Piva Capital Adds Julia Reichelstein to Growing Investment Team

Adzmel Adznan
Sep 10, 2020 · 5 min read

Investing in people at Piva has been a primary focus as we continue to grow and expand as a firm. Following a momentous year, beginning with the announcement of our first fund back in December 2019, we set out to hire superstar talent that aren’t only passionate and big thinkers, but are engaged, decisive, and connected — and bring immense value to Piva and our portfolio companies. As we close the chapter on our first Summer Associate Program where we worked with MBA candidates from Stanford, MIT and Harvard, and look ahead to another busy quarter, we are pleased to announce our newest hire and Investor, Julia Reichelstein.

Driven by her deep commitment to addressing global inequality, Julia sees climate action as crucial to reducing poverty, as well as making progress towards gender and racial equity. She is excited to back a new generation of technology companies that will promote sustainable planetary and human health and lead the markets of tomorrow.

Julia has already started expanding our team’s knowledge by diving into new verticals with the aim of identifying companies at the forefront of disruption. We are thrilled to welcome her to Piva, and look forward to her impressive work that is to come. To get more acquainted with our newest member, let’s hear from Julia about why she joined Piva, her unique career path, which technologies interest her, and why she chose to work in venture capital.

Meet Julia Reichelstein, Piva Capital’s Newest Investor

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Q: Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I’m a German-American hybrid who grew up between California and a small town in the Rheinland just outside of Bonn. While I spent most of my adolescence in the Bay Area, I still know where to get the best spaetzle.

I’ve been long driven by a passion to lower global inequality, and I believe people are most impactful when they recognize and leverage their strengths to advance social change — mine is a curiosity about disruptive technology, and my ties to the innovation coming out of Stanford and Silicon Valley. When I started my career in international development in 2013, there was a new rapid proliferation of mobile phones in emerging markets, coupled with the then-nascent adoption of machine learning, that unlocked massive barriers in financial inclusion. All of a sudden, millions of people around the world had access to formal financial services for the first time because banks and fintechs could profitably serve them — all of which were tech-enabled.

I spent the first part of my career advancing that technology disruption at Entrepreneurial Finance Lab (EFL), a fintech startup founded by a Harvard Kennedy School professor, that created alternative credit scores for the unbanked in emerging markets. I spent a year in Lima, Peru and then four years in Kenya with EFL, where I built and led the company’s first accessible mobile phone product. It was the wildest ride, and a great privilege, to build something from the ground up. Seeing it help people in concrete ways was incredibly rewarding: I met customers who could, for the first time, access a loan that allowed them to invest in their future. After EFL was acquired, I spent time in Somalia working with the telco to provide the first formal consumer credit and savings products in the country — an experience that entirely altered the way I view risk. Later at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, my leadership role with the GSB’s Impact Fund solidified my passion for investing in critical technologies and visionary entrepreneurs that have the potential to better our world. That’s the kind of work I’m thrilled to continue here at Piva.

When I’m not exploring promising investment opportunities or working with entrepreneurs, you can find me out in the sun — I love backpacking, trail running, open-water swimming, and the occasional mini- golf outing. I’m joining Piva fresh off a month-long backpacking trip in the deserts of southern Utah!

Q: What got you interest in working in the VC space?

I was first exposed to venture capital when leading a quasi-independent subsidiary in Kenya, building and managing a new mobile product. During this time, my work was very similar to an entrepreneur. In addition to leading the entire product lifecycle and learning how treacherous large corporate sale cycles can be, I also raised funding to extend our reach. I came away from that experience inspired to learn more about what a career in venture capital would look like.

The investors I worked with displayed a holistic understanding of the sector, and their “100 foot view” on where the industry was going was a skillset I wanted to have. The other piece that sparked my interest in venture capital was the very real impact that investors can have. Venture capital investors play such a critical role in funding the companies that can change our world for the better, and we need more money funneled to important technologies that have the potential to make a dent.

Q: What drew you to work at Piva?

Today, we’re undergoing a monumental shift in how we power our economy. The world’s largest corporate leaders, governments, and consumers alike are finally coming to terms that consumption must be sustainable for the long term. Piva is special because it recognizes that this shift is not only massively important to both human and planetary wellbeing, but also that it represents a tremendous investment opportunity. Beyond its compelling investment thesis and deep technical expertise, I was drawn to the care and commitment shown by Ricardo, Adzmel, Bennett & Maria to create an inclusive, supportive culture, and their care for the world around us. I’m thrilled to join a group of big picture thinkers, including the likes of Don Wood, Steve Foster, Rob Siegel, Issam Dairanieh, and Michael Idelchik, and am excited to work with top-notch companies that are leading the space and making our world safer, more efficient, and more sustainable.

Q: What types of technologies are you most interested in and why?

In order to support a better quality of life globally, a myriad of industries must transform to make human consumption sustainable. In order to do so, we must lower carbon emissions and create products that support human and planetary health. Some technologies are nascent, but are incredibly promising to push out the frontier, and I am excited to keep following those closely as they present great investment opportunities. I’m also interested in several other industries, including alternative proteins, new applications of AI that promote greater efficiency, and carbon utilization for a range of new materials from construction to feed stocks.

Q: If you could close this series out with your favorite quote, which would that be?

I often reflect on a quote from Ban Ki-moon, where he draws key connections:

“Saving our planet, lifting people out of poverty, advancing economic growth… these are one and the same fight. We must connect the dots between climate change, water scarcity, energy shortages, global health, food security, and women’s empowerment. Solutions to one problem must be solutions for all.”

We at Piva are thrilled to have Julia onboard to bring her experience and passion to the team.

Piva Capital: Insights

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