From earning his degree at Stanford University to becoming a 4x World Champion medalist swimmer and USA Team Captain, Eugene has found himself at Bowery Capital. As the Director of Growth, Eugene reflects and takes us through his journey from a professional athlete to SaaS sales leader to venture capital.
It’s my third day in seat and I’ve been getting a lot of questions from my network about why I joined the Bowery Capital team and what my experience was like breaking into VC platform. So I decided to put pen to paper, or rather Arial to WordPress, and recap what led me to this career move.
With any career transition, it’s essentially a culmination of where you’ve been and where you’re trying to go. For me, the “where I’ve been” began with J.P. Morgan in Hong Kong where I started my career as a stock broker. The goal was to live in an interesting place, meet interesting people, and get exposed to a wide range of industries (through following stock markets) and see which one(s) I was interested in. I experienced first-hand how software and technology reshaped the financial services industry, and quickly realized that it was just a matter of time before all other industries went through a similar shift in orbit as a result of technological innovation, B2B SaaS being one of the primary drivers. I also learned that I wanted to be part of “the action,” not just commenting from the sidelines while watching other people build great companies and innovate.
Next stop, my foray into B2B SaaS. A quick 17-hour flight landed me in New York City, where I joined the sales team at Rocketrip, a business travel tech startup. The goal was to earn my SaaS sales chops, as well as learn as much as possible about how to grow a business. Over the next 3+ years, I spent time in Sales, Strategy & Ops, Product Management, and ultimately Business Development and Partnerships. Each role building on the next, it was an incredible learning curve and got me addicted to start-ups. The constant problem solving, collaboration, we’ll-figure-out-a-way mentality had me hooked, and I now wanted to broaden my impact and apply my learnings to help a multitude of founders grow their businesses. Enter: Bowery Capital.
There were four key reasons why I joined Bowery Capital:
1. Bowery Capital’s mission is incredibly simple: modernize business through technology investing. This really resonated with me because of my prior experiences at JPM (a business that had been modernized through tech) and Rocketrip (a business that was doing the modernizing).
2. Hands-on approach Bowery Capital takes to adding value for its portfolio companies. They don’t just write a check, they become real partners with their founders and go the extra mile to help them succeed. I relished being in the trenches at Rocketrip, and so I am excited to roll up my sleeves and work with our founders to get them from Series Seed to Series A and beyond. A lot of VCs say this, but it was clear that the Bowery Capital team lives it and treats it as a core tenant to how the firm operates and invests resources.
3. Bowery team takes an extremely selective and thoughtful approach when choosing founders to back. I strive to surround myself with high-caliber people (both internally and externally), and have a lot of confidence in the folks that Bowery invests in. Although their portfolio speaks for itself, this became even more apparent after meeting some of their portfolio company founders throughout the process.
4. Bowery team is second-to-none. I was initially drawn to the firm because my former colleague and friend, Jess Bernido, is Bowery’s Director of Talent and would be my counterpart on the Acceleration Team. I think very highly of Jess and the quality of her work, so the opportunity to work closely with her again was enticing. As I got to know the rest of the Bowery team, I realized there isn’t a better group I could surround myself with to learn, grow, and contribute in this next phase of my career.
My goal this time around is to learn the VC side of tech, get broader exposure to the inner workings of startups (i.e. work with founders, board observer, etc.), and ultimately get a better sense of whether I want to become a founder, an operator, or commit to a career in VC. I’m confident that breaking into VC platform and joining Bowery Capital is the best way for me to achieve these goals, which is why I’m thrilled to have joined the team! I have an enormous amount of respect for entrepreneurs, and I am incredibly excited to work closely with our entrepreneurs in this role.