EVCA Leadership
January 5, 2022

Leadership Spotlight: Impact Vertical Leads, Eduardo Laiter of Kapor Capital and Stella Tran of Acumen America

Isaac Snitkoff
EVCA Fellow

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 Impact Vertical Leads, Eduardo Laiter of Kapor Capital and Stella Tran of Acumen America

Eduardo Laiter, Former Senior Analyst at Kapor Capital

Eduardo Laiter is a former senior analyst at Kapor Capital, where he focused on investing in early-stage impact businesses helping increase socioeconomic mobility in underserved low-income communities. During his three years at Kapor, Eduardo focused primarily on fintech and edtech sectors, and spent time researching alternatives to student loans and businesses increasing access to homeownership. Currently, Eduardo is pursuing his MBA at Columbia Business School and is partnering with a New York City-based fund to develop an investment thesis revolving around enterprise climate tech solutions. In his free time, Eduardo enjoys scuba-diving, camping, traveling (30+ countries visited so far), and cooking.

EVCA: Could you explain more about what you do in your role as Impact Vertical lead at EVCA?

Eduardo: As a co-lead for the impact vertical our focus is on creating events that foster long-term relationships between impact investors, leading to increased inter-fund collaboration and the development of improved industry best practices. Historically we have accomplished this through small group events (in-person and virtual) which gradually incorporate new members into our community. Now that I am based in NYC I'm looking forward to planning east coast-specific events.

EVCA: What made you interested in taking a leadership role at EVCA?

Eduardo: Joining EVCA provided me with a supportive community of peers that helped me rapidly ramp up within my first VC role. A lot of this value came from individuals who had nuanced advice specific to impact investing, and I wanted to help facilitate that experience and sense of community for other impact investors, and scale it to meet the needs of many individuals. In doing so I hope our members would be able to have a greater, faster, impact on their respective funds and the industries they focus on.

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

Eduardo: Blockchain-related solutions, as they exist today, are only relevant to a limited set of industries and businesses. These relevant industries are huge, but the associated fees and inherent limitations in transactions per second (TPS) make it so that the use of the blockchain, in most consumer applications and low dollar value transactions, is often not economical or scalable. In addition, in many cases, existing technologies can replicate the benefits of blockchain-based solutions without these associated limitations. The diffusion of blockchain solutions will be more limited than expected for the next 5-7 years. In the near term, I expect companies building the rails that will facilitate wider adoption (ex: addressing limitations in TPS / fees) or on companies operating within a limited sphere of industries (ex: real estate or international money transfers) to be successful, but am bearish on the widespread viability of other applications as it relates to currently active funds.

Stella Tran, Senior Associate at Acumen America

Stella Tran is a Senior Associate with Acumen America, the U.S. portfolio of the global impact investment firm Acumen. Acumen America aims to find early-stage innovations in health, financial services, and workforce development (edtech, people ops, future of work) that remove the barriers to opportunity, mobility and prosperity for low-income Americans. At Acumen America, Stella invests across all sectors, as well as leads strategic projects such as the Medicaid Innovation Collaborative and Where to Next to support the broader ecosystem in serving low-income communities across the United States. Prior to Acumen, Stella focused on building the foundation of her early career in social enterprise and impact investing, with roles at Just Business, The Miller Center for Center for Social Entrepreneurship at Santa Clara, and The Ayllu Initiative.

EVCA: Could you explain more about what you do in your role as Impact Vertical lead at EVCA?

Stella: As vertical co-leads, we aim to facilitate new relationships, shared learning, and collaborations that not only support each individual investor in their work, but also build out the ecosystem. In the impact vertical, our investors cover a range of sectors, investment strategies, and impact goals, so we have the opportunity to share this diversity of thinking, as well as to cover strategic topics such as defining impact goals, measuring and monitoring impact, and portfolio construction. These strategic questions ultimately inform our investing, so my hope is that having a space for these topics can enable us all to create greater impact through the funds and industries that we work in.

EVCA: What made you interested in taking a leadership role at EVCA?

Stella: Over the last few years, it’s been exciting to see the evolution of the field – from impact investing strategies, the growth of more impact-focused funds, to early evidence of both social impact and commercial returns delivered by mission-driven companies.  We also now have a new generation of remarkable, high-quality impact investors that I’m honored to call my peers. However, there’s still so much white space and opportunity.

In our investments, I saw where collaboration with other impact investors could positively shift the impact and commercial trajectories of our portfolio companies. I wanted to build out both the ecosystem and field so that investors and these portfolio companies could create greater, faster, and more sustainable impact, and EVCA provided a great platform to do so.  

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

Stella: I’m excited by the potential of web3 and crypto to enable the more inclusive, equitable, and vibrant world that I hope to live in, but I’m bearish on the timescale of broad adoption. Decentralization is not just about the technology; it’s also developing the right governance and incentive structures across a number of different use cases. While an imperfect analogy, I think of Nadia Eghbal's research on the challenges that open source software developers have in maintaining projects and our web infrastructure as an example of the challenges of coordinating, maintaining, and incentivizing decentralized networks.

Interested in taking on an EVCA leadership role?
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