Underscore Team
5 min read

Venturing Into Underscore

From Building Products to Investing in People


 

Ever since I first sat down with FinTech founders to hear their visions to disrupt the legacy financial industry during my time at Quona Capital, I have been obsessed with finding new business models to tackle our world’s greatest challenges and working alongside entrepreneurs to scale such innovations. That’s why I’m excited to share that I’m joining Underscore VC, a founder-centric firm investing in visionary entrepreneurs and pursuing a dynamic community-driven approach to venture capital. 

After completing my joint-degree MBA & MPP program at Harvard Business School and Harvard Kennedy School, I most recently worked as a product leader at Devoted Health, a FinTech unicorn disrupting health insurance for the Medicare population. Prior to that, I was at CVS Health’s Digital Innovation Lab, where I worked with cross-functional teams to successfully launch nationwide on-demand prescription delivery products and MinuteClinic’s virtual care products. 

Those experiences, and the great mentors and colleagues I had the privilege of working with along the way, taught me that it takes a community to build a great company. There is an old saying that “the strength of the wolf is the pack.” Being a startup founder can often be a very lonely experience, but through Underscore VC, startup founders no longer have to go it alone. I’m thrilled to work with the Underscore team to support founders by surrounding them with their “wolf pack” that will go the distance alongside them until they realize their entrepreneurial dreams. 

 

Why Venture Capital? 

While I enjoyed my operational experience launching new products and managing strategic partnerships for Fortune 100 and early-stage companies, I’m excited to join the venture capital industry. VC is one of the most impactful industries propelling innovation in technology, creating jobs, and scaling businesses that have transformed the U.S. economy, as the below infographic illustrates.

Source: Stanford Graduate School of Business – Ilya A. Strebulaev, Will Gornall

The largest tech giants of our generation (e.g., Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Google, Facebook) may not even exist today without the pioneering investors who chose to believe in visionary founders when these companies were mere concepts. There’s nothing more exciting to me than investing in the next generation of founders who are tackling the greatest challenges of our time and pushing the boundaries of cutting-edge technology. 

 

Why Underscore VC? 

1) All-Star Community

As a product leader who was previously a member of the Underscore Core, I was blown away by the caliber of entrepreneurs and operational leaders who have been regularly connecting to help one another grow their businesses. This all-star community of Boston’s best talent is a major reason why I joined Underscore. 

2) Incredible VC Partner for First-Time & Serial Founders 

I was drawn to Underscore VC’s dedication to truly empowering founders not only with capital, but also through the Underscore Core, UFirst Accelerator, and the entrepreneurial education series called Startup Secrets

Even the most experienced serial founders will find value in tapping into the Core’s wide range of functional and industry-specific expertise as they scale their companies. And for those founders that find themselves in the Underscore portfolio, there’s the opportunity to bring Core Partners to the table to serve as expert mentors. Because these Core Partners are uniquely incentivized with a portion of Underscore’s carry, portfolio companies benefit from aligned advisors who are motivated to truly help founders accelerate their businesses. 

The Underscore team also goes above and beyond supporting first-time founders through an accelerator and entrepreneurial training opportunities that are uniquely designed to ensure success for new entrepreneurs. I was personally impressed by the outstanding support that the Underscore team extended to one of my own HBS classmates by sharing strategic guidance, providing office space for his team, and connecting him with a fantastic sales executive to drive the next phase of growth for his business. 

3) Investing in Boston 

Boston is a city that I’ve personally fallen in love with while living here for more than a decade. This is where I first met my husband. It’s where I completed both my undergraduate and graduate programs at Wellesley and Harvard. And whether it’s cheering for the Celtics at TD Garden with a raucous Boston crowd or joining a Smart Cities hackathon at the Harvard Innovation Lab, I love the vibrancy and intellectual prowess of this city. 

I’ve been deeply immersed in Boston’s innovation and startup ecosystem over the years – as a judge at MassChallenge, serving on the investment committee as a Rock Venture Partner for the HBS Rock Accelerator program, and advising startup founders at Harvard’s Rock Center for Entrepreneurship. Everyday I’m inspired by the exceptional talent in Boston. I’m humbled to be immersed amongst the greatest thought leaders who are collectively tackling some of the world’s most pressing challenges such as cybersecurity, financial inclusion, climate change, and access to critical products and services such as healthcare. 

This dynamic startup ecosystem in Boston is transforming into a major hub where the brightest minds are gathered to reimagine and build a new future together. I’m doubling down on Boston with Underscore and invite you to join us as you embark on your entrepreneurial adventures! 

 

What’s Next? FinTech, Artificial Intelligence, and Beyond 

I’ll be leading Underscore VC’s sourcing and investing efforts in startups across a wide range of industry segments such as FinTech, InsurTech, AI/ML, B2B enterprise SaaS, and Digital Health. I will be drawing on my experiences as a product leader and go-to-market operator, as well as my background working on FinTech deals at Quona Capital and shaping digital health investment theses at Bain Capital.

 

I’d love to connect with you if you are interested in: 

  • Exploring opportunities to start your own business 
  • Joining one of our meetups with leading product managers at Boston’s best companies 
  • Nerding out about the latest product and technology trends across the world 

 

You can reach me at sooah@underscore.vc. I look forward to hearing your story and partnering with you on your journey.