- New York’s venture capital scene is rapidly growing as more West Coast firms move in.
- Several of New York’s venture capitalists said they draw their style from the city’s vibrant arts scene.
- Here are seven New York VCs who take their style very seriously.
How does a venture capitalist dress?
The standard answer: All Birds sneakers. Patagonia fleece vest. A copy of Yuval Noah Harari’s, Sapiens, in hand.
In 2019, an enterprising product engineer at the startup website AngelList thought those few items defined a Silicon Valley venture capitalist. He reportedly rolled them into a bundle that he jokingly tried to sell online for $500, according to Insider.
But now, some venture capitalists don’t necessarily see the merit in dressing like one another.
At a summit of VCs in New York this fall, guests arrived in bright floral dresses, tailored pantsuits, slim fit jackets, and designer sneakers. It was the first time that many of the city’s dealmakers had gathered together since the pandemic began. The pressure to impress was palpable.
“There is such a wide range of people that come together to form our tech community in New York,” said Alexa von Tobel, founder and managing director of Inspired Capital, and one of the principal organizers of the summit. She believes the display of personal style is an important indicator of that diversity.
In a city like New York, the street fashion often varies from neighborhood to neighborhood. The concentration of artists — and the artistically minded — creates space for uninhibited expressions of style. And the opportunities for people-watching are endless.
Many of the city’s venture capitalists are taking liberties with their style, too.
For Sita Chantramonklasri, the founder of Siam Capital, a unique sense of style also pushes back against the visual archetype of who belongs in tech.
“There should not be any “standard” about who looks like, sounds like, or seems like, they fit into the typical profile of a venture capitalist investor,” she told Insider by email. “In order for us to be best positioned to capture a diverse range of investment opportunities, we also need to be a diverse range of investors.”
‘Good style’ is often synonymous with luxury brands, flashy insignias, and rarefied displays of wealth. For investors — especially those who work with up-and-coming founders — deciding what to wear can be a delicate balancing act.
“I work with founders and a lot of founders don’t have much money,” said Ben Sun, cofounder of Primary Capital, another principal organizer of the summit. “You don’t want to be the guy that’s wearing the $2,000 jacket. I’m still a little bit self-conscious because I’ve been there. I was a founder.”
Many of the investors Insider spoke to said they prefer to take a ‘high-low’ approach to their clothes: melding luxury pieces with more budget finds.
Whether it’s a leather skirt, a pair of sneakers, or a fleece vest, most venture capitalists told Insider that their work style boils down to one thing: personal power.
“So much of what we call style is actually about gathering yourself for the work of the day and making sure you feel as powerful, and as effective, and as comfortable as you possibly can,” said Susan Lyne, co-founder of BBG Ventures.
Here are seven venture capitalists who take their style as seriously as their investments.