MoneyTalk With Venture Capital Investor Lauren
Could you please tell us a little bit about yourself.
By day, I’m an investor, by nights/weekends I’m a part-time engineering student. By all other hours, I’m a musician, dancer, and overall fulltime geek. I like to build things!
You work in Venture Capital - can you tell what is your role?
I’m an investor at Maschmeyer Group Ventures, an SF-based seed stage investment firm. We branched out of a German family office founded by Carsten Maschmeyer, who is a founder, investor, and shark on the German version of Shark Tank. We’re industry agnostic, meaning we don’t have just one focus, we look at tech startups in consumer to AI to mental health. I’m a Senior Associate at MGV, so I source potential investment opportunities, conduct due diligence and perform research on companies and their industries.
Do you also invest money your own money (in the stock market or other)?
Yes, I do in publicly traded companies, mutual funds, and even cryptocurrencies.
What’s your relationship like with money and personal finance?
I’ll admit I was late to the personal finance game. I came from humble beginnings, so I was never well versed in personal finance at a young age. During my first job as a consultant, one of the perks we had was working with a financial advisor. Tracy (my first personal financial advisor) really helped a lot in giving me that wake up call that savings, retirement, and investments are key to financial freedom.
What does financial independence mean to you?
Being free. Having the ability to not worry anymore about making ends meet and really seeing your money grow. Setting goals and making them happen. There’s a really cool company I just spoke with called Reel and they help women pay for higher priced fashion items like a nice purse but in a responsible way, they set aside money and then when you have enough saved, they make the purchase for you. I think this type of thinking is what provides a lot of freedom and removes the fear and anxiety about facing personal finances and making small wins to reach your financial goals.
What’s the one thing you indulge in?
Tech hardware, by hardware I mean sensors, microprocessors, or tech for my side projects. Currently working on this small, self-driving car using LIDARs (a sensor that detects light imaging, detection, and ranging). :-)
What is the best financial decision you have ever made?
I’ll say savings. I’ve been working since I was 14. I always had a job, but in the younger years I never saved, something always came up. So finally getting to a point when I was able to save and actually not fret about finances was a turning point.
Have you ever experienced a financial epiphany? A sort of wake-up call, where you suddenly think - “I must start doing things differently”?
Absolutely, I was actually diagnosed w/ a chronic illness and realised that getting my health in order was actually going to take some discipline. Some treatments and medications were covered by insurance, but a lot were not. So I had to think of a game plan and really evaluate my health as a priority and set guidelines for things I needed to save for. My health is not like a one-time big ticket item like a Prada bag or a New Year’s trip to Thailand, it’s a continuous thing, so I reached out to my financial advisor. Maybe it’s me - but some millennials think financial planners/advisors are stuffy, old school, and super expensive, but they’re not. There are so many awesome startups or services like Stash Wealth, Invibed, and Albert that really want to help people become financially sound. So I reached out to an advisor to help best plan for treatments, etc. That took away a lot of the worries I had.
What is Vestpod for you?
Vestpod is a powerful platform that brings a real-life approach to money, not the anxiety inducing approach, but a straight-forward “Yeah girl, you got this” type of practical approach that is super insightful.
Own up. Have you made any major financial faux-pas?
Absolutely. I’ve made tons. There was a time in college that, first year of undergrad, I would go out and buy new clothes instead of actually doing my laundry. It wasn’t that I didn’t know how to do laundry, it was that I was, well 1. Being ridiculously lazy (I hope my mom never hears this), and 2. I just didn’t think through that buying new clothes (from forever21 or something) was not financially smart. Also in college I really didn’t understand what an overdraft fee was at 18. I find that mind boggling, I was studying biology/pre-med (not an easy subject), but I didn’t know what an overdraft fee was. Nobody ever told me, hey, you need to have $X in your account so you don’t get this annoying fee. You can be intellectually smart, but financially stupid. It’s also a matter of your upbringing. I didn’t grow up in a home environment that well versed in finance.
Favourite book & podcast?
- Professional: The Code Book by Simon Singh
- Personal: Rudyard Kipling’s Anthology of Short Stories or World was my Garden by David Fairchild
- Professional: Invest like the Best, Origins by Notation Capital, or ReWork’s Women in Artificial Intelligence Podcast
- Personal: Myths and Legends or Happier w/ Gretchen Rubin
Lauren Pfeifer is an early stage venture capital investor at Maschmeyer Group Ventures (MGV) in San Francisco. Her focus is in AI, IoT, and cybersecurity. She originally hails from Southern California, but has lived all over the globe. Although her formal background is in economics, she has worked in a variety of fields like consulting, fintech, and data science. Outside of work, she studies electrical engineering part-time and also tries to find time to dance samba and play music. Lauren is passionate about helping increasing diversity in tech and VC, and serves as a mentor for founders and STEM students.
Where can we find you?
FAIL! I don’t have a personal website. Currently working on a couple of websites (Latina podcast called “Lideres[enTech]” and for a group I’m starting NGLP which stands for Next Generation Limited Partner Investors, essentially a global group of young folks at fund of funds, endowments, family offices, etc.
Thanks a lot!