Built By: Sasha Said
Sasha Said grew up with the entrepreneurial spirit her parents brought over from two home countries in Asia, themselves thousands of miles apart. Said grew up in Norfolk, Mass., the child of a Japanese mother, born in Tokyo, who immigrated at the age of 13. Her father was born in Karachi, Pakistan, where at the age of 19, he dreamed of gaining an American education in hopes of returning to make an impact in his home country.
It was entrepreneurship that brought Said’s maternal grandfather, Yuji Yoshimura, to America uprooting his family and teenage daughter to pursue a dream. Born to a multi-generational Japanese bonsai family, Yoshimura was a master of the Japanese living art of cultivating trees in small containers to mimic the image of nature’s landscapes on a miniaturized scale. Yoshimura defied traditional attitudes in his home country about who was permitted to learn and appreciate bonsai by emigrating to New York state to pursue the work he would be credited for, spreading this ancient art form to the US, Said recounted.
“We have a very strong entrepreneurial drive that’s biological,” Said said of the American immigrant ethos. “Everyone is attracted to the American dream, but people who leave their homes and make the journey to actually come here are intrinsically more risk-taking just by virtue of choosing to brave a whole new world. These immigrants dream in solutions, they see how beautiful the world could be and they just naturally or innately want to create or innovate. Their currency is hard work, they leave their countries in order to do things they couldn’t do in the country they came from, so failure is not an option. They pass that spirit down from generation to generation in their genes.”
For Said, being an entrepreneur has meant putting herself through college waiting tables and taking odd jobs, never giving up hope that she would achieve the dream of investing in companies changing the world and making people’s lives better. Today she is proud to have been a part of the founding teams to build and/or launch 4 different investment funds and 1 investment group over the past 10 years, the last 3 in life sciences and healthcare technology: first in 2007 in NYC with Water Asset Management, a hedge fund, subsequently followed by Water Property Investor, a private equity fund; then in 2013 in Cambridge, MA after joining Waypoint Capital came Gurnet Point Capital, a growth buyout and venture capital firm launched simultaneously to creating Waypoint Capital’s corporate venture group the Investment Review Group; and now at Leerink Transformation Partners, a HCIT & services growth equity firm led by Todd Cozzens and Jared Kesselheim.
“I used to be the quintessential Asian nerd in the quietest part of the library, with earplugs in no less (some of you may know I haven’t completely kicked that habit) — I wasn’t always good at networking,” she said. “But I strive to do my best at whatever it is I do, so when I got into venture I looked around and I realized that being connected is one of the most valuable parts of the job. I knew if I wanted to be successful, I would have to develop that skill and while I endeavored to achieve it, a part of my personality I didn’t know existed began to shine. If I look at my life so far I’d say the best take away is never give up on yourself no matter the odds. I almost did so many times, but where would I be if I had stopped short? ‘You will what you want,’ and while you’re attempting to run through walls, you will likely realize you are more than you gave yourself credit for.”
Written by: Galen Moore
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