Key Takeaways from the GEN Z VCs SUMMIT

  • For VCs: Young investors often enter the industry thinking you need to have a massive network and do transactional deal flow calls to get ahead. Our world and generation is moving away from this to focus on building more authentic relationships — don’t ask for things, and instead be open and be vulnerable. This is also key to finding upward mobility within a fund and having someone to advocate for you as you progress in your career. For emerging fund managers, this authentic relationship building comes through as you’re pressure-testing your thesis and getting feedback from fellow GPs, as well as using empathy to win deals and the trust of founders.
  • For Brands/Startups: Gen Z can sniff out inauthenticity from a mile away. Working with creators and influencers has become a large distribution angle for emerging brands and incumbents alike, especially in today’s world where creators are Gen Z’s celebrities — they’re relatable, authentic, and have developed a sense of trust with the consumer that mimics that of a friend. Working with the right creators who resonate with (and are excited about) your company is important, as is listening to their feedback and giving them creative freedom. Abby Roberts (16m+ followers on TikTok & other platforms) noted that her audience engages more & products sell better when she’s actually excited about the content she’s making, versus reading from a script. This speaks volumes to how important it is for brands to allow influencers creativity in their partnerships. In addition, Gen Zers want brands to have a personal touch and voice that make every interaction feel like it’s one with a close friend. This helps you grow more organically versus pushing a narrative.
  • For Founders: You have to live your values day-in-day-out within your companies as much as you project them externally. Authenticity might mean something different for every company. Olamide Olowe of Topicals noted that in the beauty industry, the meaning of “aspiration” has changed for Gen Z. You’re no longer aspiring to be or look a certain way like we were primed to feel reading magazines growing up. Instead, brands of the future aspire to help you be the best version of you — it’s really about self-empowerment. Lisa Bubbers of Studs noted that brands have a responsibility to customers and the society within which they operate, and incorporating feedback while simultaneously not breaking promises to your community as it evolves is important. Founders like Bo Han at Buzzer live the ideal of being built by Gen Z, for Gen Z — this idea of co-creating alongside your user base will grow to be even more critical in the coming years, especially since Gen Z thrives on being entrepreneurial (42% want to start their own businesses one day). Buzzer hires Gen Zers from their Discord channel, participated in Gen Z VCs Beta Club to incorporate Gen Z feedback on Day 1, and even brought Gen Z investors onto their cap table at the Series A to make sure they have ownership over the product. That’s leadership, and that’s the future of brand-building for the Gen Z consumer. This is true for enterprise companies as well, like Common Room, who are helping B2B companies activate and grow their own communities.

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