Careers in VC: Q&A with Allison Baum Gates

by Allison Baum Gates - General Partner, SemperVirens


17 NOV 2020

    Being successful requires the ability to relentlessly prioritize, while balancing the complex relationship between our two customer bases: our LPs and our portfolio founders.

    Could you give us a brief overview of your role and responsibilities?

    As a General Partner of SemperVirens, I am responsible for sourcing and evaluating technology companies that are transforming the relationship between employers and the employees, a sector I call “the future of work”.  I also work on fundraising, supporting our existing investments, and building out our strategic partnerships with Fortune-2000 CHROs who are the core of our platform for accessing, analyzing, and amplifying companies in our target areas.


    How did you begin your career in alternative assets?

    I started my career in public market derivatives at Goldman Sachs, then took a detour into the start-up world where I joined General Assembly as an early employee (which sold for $413mn to Adecco in 2018).  I launched our first products in New York and then in Asia. I saw how significantly our investors impacted our product development and growth, and I wanted to be on the other side of the table. Venture capital was not a real career path in Asia at that time, so I connected with another investor who shared my values and we launched our own fund.


    What does a typical day look like for you?

    Every day is a combination of meeting new companies, building relationships with reliable sources of new investment opportunities like accelerators, seed funds, and potential future founders, as well as supporting existing portfolio companies. If we are actively doing due diligence on a company, I spend time mapping the market, modeling out potential outcomes, and connecting with references on the market, team, and business.


    What does it take to be successful in your field? 

    Early-stage venture capital requires a balance of IQ and EQ. As the market becomes more and more competitive, investors not only need good analytical skills, but also a relationship-driven, sales-like mindset.  Being successful requires the ability to relentlessly prioritize, while balancing the complex relationship between our two customer bases: our LPs, and our portfolio founders.


    What advice do you have for someone starting their career in this industry?

    This industry is changing faster than most realize, so doing what worked before won't work now. Whether it's through analysis or direct experience, focus on two things: Find what you are authentically passionate about and discover what makes you different. If you invest at the intersection of these two vectors, you will find a way to build your own pathway to success in this industry.


    Has Preqin helped you during your career? If so, how?

    Alternative investment has historically lacked transparency, making it difficult to distinguish fact from legend. Having one source of truth makes it possible to discern what is actually working and what's not so that we can figure out where to invest our time, resources, and capital.



    SemperVirens is an early stage ecosystem fund investing in workplace tech, health tech, and fintech companies that sell to and through the employer. Their platform includes a leading network of Fortune 2000 CHROs, who provide real-time insight into the market during the diligence process and also serve as customers, advisors, and distributors for portfolio companies post-investment.






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