Member Spotlight: Creative Ventures

For this deep dive, we spoke with James Wang, General Partner at Creative Ventures.

James Wang, General Partner at Creative Ventures

Tell us about your firm. What makes it different?

As a deep tech venture firm, our investment interests lie in early-stage companies that are solving humanity’s most critical crises.

With core structural issues—such as rising healthcare costs, labor shortages, and the effects of climate change—becoming increasingly significant, our firm seeks opportunities to fund companies and founders with real deep tech solutions. Our team at Creative is truly set apart by our ability to discern realistic market fit because we commit ourselves to thousands of hours of research and diligence into market solutions and technologies before we meet a founder or see their pitch deck.

We can see a viable solution worth funding earlier in the process because we aren’t just a team of investors; each of us is a dual-technical operator specializing in at least one or more thesis-related fields.

What defines your portfolio? 

Our portfolio is defined by applicable solutions to real-life, global-scale problems. We’re not looking to invest in the next biggest app or the trendiest tech—we’re looking to solve critical, global issues, and so are the companies we invest in.

As a result, the areas we’ve invested in are considered some of the “hardest,” including healthcare, like Exo (portable, nanotech-based ultrasound); labor automation, like Picnic Works (food service automation with robotics); and climate change, like TerraCO2 (geopolymer-based, low carbon cement).

We have incredible co-investors like Breakthrough Energy and Intel Capital. But, between being a smaller fund, having such a defined thesis-driven approach, and a team with deep business and technical experience (multiple PhDs and advanced degrees in AI/ML, microbiology, etc.), we tend to be able to invest earlier than any other institutional investor in these companies, helping them in some of their earliest stages.

Tell us about the current VC landscape in your geography/region:

“Deep tech” is still incredibly underinvested. Many traditional private equity and hedge fund players have entered software, and there’s a flood of capital there. We find that our most frequent co-investors are still non-dilutive funding and industry-backed venture capital (like Intel Capital, TDK Ventures, etc.). This may be changing between the CHIPS Act and significant geopolitical attention on deep tech. As of now, however, deep tech—especially at the early-stage—is still a fairly green field.

What are the benefits of being an NVCA member?

NVCA is an incredible organization with deep institutional knowledge that, as an emerging manager, has been invaluable for tapping into. We have benefited greatly from the information that the organization has shared, from meeting different VCs from all sorts of sectors who have scaled up their venture funds over time and sharing best practices.

What’s ahead for your firm in 2022?

There’s been more activity than ever in the space. COVID accelerated all of our trends. Healthcare has searched for solutions at a faster rate than ever. Labor shortages have only become more severe. And finally, climate change is getting more attention than ever. Between all of this activity and the CHIPS Act, we expect that the next few years in deep tech will be busy, and many world-defining companies will be born during that time. We’re excited to continue to deploy our Fund II, and gear up for a larger Fund III next year!

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Robin serves as the Communications Manager at the National Venture Capital Association, where she enhances day-to-day external and internal relations for NVCA while utilizing her expertise in content creation, storytelling, and data to elevate NVCA’s long-term communications strategy. As a conscientious leader, Robin is integral to the forward-looking investments NVCA makes in the greater venture capital and startup communities.