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Expert Advice for the Next Generation of Founders and Leaders

August 23, 2023
By Christina Pasanen

Over the span of nine weeks, we’ve loved getting to know this year’s 21 GGV NextGen Fellows. Each spent the summer interning at a GGV portfolio company, and each week, the group came together to connect and learn from each other

In these virtual sessions, these NextGen Fellows not only heard directly from founders, investors, journalists, recruiters, and other industry experts, but they also got the chance to ask all the hard questions. We remain grateful to the GGV community for supporting this next generation of innovators.

Here’s a look back at some of the best advice that the GGV community passed along this summer:

Be open to new opportunities

“A lot of times we think that we have to know exactly every step that you're going to take, like it's going to be this linear progression of your career. But actually, I think most of the successful people who I look up to at least have had so many career pivots and kind of a winding road to where they are.” —Chelcie Taylor, who started out as a GGV intern before joining full-time as an investor

Don’t let the fine print hold you back

“Women are less likely to apply to jobs where they don't meet all of the qualifications … So I would say never let the degree listed on an application hold you back. The worst thing that can happen is that they will reject you. And that's fine because that's what applying to jobs is all about. So always apply no matter what as long as your background can speak toward the role.” Anne Schettig, manager, recruiting for early career at HashiCorp

Prioritize your mental health

“It’s easy to attach your sense of self-worth to a startup’s success or failure … [Being a founder] is sort of a roller coaster. I think it's about moderating the highs and lows so you can have more sustainable mental health.” —Will Peng, CEO & Co-founder at Northstar

Improve your self-awareness

“Are you self-aware enough to ask for help? Are you self-aware enough to listen? Try to surround yourself with people who are complementary to you and can help you get to the next level.” —Jeff Richards, Managing Partner at GGV Capital

Discover what drives your personal brand

“I spend a lot of my time on focus, process, consistency, and differentiation.” —Jon Fortt, journalist and host of Fortt Knox  

Apply design thinking to relationships

“Design is a fundamental leadership skill … and fundamentally, design is a process of discovery and experimentation … What relationships do you want to design? You can build relationships with the same kind of intention that you might apply toward building products.” —Lisa Kay Solomon, Designer in Residence at Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford

Reflect on—and learn from—failure

 “Startups are a multi-round game. If you're going to start something, maybe it goes well. Maybe it doesn't. But it is very likely that you are going to found again … What we know about the people who do this the best is that if you can truly reflect on what your part in the failure was [and] if you can learn from that, that is what's going to set you up best for your next experience.” —Lindsay Hyde, a senior lecturer in entrepreneurial management at Harvard Business School 

Aim for “more shots on goal”

“You don't have to be right all the time … As a founder, your job is to optimize more shots on goal …  If you’re from an underprivileged background, add resources and support systems that can give you more shots on goal.” —Madhu Yalamarthi, Co-founder & CEO at Modak

Stay in touch

 “I think a lot of people underestimate the power of networking … because you never know. Someone in here is going to eventually be a CEO, a CFO, a chief of something, and they may land you your next job. So definitely network.” —Daniel Huynh, university program recruiting manager at Coinbase  

Cultivate lasting connections

“One thing that always led me into my different roles generally was a person or a group of people. So work for people who you think are super smart and who you'll learn a lot from … Even after you leave a place, don't really think about it as that chapter is over … You never know where people are going to end up, and you may end up crossing paths again.” —Tiffany Luck, partner at GGV Capital


Three years ago, we launched the GGV NextGen Fellowship as a way for undergraduate students to gain exposure to high-growth tech companies. This year, we selected 21 extraordinary students from a pool of 1,800 applicants representing 326 colleges and universities. 

Hailing from a mix of institutions such as Augustana University (South Dakota), Kennesaw State University (Georgia), Rhodes College (Tennessee), Wayne State College (Nebraska), University of Michigan, University of Southern California, and the University of Toronto, the 2023 cohort includes talented software engineers, data scientists, and sales and finance interns—and many who we believe will become future founders and leaders. 

Thanks to these GGV portfolio companies for providing a memorable internship experience at a fast-growing startup: Bitsight, Fairmarkit, Neon, Northstar, Novo, Yami, plus public companies such as Coinbase, HashiCorp, and Wish.

Interested in joining the 2024 cohort of GGV NextGen Fellows?

Apply now