Communities bring a sense of belonging and purpose. We need that today, more than ever.
My day-to-day life at Spero Ventures is centered on a few core drivers: connecting people through community, building products that have a positive impact at scale, leading with empathy, and elevating women and underrepresented minorities in the technology industry.
So many of us have privileges we can hardly see, let alone understand. I was born in Saigon, Vietnam. When I was two years old, my family escaped just as the communists were taking over the city. We came to the U.S. as refugees. My parents made a new life for us in a small town in rural Pennsylvania. I was attracted to the transformative power of business and was fortunate to attend The Wharton School, where I earned a BS in economics and business. I spent a few years as a consultant, then pursued an MBA from Harvard. I graduated in 2000 and headed west to be part of the booming tech industry.
My first job in Silicon Valley was in product at eBay, where I saw first-hand the impact a single product — even a single feature — could have on the lives of millions of people. My first project involved coming up with a solution to introduce a fixed price format on eBay without upsetting our seller community. After we introduced the “Buy it Now” button, small businesses all over the world told us they were able to increase sales and grow faster. At eBay Live! events, we had the chance to meet members of the eBay tribe and recognize that we were part of something larger than ourselves.
After five years at eBay, I jumped into the controlled chaos of startup life. I spent four years at Oodle, where I led product and took an active role in creating our culture. Similar roles followed at a few other startups: Betfair, Stella & Dot, Keaton Row.
In 2018, I became part of the founding team of Spero Ventures (formerly part of Omidyar Network, which I joined in 2016). In my current role, I act as a thought partner to founding teams, helping them incorporate design-thinking and user empathy into product development and corporate strategy. I also lead our firm’s investments in diverse founders at the seed stage.
I bring an extensive product network, esp. through my roles as the Board VP of Women In Product (16,o000 female PM community) and co-founder of Product Leader Summit (a community of product executives). I also have a podcast called Product Decoded where top product experts share advice & wisdom around building and scaling great products.
It is such an awesome privilege to work with mission-driven, revolutionary entrepreneurs. I’m a firm believer that these radically-different thinkers will be the key to driving positive societal change.
What inspires you?
Immigrants and entrepreneurs: their determination for something better and their grit — they don’t let anything stop them. My parents are ‘The American Dream’. My father fought with the Americans in the Vietnam War and we fled Saigon when I was a toddler. We lived in refugee camps in the Philippines and Arkansas. My parents had nothing when we arrived here. My father was a civil engineer; my mother, who ran a motorcycle shop in Vietnam, became a seamstress in a factory, getting paid by the piece. She spoke no English, but she was fearless and endlessly curious. She started a string of small businesses and became a successful real estate investor. I’m still drawn to that scrappy, entrepreneurial spirit.
Why is community so important to you?
At a very young age, I learned the importance of people helping other people. Sometimes you have the strength and the means to help; sometimes you are the one in need. When we immigrated to the U.S., a family we never met before sponsored us and helped us get settled. I find joy in helping people in their careers, whether through mentorship; providing real, authentic advice about building startups; or helping people make the right connections. It’s so important to be kind, giving and helpful, and to make someone feel better after having interacted with you.