The rest of the 50 (in alphabetical order): Chen Zhou, investor, Samsung Catalyst Fund

Chen Zhou has been a US-based investor for South Korea-headquartered consumer electronics producer Samsung’s strategic investment vehicle Samsung Catalyst Fund (SCF) since July 2016.

SCF is an evergreen multi-stage VC fund that invests in the new data economy and strategic ideas for Samsung’s mobile, device solutions and consumer electronics groups. It focuses on developers of technologies for mobility, health, artificial intelligence (AI), cloud infrastructure, fintech, insuretech and other verticals.

Chris Chu, vice-president and managing director of the fund, said: “Chen Zhou helps lead Samsung Catalyst Fund’s investment efforts in healthcare, as well as other domains that leverage data and AI.

“Proactive in sourcing digital health ideas, Chen plays a strong role in developing Samsung Catalyst Fund’s overall healthcare investment thesis. She also contributes valuable insight in the genomics and personalised medicine space. The team values her strong enthusiasm and can-do mentality and looks forward to fostering her leadership skills in corporate venture capital.”

Being on a large global platform such as SCF offers exposure to various types of startups and allows her to make a big impact because Samsung’s business extends from consumer electronics, home appliances, semiconductors, healthcare equipment, software and services to drug manufacturing and life insurance.

Zhou said because of Samsung’s market reach and research and development capabilities, many startups wish to strike up partnerships leverage its platform. She said: “Working in CVC requires strategic thinking, which I enjoy. By bringing the right startups into the Samsung ecosystem, I can potentially influence the broader strategy of the company and enable new business opportunities.”

As an example, she said SCF’s investments in more than 16 smart machine startups led to Samsung’s $8bn acquisition of audio equipment maker Harman International in 2017.

Having helped build SCF thesis on data and AI for healthcare, which resulted in a series of investments in that space, Zhou said she was part of the team leading the investment in an early digital health company that eventually got acquired.

She added: “It was enormously gratifying to build the investor syndicate, to facilitate the collaboration with Samsung business units, and eventually accelerate the startup’s growth trajectory.”

However, she also mentioned a challenge when managing expectations externally and internally. “It is important to communicate with the startups that it takes time to materialise commercial opportunities with big companies, and it is important to communicate with internal teams that startups move very fast and you do not want to miss the chance to work with them when they are interested. At the end of the day, I find the work very rewarding because I like this type of challenge.”

Zhou, who received her bachelor’s degree in economics and mathematics with a physics minor from Colby College and an MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, said: “I enjoy making dinner and cocktails for friends. It is even better if they stay for board games afterwards – my favourite board games are Settlers and Avalon.

“I also enjoy building things with my dad in my spare time. It keeps reminding me how much I can learn from him.”

Edison Fu

Edison Fu is a reporter and Asia liaison at Global Corporate Venturing.