By Ja'dan Johnson
Exciting things are brewing in the venture capital scene in Miami. In recent weeks, we’ve seen a growing number of local startups announcing successful funding rounds or acquisitions, a strong signal of the growing ecosystem. We’re also seeing a new school of talent flock to the 305 to build their careers and tap into the emerging opportunities available in the ecosystem.
Just this week, the South Florida-based angel investor network Miami Angels announced its newest venture capital associate recruit: Elle Leemay Chen. “We’re excited she (Elle) chose Miami Angels as her next career choice because she had a handful of great options in front of her.” shared Rebecca Danta, Managing Director at Miami Angels. In her role, Chen is tasked with finding and vetting early-stage companies and leading the investment process for Miami Angels.
Chen joined the syndicate on the heels of Bruno Lulinski’s departure. Lulinksi will be pursuing his MBA at Wharton Business School in Philadelphia this fall. In the interim, he has joined Alpaca VC, a New York-based seed-stage venture capital firm, as a Venture Fellow. “ I’m excited for the prospect of our city being very thoughtful about how we’re going to accomplish the next decade of growth.” shared Lulinski. “I haven’t even left to Philly yet and I’m already excited to come back!”, he continued.
With all this buzzing news, I caught up with Chen to learn more about her role and what’s on the horizon.
What are you most excited about in your new role?
As someone born and raised in Miami, I have seen firsthand the immense talent here and the opportunity to further develop a thriving ecosystem. I believe in this city and am so excited to get to know the local founders and contribute what I can as part of Miami Angels to benefit the community at large.
Let's talk tech and startups! Any cool verticals or industries you're scouting for at the moment?
At Miami Angels, we are industry agnostic and excited to speak to great founders in any industry within the early-stage software category. I will say personally, I love edtech and believe that the industry as a whole is at an exciting inflection point. In addition, I feel passionate about supporting diverse and underrepresented founders so want to be intentional about having an open door to founders from all backgrounds.
What was your journey like before joining the Miami Angels team?
I was first introduced to VC as a Summer Analyst with Greenspring Associates, a VC fund-of-fund with ~$12B in AUM. It was at Greenspring where I came across the phrase "we don't just invest in innovation to make money, we make money to invest in more innovation" and understanding that was the spark that ignited my interest in tech and VC. After graduating from Duke, I started off my career in NYC in investment banking at Credit Suisse. I created quantitative financial analyses and detailed pitch materials for large mergers & acquisitions and financings. While I enjoyed the work I was doing in investment banking, the quote from Greenspring always stayed with me and I knew I wanted to be an early-stage investor! I am so lucky to be able to start off my VC career with an organization that has such a great track record and reputation as Miami Angels does.
Favorite things to do in the city? What's your Miami story?
I was raised by immigrant parents and grew up in South Miami-Dade in the suburbs. As a result, many of my favorite things to do in Miami are rooted in nostalgia. I love going to my favorite spots growing up, visiting Fairchild Gardens, going to Santa's Enchanted Forest in the "winters," and wandering through The Falls and Dadeland Mall - so not what most people think of when they think "Miami!"
How can people find you and connect?
They can reach me through Twitter @Elle_Leemay or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Ja'dan Johnson is an entrepreneur and creative with an extensive background in media and corporate communications. I write stories covering tech, startups, and awesome Gen Z talents in South Florida. I love amplifying the stories of talent from traditionally underrepresented communities. Let's connect: Follow me on Twitter: @jdanjohnson | Share your stories at email@example.com
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