Emerging Manager Spotlight: Sophie Liao of Oyster Ventures

“I know I look young, I’m Asian American, first-generation, female — I never expected an easy route at all.”

Theron McCollough

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Key takeaways:

  1. Use your background to build an unfair advantage in your investing niche.
  2. Hire slowly and make sure to surround yourself with the right people.
  3. Venture takes great patience. Be in this for the right reason and it will show.

In 2016, Sophie Liao launched Oyster Ventures, an early stage fund with a global vision investing in exceptional new-frontier technology. Now on its third fund, Oyster is the earliest venture firm focused on infrastructure that makes investing in private assets as easy as public investments.

Sophie started her career in media at CCTV & The Travel Channel, producing documentaries and hosting a travel show, before launching US-China joint ventures. She later honed her VC skills at Rothenberg Ventures and DFJ Dragon.

Sophie Liao, founder & GP of Oyster Ventures

“I knew it was going to be tough. I know I look young, I’m Asian American, first-generation, female — I never expected an easy route at all. I had people think I was my own assistant and were waiting for my boss to show up. There were a lot of stereotypes I have to deal with, which didn’t surprise me.”

Feeling she had hit a “bamboo ceiling”, Sophie saw herself ticking all of the “disadvantage” boxes: first-generation immigrant, young, Asian, female, not an alumna of an elite university. So, she set herself a challenge. A challenge to turn her so-called “disadvantages” into advantages and start her first fund.

“After all, I feel that investing is nothing more than information arbitrage. It’s based on what I know, where I see myself in the world, and market insights that I can see.”

Building an Unfair…

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Theron McCollough

Managing Director at Citizens Private Bank | VC/Tech; past Managing Director with First Republic,@SVB_Financial. founder, investor, limited partner, and banker