Meet Jessica Zhang, Growth Ops at Folklore
Our team Q&As give you an inside look at the people behind Folklore.
Jess leads Folklore’s community-driven programs to support the founders and builders in Folklore’s family and the wider ecosystem.
Tell us about your journey prior to Folklore.
My interest in startups as an electric force for impact first stemmed from when I visited Stanford University for a student entrepreneurship summit during my last year of uni. This made me realise that people actually work in jobs or build companies for impact rather than street cred (new concept to me at the time, ha!). Unfortunately, the startup scene back in Australia was pretty non-existent at the time, so I’ve spent most of my career in strategy and ops roles. I started in management consulting, then moved to internal strategy, ops and “chief of staff” roles in private equity portfolio companies in their transformation phase, plus had a stint in ops consulting within a family office. I didn’t even realise how much the startup scene had exploded until I joined the Startmate Women’s Fellowship. This amazing program opened my eyes to a world of new possibility, and that’s also how I connected with Folklore Partners Hannah and Al.
Why is venture capital, and Folklore, the place for you?
The landscape for funding is changing so fast, and there are more sources of capital available than ever before – making the challenge addictive. As it increasingly becomes a founder market (which is good news for the ecosystem), this means our challenge intensifies and becomes more about how we network and build relationships at scale.
What most excites you about the Australia and New Zealand startup ecosystem?
The opportunity for ANZ to create a new breed of companies that are globally renowned for their people, team and culture practices. We are truly privileged to live where we do, and have been brought up in an environment that, to a large extent, is safe, supportive and multicultural. I have no doubt that ANZ companies will become lighthouses for talent, drawing more experienced startup builders and technical talent into our ecosystem.
What’s your superpower?
Reading the room :')
What’s a non-work passion of yours?
As an operator, what’s one common mistake startups make?
Treating customers first and employees as an afterthought. The same, if not more, effort that you place on your customer funnel and experience should be placed on your employee funnel and experience. No billion-dollar company was built by one person – and I believe that talent debt hurts more than tech debt in the long run.
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