Spero Ventures

Sara Eshelman

Principal

Technology should be solving real problems – for people and the planet. We’re starting with problems first and seeking out incredible founders working on them.

As a kid growing up in the Detroit suburbs, I was surrounded by the legacy of invention and mass production. Against this backdrop, I studied economics with a focus on growth in emerging economies. By the time I graduated from Northwestern University in 2008, I began to witness my hometown’s re-invention.

I became fascinated by the potential of technology to solve real problems and create new opportunities for those who were willing to embrace change. After graduation, I worked for Monitor Group, a management consulting firm founded by Michael Porter. There, I worked across life sciences and pharmaceuticals, agriculture, and defense; regardless of industry, I was energized by problems without clear solutions.

I went to the London School of Economics to earn a Master’s degree in Development Studies and joined Omidyar Network soon after graduating. In 2016, I joined the emerging technology investment group, which later became Spero Ventures. As an investor at Spero, it is a privilege to seek out and fuel the success of purpose-driven entrepreneurs building solutions to the challenges of working and living in the 21st century.

  • What aspect of life in the future is most intriguing to you?

    As a resident of New York City, I’m motivated by the challenges of urban living. More than three quarters of Americans already live in cities. Our cities are becoming denser and more vibrant, but also struggling to meet their citizen’s needs. Many of the greatest American cities were designed and built for life in the 1950s. We lived here, worked over there, and shopped somewhere else. How we live and work is changing and ultimately becoming more fluid. Urban infrastructure, the physical space we occupy, where and how we obtain the goods and services we need must evolve. I think New York is an incredible testbed for solutions that are scalable across the rest of the country, and entrepreneurs here have a deep empathy for and understanding of the problems they’re solving.

  • What traditional industries are overdue for modernization?

    Healthcare and food. Both are deeply complicated by lengthy research and development cycles, regulations, subsidies, and ultimately consumers with cognitive biases that affect what they want and are willing to pay for today vs. tomorrow. There are very few easy wins in either industry, but dedicated founders often motivated by lived experience are working tirelessly to move both industries forward. Ultimately we believe in the power of the consumer to pull in new technologies that help them live better lives. But it’s a long game. It’s a privilege to be part of a fund like Spero with a long-term vision because it enables us to support founders to take on the big, audacious projects that are will ultimately transform their fields.

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