Vanessa Larco is a woman working in tech in Silicon Valley, in the San Francisco Bay area of California. While the number of women working there is slowly growing, Larco has learned how to be a successful entrepreneur from someone who knows her well. Her mother.
“Having a mom entrepreneur really prepared me for entrepreneurship. She would get up really early in the morning and get us ready for school, go to work, come home and help us with homework, then go back to work until two in the morning. So the work ethic and the sacrifice, we saw what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur. She had startups in software and she'd sold them and she started new startups. So, she was your quintessential Silicon Valley entrepreneur,” says Larco.
Vanessa Larco graduated with honors from the Georgia Institute of Technology, where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science. She says her mother too was in computer science in the 1970s.
Larco’s first job was with the technology company, Microsoft.
“Microsoft was a great experience in the sense that I got an idea of how you do things at scale for a huge company. I worked on Xbox, Kinect V1 and there was hundreds of people on this project. There's a lot of discipline. There's a lot of process. And so that was a great experience,” she says.
Working three years for Microsoft, Larco left the world of product management and building and delivering software which she loved to come into venture capital. The opportunity came unexpectedly.
“Now, I work at New Enterprise Associates (NEA). NEA is a global venture capital firm. We invest across software and consumer and enterprise and also in biopharma. Pharmaceuticals to medical devices, we invest across all stages from seed companies all the way to high growth companies,” she says. “I spend a lot of my time studying areas that I find interesting and then looking for companies all around the world that fit the bill for what I think would be really successful.”
Larco says having an opportunity to work for a venture capital firm, she assumed would happen much later in her career. But she also knows opportunities like this don’t come very often if ever, so when it showed up, she took it.
“I was so nervous to accept this big change and switch careers because I love product management. I love building products, but I thought it would be so great to get to spend time meeting entrepreneurs and helping them work on their products and their companies and invest in that.”
Larco says her mother takes all the credit and is very excited that she as well as her brother followed in her footsteps.
“We’re both in startups, we’re both in the Bay area and we both work in software," says Larco.
Vanessa Larco says working for NEA has turned out to be very good for her.
"I love what I do. I love what I do at NEA. I look forward to working alongside the team here to identify new opportunities and support the incredible entrepreneurs across the firm's portfolio. And I think if I'm good at it, I hope to be doing this for a very very long time.”