Katherine He, investment associate, TDK Ventures, is one of our top 50 Rising Stars for 2024.

A passion for entrepreneurship and new technology led Katherine He to join TDK Ventures, first as an investment analyst and now as an investment associate.

During her time in grad school to chase her PhD in materials science engineering, He worked with her advisor to commercialise the IP that they developed through several government funding and innovation programmes, which gave her early experience of scaling up lab-scale innovations. She continued exploring the battery innovation space by joining a startup working on advanced manufacturing. She co-founded the Volta Foundation, a community for battery tech professionals. A report she authored for Volta Foundation got the attention of her future manager at TDK Ventures, who encouraged her to pursue corporate venturing.

Katherine had no previous VC experience, and initially thought the sector was for more experienced professionals who had founded companies and had successful exits. “I learned that this is actually another career path that I can start training myself to be a great investor from very early stage,” says He. She likes that TDK Ventures allows her to expand her knowledge of a variety of topics, not only on her expertise on advanced battery materials but also exploring battery recycling, lithium extraction, and other climate tech technologies.

The biggest challenge she faces is in keeping up with fast-moving technologies and the dynamic change of the industry. She says her role requires her to learn fast and always be alert of the industry movement. She says it is critical to keep pace with industry development and market change even faster than entrepreneurs, so that she can give the timely advice and add value to the portfolio companies.

To make sure she is on top of industry movements, He actively talks to people in industry and checks back with founders. “Sometimes entrepreneurs have no idea what are the latest progress that existing incumbents have already achieved, and they might fall into the pit of wasting time solving the wrong problem,” she says.

See the full list of GCV Rising Stars for 2024 here.