In the Room with Eva Ho

The Room Podcast
5 min readApr 24, 2024


Welcome to the latest episode of The Room Podcast! Today, we have the privilege of hosting Eva Ho, the co-founder of Fika Ventures, a driving force in the tech startup ecosystem. Eva Ho is no stranger to breaking barriers, and in this episode, she offers candid advice for aspiring entrepreneurs looking to carve their own paths. Join us as Eva takes us through her journey from her early days in the tech industry to her current role as a trailblazing venture capitalist.

In this episode, we explore the role of personal history in professional pathways, knowing when to leave and take the leap of faith as a founder, and the evolution of the emerging manager landscape. Whether you’re a seasoned entrepreneur, an aspiring fund manager, or simply intrigued by the inner workings of venture capital, this episode is packed with wisdom and inspiration from one of the industry’s most respected voices. Tune in as Eva Ho shares her vision for the future of technology and entrepreneurship.

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Theme 1: Role of personal history in professional pathways

Growing up in Mozambique, Africa after fleeing post-war China with her family, Ho describes her background as at least atypical for a founder. While both her parents were limited to a second grade education by circumstance, Ho’s father started his own restaurant and was entrepreneurial in his own sense, though it took Ho many years of hindsight to realize his early example as a founder. Ho and her siblings were fortunate to benefit from the US educational system after relocating to Boston, where she would go on to attend Harvard for her undergraduate degree.

Ho describes the uniqueness of her situation while at Harvard, with her parents living in a Boston-area housing project three miles from campus. She describes her parents being unable to attend her Harvard graduation, needing to keep their shop open for the day — an unusual reality for many of her privileged classmates. Incentivized by the compensation, Ho went to work in consulting post-grad, soon realizing that money alone could not keep her on the predetermined path students seem to be pushed towards on campuses. Though many kids, especially of immigrant parents, grow up hearing a slate of lucrative options: doctor, lawyer, business person, consultant, engineer, Ho felt that she was destined to forge her own path.

Ho met two Caltech grads during her time in the Bay Area, noticing how different their vision for building a disruptive business from the ground-up was than much more traditional and formal capital providers and founders at the time. They even wore shorts, where conventional business people worked exclusively in suits. Ho’s initial connection with them led to her role at Applied Semantics, which was acquired by Google in 2003. This was one of Ho’s first big breaks, getting in from the ground level, in the tech space.

Ho also discusses her time at Harvard with Madison and Claudia, asking for their thoughts on how Ivy league schools have evolved in the past two decades to support future founders. Claudia highlights that the Harvard MBA program features classes like one she recently took called “The Entrepreneurial Manager.” An analysis of HBS graduates found that 50–60% of their MBA’s would become founders, in some capacity, by age 70.

Theme 2: Knowing when to leave and take the leap of faith as a founder

Between Ho’s early role at Applied Semantics, co-founding Navigating Cancer, a health startup, and her work as a product marketing manager at Google and Youtube, she has a depth of experience in small and large company settings alike.

She speaks to the disbelief many of her friends and coworkers at Google felt when she decided to leave her coveted role at the company to start Susa Ventures. Ho connects her decision not to let her identity and Google be “merged together” and her desire, stemming from her background, never to let herself be too comfortable in a role.

Ho unexpectedly got a taste of the investor side of VC after an opportunity to write a few $50,000 checks, an experiment to see if she would enjoy angel investing. Those initial angel investments sparked her passion as an investor and decision to launch Susa Ventures as a pilot fund with Leo Polovets, Chad Byers, and Seth Berman. Susa Ventures continues to be successful, with their focus on seed-stage investments in the $1–3M range.

After founding Susa in 2013, Ho decided in 2016 to leave to start her own firm, Fika Ventures. The name is inspired by the Swedish concept for “joy of the day,” describing small moments like a warm cup of coffee and time for genuine connections with other people. Ho said this name captured her vision for Fika, a firm she would build herself that would be most aligned with her personal values for the world. Ho speaks to her vision, perhaps idealistic, that VC investing at its best can be the GP’s use of capital only for projects of material impact that they genuinely believe in. Her co-founding partner TX Zhuo has been critical to Fika’s success since 2016.

There is no shortcut to raising that first capital commitment: Ho and Zhuo pitched over 600 LP’s to find their first institutional investor, Greenspring. The pair had to continually tweak their message around differentiation and continue to thrive in enterprise-focused investments across a diversity of sectors, including marketing, product and healthcare.

Theme 3: The evolution of the emerging manager landscape

Ho continues to have her finger on the pulse of emerging capital managers and personally advises several investors launching their first funds. She celebrates how much the smaller-size manager landscape has changed for the better, with over 3,000 funds managing under $300M currently in the ecosystem. About 50% of those funds have diverse management.

Much of her main advice for aspiring VC’s is to think about their realistic “minimal viable fund” size. In her own experience with Fika, clearing the $25M of a $40M fund hurdle proved to them that they would be able to raise the capital. Their first institutional investor, Greenspring, was absolutely critical not only for their commitment of capital, but vote of confidence to help Fika’s team secure additional co-investors. In the current ultra-competitive fundraising environment, emerging managers have to carefully manage the risk-reward of their fledgling funds, considering all the strategic partnerships that can provide the most help.

Especially for less-established VC’s, the LP relationship should be one that extends the investors’ network and provides expertise that more blue chip and established funds benefit from. Part of this true competitive advantage for emerging managers is continuing to adapt and continuously revisiting their narrative about unique positioning. Try to win in the specialty you truly excel at, Ho says, and do not be easily swayed to call your fund a generalist. Ho frequently revisits Fika’s answer to market demands for LP’s, staying anchored in the enterprise space.