Jess Li: VC at Soma Capital | Head of Content at Elpha (YC) & Harvard in Tech | Medium Top VC Writer

1. What’s your background, how did you arrive at your current role, and what are you most focused on right now?

 I am an investor at Soma Capital and head of content at Elpha. At Soma, I focus on seed stage investments in healthcare/biotech IT, logistics, and marketplaces. At Elpha, I host our biweekly office hours with amazing women and interview women leaders on the platform.

Previously, I did VC with General Catalyst, Global Founders Capital, Romulus Capital, and Female Founders Fund during school so I was able to break into VC that way. With Elpha, I started off as an ambassador and then a writer.


2. Was there a turning point in your life or career that pushed you to become the female leader that you are today?

I remember in college, I heard the quote "women pitch businesses and men pitch unicorns," essentially saying that women focus on the facts, research, projections, operations, and other details when pitching their businesses to VCs since they understandably lack confidence in meetings with mostly male VCs while men, for the opposite reasons, are able to just pitch the 5-10 year dream. I decided I wanted to go into VC to eventually change the makeup of VC partnerships and further support female founders more tactically.


3. Can you explain the process/inspiration/go more in-depth about your business/company? 

Soma Capital is a seed stage fund focused on backing, supporting, and partnering with companies along their full journey. We help through enterprise introductions via the TIBCO network, consumer marketing introductions via the ownership of the Sacramento Kings, capital support via our sister fund Bow Capital, and academia and hiring introductions through our partnership with the University of California.

Elpha is a platform for women in tech to speak candidly online. It is a space for women with diverse perspectives facing similar challenges to be able to offer support and share experiences, learnings, advice, and more with each other.


4. How has being a woman affected your experience as an entrepreneur, if at all?

I am not a founder but rather a VC so I can speak on the VC perspective. I think being a woman in VC has only inspired me more to pave the way for future diverse investors and founders.


5. Best and worst advice you’ve ever received?

Worst advice was probably to stay in investment banking after school even though the job was clearly not in line with my interests.

Best advice was to live life on my own terms since ultimately it is only me who has to live with my own decisions, so it is most important for me to be able to live with them.


6. Last question to keep things real, what was your very first job and is there anything from that job that still serves you in your role today?

Mowing lawns/doing odd jobs around my neighborhood! It taught me how to sell myself, be entrepreneurial, and be hard working!