Gen Z VCs Weigh In: Top 4 Trends We’re Watching and Our Favorite Companies

The tweet that started it all…
  1. What trends are you interested in?
  2. What’s an unexplored area or trend you think can be served by a new company focused on Gen Z?
  3. What are your favorite “Gen Z” brands or companies?
  4. What’s your favorite mission-driven company?
  • Some are starting their own funds to fill a gap in their local funding ecosystem, like Dani in Southern California (California Crescent Fund), Raphael in Canada (Front Row Ventures), and Edgar in Spain (Enzo Ventures).
  • Some are aiming to improve diversity in their region, like Marianne is doing in the Nordics for female founders (Wave Ventures), where <1% of all funding goes to female-led teams.
  • Some are taking gap years from university to explore VC, like Ryan who’s spending his sophomore year in Beijing at a local VC fund to become immersed in the tech ecosystem in China.
  • Some have been advising people and startups since high school, like Nik who now is running his own business/fund. Two brothers Mo and Ammar started their own fund in SF and manage 2 additional offices in Dubai and London. Zibo is doing the same in NYC, managing a family office’s VC arm.

Q1: So onto the first question… what are the trends we’re watching? Let’s discuss the 4 most popular ones.

  • “In China, there was actually a University that opened last month which offers new occupational training for the mobile Internet era (ie: majoring in how to be a podcaster, how to be a live-streaming commerce person, etc.)”Tanya ‘99
  • “One of my friends actually makes a living off of Roblox UGC. Two-thirds of all U.S. kids between 9 and 12 years old use Roblox, and it’s played by a third of all Americans under the age of 16.”Ryan ‘01
  • “I’m interested in how educational content is distributed. Because of the content we have available today on Youtube and other platforms, in comparison, educational content is not as fun and engaging as it can be. The opportunity cost of attention is SO HIGH.” Paraj ‘95
  • “It’s easy to see a lot of gaps in the education system with classes moving online. Kids are fed up with paying $25–$50k to go to college and not fully be there and get the full experience. The experience was broken before COVID and is still broken.”Ben ‘98
  • “Higher education doesn’t prepare anyone for professional services… that needs to change.”Zibo ‘96
  • “The world is becoming more multi-player — I grew up playing single player games, but Fortnite changed that. Overtime any task or process as a single player thing is going to become multiplayer.”Paraj ‘95
  • “Traditionally when you think of gaming, you think shooting games or Xbox games. Roblox is a diverse set of games that are really social — hanging out, making friends. There’s also a vibrant item economy with limited items — a virtual world where people can interact in a really normal way. This is where social media is heading.”Ryan ‘01
  • “I’ve been following the digital persona — the blending of online and offline world with social and gaming, and COVID has accelerated this trend. Like when Animal Crossing first came out, there was an explosion in interest in Nintendo Switch. And with Animal Crossing, you see the UGC help drive engagement. You have people creating clothing or items that you can purchase or acquire, and many Instagram accounts were created that post about fashion trends on Animal Crossing. It really highlights the potential for a virtual social network that combines social and gaming elements. Even on Discord, you see people are gathering around similar interests, finding online friends, sharing photos with each other, etc.. Gaming is really bringing people together.”Michelle ‘95

Q2: Okay, so now where do we see an opportunity to build something new? What’s an unexplored area for a new company focused on the Gen Z consumer or knowledge worker?

Q3: Now that we’ve talked about our favorite trends… how about our favorite Gen Z brands and companies?

Next-Gen = founded post-2008 recession, Legacy = founded pre-2008

Q4: I also asked about everyone’s favorite mission-driven companies… and there was a ton of overlap!

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Meagan Loyst

Meagan Loyst

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VC @ Lerer Hippeau | Founder of Gen Z VCs | Advisory Board @ Girls Who Invest