SDH 019: Building a Mountain to Climb with Sarah Kunst

Sarah is a venture partner at Future Perfect Ventures and Fortis, an investor, a contributing editor for Marie Claire Magazine, and a startup, incubator, and accelerator advisor. Sarah is also involved in philanthropic efforts where she serves on the board of Venture for America and is very active in Help Us Adopt.

“From a really early age I realized that making money was fun because then I could buy whatever I wanted.”

Sarah’s Work Journey:

  • Two farms growing up

  • Fast Food

  • Nanny

  • Fragrance Industry – Coty Beauty

  • Apple & Red Bull

  • Marketing at Chanel

  • Media startup – Guest of a Guest

  • Personal Consulting

  • Joined venture-backed startup

  • Venture Capital Investing

“With the right people, if somebody really values your insight, you generally are going to get paid back for giving of yourself, giving of your time, and helping people.”

What do you look for in a company to invest in?

  • The People –

    • With drive, integrity, hunger

    • Have capacity for learning and takes instruction well

    • Obsessively research their industry and company

You’re looking for someone who is going to work through when things get tough.

Tell us about one of your mistakes in investing: Finding companies that I love that just need a few of tweaks and not recognizing that the founders of those companies are not interested in change

Walk us through a typical day for Sarah:

  • Phone Calls – “How I can help them and how they can help me”

  • Breakfast, Lunch or Drinks Meetings – Reporters covering her company, company she wants to invest in, another investor she wants to send deals to

How do you stay organized?

  • Memory, GoogleDocs, and Email

How to source the people reaching out:

  • Look for a demonstrated amount of interest before asking for advice

  • Try to figure out what people are actually asking you for

“Don’t ever ask somebody a question that you can Google”

Thinking critically and finding ways to meet as many people’s needs as possible, but also not completely burn yourself out in the process.

Mindset on Investing:

“Finding out things upfront and making sure, upfront, it really makes sense, is so important.”

  • Don’t fall in love with a business before you know it can be profitable

  • You’re not the exception

  • Google profit margins for “X”

“I don’t look at business from a place of passion until I know that they can make money.”

“Starting a company is an irrational exercise. - I’m going to build a mountain so I can climb it.”

“Stay in love with the problem that you’re trying to solve, but don’t get too attached to the first solution that is trying to solve it.”

Talk about the imbalance and lack of diversity in Tech:

“Women need to really look at whether or not they may be internalizing the idea that guys are better at startups and investing than they are, and really shake that off!”

Sarah educates us on the most shocking facts and figures around tech and diversity

Staying motivated and inspired

“I love technology, I love innovation, and I love helping people”


  • “Be so excellent that no one can really doubt you”

Book Recommendation: Choose Yourself – James Altucher

Find Sarah via Twitter @SarahKunst and

TechAmanda Boleyn