January 23, 2024 | Firm News

Bending the World to New Ideas

Nicole Seah

Written by

Nicole Seah

With the start of 2024, I am thrilled to be joining the Costanoa team.

Prior to Costanoa I spent time at McKinsey working on go-to-market and growth strategy for retail and consumer companies, from grocery stores to fitness hardware. It taught me that each market has its unique dynamics, customers, distribution, and methods for sustaining growth. It also gave me a great appreciation for the nuances behind go-to-market strategy across different verticals. 

My work at McKinsey gave me the strategy lens that overlays some of my own creative background. In college, I started my own Etsy store, taught myself dropshipping, and sold handmade art items across Asia. During the pandemic, I built a social knowledge management platform for writers sharing quotes. These entrepreneurial experiences gave me all the more respect for the grit and self awareness required to be a founder.

At Wharton I majored in behavioral economics, which I think of as why humans sometimes make suboptimal or ‘irrational’ judgments to gain emotional payouts. My research centered around bundling: why people buy certain groups of items over others. This inquiry informed my views on product bundling and upsell in ecommerce.

My interest in evaluating preference and choice has grown ever since. How do we build conviction? How do we place good bets with limited information? How do we measure the gravity of our choices? 

I realize now that these are questions that venture investors grapple with constantly. The nexus of psychology and economics that plays into company building is yet another arena to explore.

When I reflect on my past experiences, I find a common driving philosophy across all of them. I believe in the thoughtful iteration of experiments: from designing products to working with vendors and other creators. I believe in writing as a natural output of thinking: from data-driven storytelling at McKinsey to penning both professional (investing) and personal (creativity + human behavior) blogs. Finally, I believe that a great venture firm with high integrity and collaboration is a tuning fork to the right frequency of founders and builders. 

Costanoa is that team: specialized, high conviction partners to founders from day one. As I delve into Costanoa’s areas of focus –  fintech, data and developer infrastructure, applied AI and security — the team’s deep B2B investing and operating expertise will be a great source of learning.

I feel lucky to be able to work with exceptional founders who bend the world to new ideas. 

If that sounds like you, reach out via LinkedIn and let’s meet! 


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