Empowering East Asian-Founded American Startups Transforming the Venture Capital Sphere

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In the last decade, the global startup scene has increasingly been dominated by successful East Asian-founded startups. In this new edition of Pretty Progressive’s series on startups founded by minority groups, we highlight some of the most influential and inspiring startups that are topping the charts in the Venture Capital industry, all of them founded by individuals of East Asian descent. Each of these startups not only represent a crucial keystone in promoting ethnic diversity within entrepreneurial ecosystems but also indicate the unimaginable scale of ideas and talent present within these communities. As we unravel the world of these pioneering startups, we hope to inspire our readers to follow suit.

The Venture Capital industry has always been seen as a bastion of innovation and disruption. It is the place where entrepreneurs with terrific ideas get the financial backing they need to turn those ideas into reality. Yet, for the longest time, the industry has been an exclusive club, with very little representation from minority groups. However, things are changing. More and more startups founded by minority groups are coming to the fore, scripting success stories, and inspiring others along the way.

Today, we explore some of the top East Asian Founded startups in the Venture Capital industry, their unique products, and the challenges they’ve overcome.


SWIDIA, based in Chicago, and founded by Frank Jiang and Jack Chen, is an advertising and marketing startup whose expertise in growth marketing has made them an ideal partner for consumer startups looking to accelerate user acquisition and retention. They offer a suite of services, including performance marketing, creative studio, and growth advisory to help startups scale up. Follow them on LinkedIn to learn more.


Located in San Francisco, Merged, founded by Kelvin Craver, is changing the game in angel investment, asset management, and financial services. This startup offers a wealth of resources to its exclusive network of high-earning individuals, including tax strategy information and wealth management best practices. Get to know them on their Twitter handle.

Endeavor Catalyst

In New York, Endeavor Catalyst, founded by Linda Rottenberg, is making a clear impact in the finance and fintech sectors by making strategic investments in Endeavor Entrepreneur-led companies. Endeavor Catalyst’s portfolio includes companies valued at over $1 billion collectively. Connect with them on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

World Innovation Lab (WiL)

California-based World Innovation Lab (WiL), founded by Gen Isayama, Masataka Matsumoto, and Shinichi Saijo, is a VC that bet on companies ready to scale and enter new markets, helping US startups expand to Japan and Asia and vice versa. Follow them on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Founders First Capital Partners

Founders First Capital Partners, headquartered in San Diego, is looking to empower underrepresented founders to become job creators within their communities. With Kim Folsom at the helm, this startup is transforming businesses led by women, ethnic minorities, and military veterans outside of major capital markets. Find them on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

PLG Venture Capital

New York-based PLG Venture Capital, founded by David Gritz and Erick Pereda, supports innovators in the insurance sector, believing that innovation in insurtech will democratize access to financial services. Don’t forget to check them out on their LinkedIn page.

Operator Collective

Operator Collective, located in Menlo Park, California, and was founded by Erica Schultz and Mallun Yen. This venture fund is changing the landscape of the investment world by mobilizing operators to invest in budding companies. Get to know them more on their Twitter.

BAM Ventures

BAM Ventures, based in Los Angeles, with Brian Lee, Richard Jun, and Shamin Walsh as founders, is firmly carving its place in the Venture Capital industry. Their values and vision can be found on their LinkedIn page.

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