Joshua Mittler, 27
Company: Upfront Ventures
Business: Venture capital
Location: Santa Monica
What led you to this business and to this role?
I was in consulting before venture capital. My clients at my prior job were mainly large, established companies. I wanted to learn the other side of things — this creative laboratory of startups, newly formed businesses and technologies.
What are the key skills needed for your role and how did you develop them?
I learned a lot of the skills required for my job from my upbringing and my former job. I grew up interacting with people from completely different walks of life and cultural background. My dad is American Caucasian, my mother is Chinese from Hong Kong. I grew up in Hong Kong and actually didn’t move to the United States until college. That’s one thing that I’ve really been able to bring to this job, which helps me increase the breadth of my emotion, interaction and empathy for people. My former job taught me some of these hard skills such as quantitative modeling. And it deepened my understanding of businesses.
What are the advantages and disadvantages to being in this position in your 20s?
This job is very much based on network and relationships. I think my age is becoming more of an advantage in venture capital, because more and more founders are of my age. At the same time, venture capital relies heavily on context, looking at historical trends, having experienced things firsthand. I have less than three decades of life lived, so I’m still just at the beginning of that.
Why did you choose to work in L.A.?
I work in tech in a city that is more known for entertainment. I really enjoy that because I like the idea of being able to take from different people and different experiences. I moved to Claremont for college (and) Los Angeles for my prior job. I’ve built a community ... of people that I consider family.
Where do you go for business advice?
I go to people that I’ve worked with very closely, such as my former colleagues or people that have walked with me through life, like my mentors and those who I went to college with. I also seek business advice from people whose value systems and ethics I not only like, but I look up to.
How much do you factor in a company’s social responsibility when you make investment decisions?
We have this core belief that technology can provide solutions to some of the society’s biggest challenges. While company social impact is not the only factor that we consider when we make investments, it is definitely something that is important and something that we deeply consider.
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