Lizzy Goldman is a Venture Capital Investor at Samsung Next in Tel Aviv, Israel. Prior to Samsung, Lizzy spent two years at Olive Tree Ventures also in Tel Aviv. She pivoted into VC after 2+ years at Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs in securities lending. During her time in undergrad at Northeastern University, Lizzy took a mid-degree military leave to join the Israeli Army and served in the Iron Dome Unit.
Lizzy Goldman was interviewed by Adam Lieblich, Fund Manager at Big Red Ventures.
What was your path to Venture Capital and how did you get to where you are at now at Samsung Next?
I did my undergrad at Northeastern University in Finance and had always been specifically interested in interactions around money. I also explored other passions while at school and took a mid-degree military leave to join the Israeli Army and worked in the Iron Dome Unit. Once I returned back to the states, I completed my degree and did a 6-month internship at Goldman Sachs in Securities Lending. Following this, I joined Morgan Stanley in their Securities Lending group. After my years at an investment bank, in corporate boot camp, and the army, in real life bootcamp, I felt like I had the tools to pursue what I really wanted to do.
I then moved to Israel from New York for personal reasons and spoke to everyone I knew. This was my version of business school and I learned how to pitch myself and ask the right questions. From there, I joined Olive Tree Ventures (OTV), a digital health mid-growth equity fund. It was exciting to be at the center of the Israeli market and economy as so much tech and innovation stems from Israel. Following OTV, I joined Samsung Next where I have expanded my focus to all stages and to FinTech.
What types of investments were you looking at in your first role at Olive Tree Ventures versus your current role at Samsung Next?
As I briefly mentioned, OTV is a health and digital health mid-to-growth equity fund focused on Series B and C, looking for companies with around $5M-$10M in revenue. We had big check sizes up to $20M, took board seats, and often acted as a lead investor. This was a pure VC role where I had to think about fund economics, portfolio construction, and the best way to allocate follow-on investments. Because of this, the types of questions you ask are different versus Samsung.
Samsung Next, where I am at now, is the VC arm of Samsung Electronics. We are stage agnostic, invest in many verticals, and our thesis is to support entrepreneurs and invest in strategic innovation that could be of value to Samsung. We are a follow-on investor and have a check-size of around $500K.
So, what does your day-to-day role look like as an investor at Samsung Next?
That’s a tough question, especially for VC. I would say it consists of three main activities: investments, relationships, and analytics. Investments includes meeting founders and doing all the work around those specific companies. Relationships includes networking, industry events etc. Analytics includes all of the back end research to create a mental “engine” around what fields I should be focused on. Lastly, a big part for me in mentorship and giving back. Part of the Samsung Next brand is to be there for entrepreneurs. We want entrepreneurs to be in touch with us, get our feedback, and use us as a resource. Part of the benefit of being a strategic investor is just that – we are able to sit and think with entrepreneurs in many ways that pure venture funds aren’t.
What are some trends that you are most excited about?
I think what everyone is most excited about is what is happening in both the blockchain and NFT space. For me, it is a space I struggle deeply with. I am currently taking a course through MIT on how blockchain will enable services in the future and how it will integrate into the world we know.
One space I am passionate about is FemTech, which encompasses technology geared towards improving women’s health and lives. At the end of 2020, only 3% of VC dollars went into the space. Over the past year, more funds have started to invest in the space so I am specifically looking at what the next generation will be. Generation 1 and 2 of FemTech have been mostly focused on fertility, menopause, and menstruation. What I hope to see as the gen3 of FemTech is more around is how we include more women in clinical trials, how we ensure that there is technology to identify female symptoms of various diseases as well as men’s, and how women are incorporated into safety standards (i.e. seatbelts have been tested on male dummies).
Another space I have recently been excited about is all the innovation in the payments space. For years, consumers in the U.S. haven’t been engaged with digital payments, but the pandemic has totally changed that. Now we are seeing a ton of innovation in terms of how consumers interact with payments and around the payments value chain in general.
What advice do you have for startup founders looking for VC financing?
The first, is that I want to get to know who they really are. There is undoubtably a ton of content available online in terms of “how to behave in your first VC pitch”. Of course, there is good content in there, but I don’t like when I can tell it dilutes who an entrepreneur really is. Founders make this job exciting and the history of innovation is engrained in contrarian thinking. I might not agree – and I don’t have to. But the founding team should be excited to show us who they are and what excites them. It’s a peoples business after all!
I also think it’s valuable for investors to have a list of who they want to meet with and at least a mental explanation as to why. No two investors are the same – and each one investing in your company can bring something different. Understanding what a fund brings to the table is important for startups.
Lastly, when I meet with founders, especially early-stage ones, I don’t expect them to know the answer to all my questions. What I am really trying to learn is how the founding team thinks about different problems or strategies.
What advice do you have for professionals who want to break into VC from college, business school etc.?
You have to know yourself because this is not a profession for everyone. It is more of a lifestyle than a job and you need to define for yourself how you think of a work life balance, your career, and different milestones you might want to achieve. In general, I would say that you need to be incredibly proactive and have an engrained sense of ownership. For hiring, VC’s want to get a sense of who you are and what interests and excites you. In this regard, there is always room for different types of people.