Successful leaders are the ones who dedicate their lives towards transforming their dreams into realities. They are characterized by hard work, perseverance, and the vision to succeed. They create their own roads to success by overcoming all hurdles in their path. Such leaders create their own stories and make a distinct mark in this highly competitive world. One such committed leader is Lu Zhang, Founder and Managing Partner of Palo Alto-based venture capital firm Fusion Fund (A.K.A NewGen Capital), which specializes in early stage technology companies.
The Journey Towards Becoming a Leader
Lu’s journey towards success began seven years ago. After earning a B.S. in MSE at Tianjin University she completed her MSE at Stanford as a grad student. While studying at Stanford, she worked with nano-thin film biosensors to build a non-invasive medical device for the early diagnosis of Type II diabetes as a part of an on-campus entrepreneurship program. In 2012, she sold her medical device startup by the age of 23. Following that, Lu became a venture partner at Fenox Venture Capital. Naturally, she opened her own Venture Capital firm, Fusion Fund, two years later. To date Lu has raised funds more than $100M and made 44 investments. Companies she has made investments in include Chatsports (personalized sports content and news using AI algorithms), Stratifyd (visual, data-driven actionable business intelligence solutions), Mission Bio (leveraging single-cell diagnostics for cancer treatment), Catalia Health (AI/NLP driven patient engagement to improve outcomes and revenue), and IAM Robotics (autonomous robots with fast computer vision for warehouse fulfillment). She also advises and mentors at various innovative programs and incubators in Silicon Valley. In 2017, she was awarded Forbes’ U.S. 30 under 30 and featured as an honoree of the venture capital category. That same year, she was also awarded Forbes’ Asia 30 under 30 in the finance category. Most recently, she was awarded the T&C 50 Modern Swans Influencer, representing top female entrepreneurs in U.S.
The Transformation From Being an Entrepreneur to Becoming an Investor
Lu transitioned from an entrepreneur to an investor when she sold her medical device company and started Fusion Fund two years later. She says it is easier to connect with founders and entrepreneurs who are setting up organizations in the market with her technical background and operational experience as a former entrepreneur. In addition, her international background supplies her with a global perspective giving her an edge in the venture capital community. As a woman in venture she says, “I have to admit, I have had experience where people challenge me because of my gender, because of my nationality. But I take it from a different perspective. The stronger challenge I get, the stronger my motivation to really prove that I can make it happen.”
A Venture Capitalist with a Vision
Lu aims to make Fusion Fund a premier early stage venture capital firm. Founded by an exceptional team of veteran entrepreneurs and proven international business leaders, the fund assists emerging technology companies worldwide and specializes in supporting entrepreneurs in North America to achieve global expansion. Fusion Fund supports entrepreneurs who build globally disruptive platform technologies and business models with the potential to bring in systematic change. The organization works with world-class management and technical teams that focus on disruptive opportunities in mobile, technology, consumer internet, digital health and other next-gen technologies. The fund has also established a serial entrepreneurs network to locate top tier founders.
Fusion Fund targets emerging companies with market validation and platform technology that is ready to scale. However, Lu emphasizes the startups’ vision, since in the long-term it will support the core technology of a startup. Some of the portfolio companies include:
Paperspace, provides high performance GPU services in the cloud for AI and data applications.
TVision, uses machine learning to gather next-generation media insights.
Paradromics, is developing devices that facilitate fluent brain–machine interactions for the development of treatments of neurodegenerative diseases. In July 2017, Paradromics was awarded an $18.3M contract from the Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to build a high bandwidth cortical implant.
Accomplishing the Goals by Overcoming Obstacles
Lu’s advice for young founders interested in entrepreneurship is to truly ask yourself why you want to start your own venture before choosing it as a career path. Young founders need to be highly self-aware of themselves and gauge whether or not they will be able to manage the challenges that a startup entails, she says. They should not worry about other people’s opinions and should follow their passion. With regards to venture capital, Lu is an avid supporter of venture capital as a career path. She sees venture capital experience as an essential part of the startup ecosystem.
Moving Steadily Towards a Bright Future
Under the leadership of Lu Zhang, Fusion Fund moves towards achieving new heights.
Lu has high expectations for Fusion Fund. She ensues on the journey to success with a positive attitude and humble mindset.