide sufficient guidance for pre-partner investors. The path can be nebulous and progress hard to measure, particularly since there is no one right way to succeed. Adam has done an incredible job of reading the pulse of what pre-partner investors need and creating a safe space for folks to gather, compare notes, and support one another. I am personally focused on expanding diverse representation within the venture ecosystem, and it is organizations like EVCA that enable individuals with a wide range of backgrounds to learn from one another and grow together to reshape the industry.
EVCA: What is your most contrarian view on an existing or emerging technology trend?
Kathryn: I believe we are on the precipice of a huge shift within the food industry – biotech innovation in this space is unlocking previously impossible methods of development. For consumers, in many cases this means we can have our cake and eat it too. Cultivated meat serves real meat without animal slaughter or heavy environmental toll. Within dairy, precision fermentation is creating huge opportunity as well, including the development of synthetic breast milk that matches the immune benefits of human breast milk and vegan cheese that actually tastes good. Fundamentally, traditional animal agriculture cannot scale to feed the next generation – beyond the steep environmental consequences of current production processes, there simply isn’t enough arable land for feed or water to support the growth required globally. Plant-based meats and nut-based milks will continue to be a meaningful portion of the market, but the big unlock will be providing the same (or better!) end product in a more efficient way. We are in the early innings here, and cost reduction is a key factor in making these new models a success. That, combined with better supply chain management (via software as well as novel ingredients to reduce spoilage), creates the opportunity to make our food system far more efficient. If you are working in this space, I’d love to hear from you.
Interested in taking on an EVCA leadership role? The EVCA leadership is dedicated to empowering the next generation of VCs through an array of activities—running 40+ channels on from hosting events, knowledge sharing, and connecting others. If interested in pursuing an EVCA leadership role, click here.