Get To Know A BCV Associate: Zeeza Cole

4 min read November 15, 2021
Spotlight

Zeeza was excited about BCV for its thesis-driven approach to investing and apprenticeship model

I’ve always been drawn to people and their stories. I grew up on a farm in New Jersey, and believe that’s fundamentally shaped who I am. I’m fascinated listening to others’ journeys and how those paths have influenced their perspectives. I chose to major in History at Princeton University for this reason. It’s a very analytical discipline to distill and reconcile perspectives across stories and time, but a deeply human exercise, as well. I love the idea that we have so many lessons to learn from the past that will help us shape a better future.

After graduating, I joined Goldman Sachs in the equity capital markets group, where I had interned during the prior summer. While advising companies on IPOs and other equity offerings, we gathered information from disparate sources — management teams, investors, research analysts, corporate filings, stock market data — and consolidated it into a clear and concise thesis about the company; I found significant overlap with this work and studying history.

Goldman challenged me in fantastic ways, technically, professionally, and personally. I had unique exposure to pre- and post-IPO companies, but I was most excited about earlier stages of company building and wanted to experience it firsthand.

Hone In On A Sector That Excites You

Around the same time, I had family members working out of WeWorks. While I was experiencing a more traditional work environment in Investment Banking, they shared stories of a novel work environment: happy hours hosted by community leaders, spa water and barista bars, and office spaces with neon signs and succulents. I was skeptical at first that those types of office perks would make a difference, but the first time I walked into a WeWork the energy was unlike anything I had felt before.

It was clear WeWork wasn’t just challenging the concept of where we work, it was fundamentally shifting the perspective on how we work. My search for an early-stage startup experience simultaneously led me to a newfound interest in the Future of Work. I was eager to be a part of this transformation and explore how far we could take it.

I joined WeWork in 2018 at a time of tremendous excitement and high hopes, and stayed through a period of uncertainty and challenges. As a founding member of the Creator Fund, WeWork’s corporate venture arm, I encountered a new and exciting way to work alongside colleagues who shared a similar vision for a more collaborative, inclusive and flexible working style.

While I lived the WeWork vision of work within our flexible and community-driven office spaces, I also had the opportunity to invest in early stage companies focused on other perspectives and contributions to the future of work. I was empowered to explore questions like “How can we encourage people to be their most effective selves, increase collaboration, and retain the human element in our interactions in an increasingly digital world?” These questions — and the need for great answers — have only become more critical over the past 20 months.

Mentors Matter, Find Your People

At BCV, we take a thesis-driven approach to investing; each partner has unique experience and exposure to their respective verticals. This emphasis on specialization encourages us to explore our interests and learn firsthand from our partners.

I have the great privilege of working directly with BCV Partner Sarah Smith. Sarah worked for many years in HR and operational leadership roles at Facebook and Quora before diving into the investing world. I have found incredible support and mentorship from Sarah and the broader BCV partnership to help me grow and develop my investing style and framework, and I feel incredibly lucky to be a part of this team.

Joining Bain Capital Ventures in early 2020 has allowed me to further explore exciting questions around how we work. Alongside talented colleagues and mentors, I’m energized every day by the opportunities we have at BCV to connect with founders, share in their visions, and hopefully play a part in shaping a better future. Early-stage investing is deeply personal work; it’s far more than P&Ls. Ultimately we are investing in visions for what the future could look like, and the people and stories behind them.

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