15 May Good vibrations: IU alumna Jessica Peltz-Zatulove gets in tune with her customers to become a leading venture capitalist
Jessica Peltz-Zatulove is no one-hit wonder.
When the Indiana University alumna returns to Bloomington later this month to participate in the second-annual IU Founders & Funders Venture Summit—hosted by IU Ventures on May 18-19 and featuring the best of IU’s global network of innovators, entrepreneurs and investors—she will do so almost 20 years to the day she graduated from IU with a degree in marketing and international relations from the Kelley School of Business.
Since that time, she has gone from being a successful corporate brand builder working with Fortune 500+ brands and a pioneer in the mobile technology industry to a leading venture capitalist and investment fund manager. Named by Business Insider as one of the “Best Female Early Stage Investors,” earning a spot on the Global Corporate VC PowerList in both 2018 and 2019, and selected by Forbes as a “Women Leader in Corporate VC to Know,” she’s also become a powerful role model for gender diversity and inclusion in the venture capital community.
Presently, Peltz-Zatulove is one of two founding partners at Hannah Grey, a venture capital firm headquartered in New York City and Denver that invests in early-stage companies redefining everyday experiences. Last May, Hannah Grey closed a $51.6 million fund, more than doubling its initial goal, with the backing of several respected institutional fund of funds, large corporations, foundations, blue chip VC firms, family offices and tech industry veterans.
Hannah Grey’s success reflects the philosophy of its founders, who emphasize the importance of listening to and understanding their customers, who work across a wide variety of industry sectors, including artificial intelligence and machine learning, healthcare, education, commerce, the future of work, fintech, web3 and SaaS. To this end, Hannah Grey pursues potential areas of investment via its unique thesis-building engine—”Cultural Vibrations”—which calls for a data-driven approach, including deep social listening and traditional research sources, to “unpack the cultural zeitgeist” and predict where the hearts, mindsets and priorities of consumers and employees will be in the future.
Peltz-Zatulove has been formulating this strategy—of tuning into and adjusting to the thoughts, ideas, interests and motivations of her customers—since her days as an IU student.
“Being in the Kelley School taught me to be resilient as a business leader,” she says. “Venture capital requires intellectual curiosity, intense problem-solving skills and the ability to be comfortable adapting in volatile market conditions. Throughout my time at IU, I was privileged to learn from exceptional professors who encouraged me to think strategically with a macro perspective, while also instilling a work ethic that is disciplined, detail-oriented and focused to build my career.”
Prior to founding Hannah Grey, Peltz-Zatulove, a thought-leader in digital marketing and VC, was a senior managing partner at MDC Ventures, the corporate VC fund of Stagwell (formerly MDC Partners), a digital-first global marketing network.
She also the co-founder of Women in VC, the world’s largest global community for women investors, which now includes more than 5,000 women spanning over 3,000 venture funds across over 200 cities and 70+ countries. She is an active mentor in the tech community at Techstars, ERA and 500 Startups, as well as a builder in several Web3 communities, including JPEG Morgan, and led the recent NFT project for Women in VC to raise money for financial literacy organizations for Women’s History Month.
When she teams up with IU Ventures at the two-day summit, she will have a partner who shares her mission to create more pathways for women to become venture investors and to ensure greater gender diversity in the leadership of top VC firms. In 2021, IU Ventures was named “Investor of the Year” during the annual Mira Awards, which honor the best of tech in the Hoosier state, for its intentional efforts to invest in and support diverse Indiana startups.
On day two of the summit, Peltz-Zatulove will participate in a special “Funders Panel,” which will explore current trends in VC and where the industry is headed. True to her style, she’s excited for the opportunity to talk with and listen to fellow investors and innovators, including IU students, while also taking in the sights—and maybe even a few sounds!—of the place where she began building the foundation for her success.
“This is particularly meaningful for me to be back in Bloomington—almost 20 years to the day of my graduation,” she says. “I’m excited to share insights and learn from the next generation of students, entrepreneurs and more to continue giving back to the community—and maybe catching a show at the Bluebird!”
Registration for the IU Founders & Funders Venture Network Summit, which is limited to 185 attendees and is near capacity, is open on the IU Ventures website. Registration is $100 and includes all summit programming and special networking opportunities. IU Ventures will also offer a limited number of “first come, first served” full scholarships for current IU students to attend all Venture Summit activities.
Read a press release about the summit.