Gaux Girl - Anna Khan2017-11-30
The Gaux Girl - A series on brilliant women we’re privileged to count as friends.
Driven by a passion for innovation, Anna Khan is paving the way for Gaux Girls everywhere. While her academic and professional pursuits have taken her around the world, Anna now resides in San Francisco - our new home-away-from-home - where she works as an investor at Bessemer Venture Partners. There, she also leads Launch X, a startup accelerator she founded while studying at Harvard Business School.
In a nutshell, Launch X works to empower and educate female entrepreneurs with an immersive program for women looking to raise money to grow their businesses. Only 2.7% of venture capital funding goes to women-led companies, and Anna's looking to change that.
While Anna may be all business during the week, she's learned to unplug and enjoy all that her city has to offer. So, we joined this change-maker for a stroll around Fog City, Blue Bottle coffee in-hand. Read on to meet Anna, learn about Launch X's important work, and discover her sartorial take on The Heel in Black.
Meet our Gaux Girl:
I’m Anna Khan, and I’m a venture capitalist at Bessemer Venture Partners. That means I get to invest in the startup companies of the future (past investments include LinkedIn, Skype, Twitch, Yelp, Shopify, Pinterest, Twilio, and Intercom.) I grew up in Lahore, Pakistan until I was 17 years old, and then moved to Northern California to attend Stanford University where I had three majors (I know, crazy!).
I graduated with honors and spent a few years as Chief of Staff at an innovative mobile advertising company in the Bay Area. I then moved to New York for a few years where I worked out of the Bessemer NY office and then went on to Harvard Business School where I graduated with Distinction and was an Arthur Rock Fellow. At Harvard, I started an accelerator called Launch X for female entrepreneurs.
I love to travel, a lot, even if it's just for the weekend and have become a pro weekend travel packer. I also love all things design and décor – as I spent the last year decorating my first home with my husband in the city. You can also challenge me to a rap battle – 2 pac for life.
Smart design is the pillar in all that we do here at Margaux. How does this same idea apply to your business, Launch X, and what would you say is your “perfect pair” of work essentials?
As a venture capitalist, I always have to be on the move. I’m often in an Uber commuting from board meetings in the South Bay to coffee chats with entrepreneurs in the Mission, or due diligence with my investment team at our offices in SOMA. I live by my calendar and because I’m on my phone so much and in transit – it's important to put on a phone case. I love my current one from Chiara Ferragni designs. It adds a bit of sparkle to my day and keeps things real. I’m also currently loving coconut balm dot com from Glossier which is always in my handbag.
How would you describe classic style and how does it fit in with your sense of personal style?
I’m a believer in less is more (even though I didn’t start that way!) I love looks that start with the perfect pair of jeans or pants with a simple neutral top. To me, black never goes out of style. I’m also a sucker for outerwear, and I think it helps embellish and pull together any outfit. It also helps in a city like San Francisco, which I swear is cold even on a sunny day! (I’m a tropical baby, so my cold sensitivity is high!). I like dressing up my look with a crazy pop of shoes (quirky flats, or painted sneakers) and details in jewelry that you notice only if you look carefully!
What is your favorite element of life on the go in San Francisco and where can we find you enjoying an off-duty day in the city this season?
One of my favorite things about San Francisco is how seriously everyone takes their morning coffee (and afternoon coffee, and pre-dinner coffee!) I’m a huge coffee snob, and I love that there is an incredible coffee shop on every corner with its distinct personality and culture. Two other favorites of mine are small businesses that are local to the city. The first is a beautiful flower shop in my neighborhood of Hayes Valley called Birch. It's as much a design store as it is a flower store, and the owners handpick which flowers to showcase every day. It's my favorite splurge to brighten up my apartment. My second favorite (also a plant store) is called Flora Grubb Garden. Flora has such incredible energy. It's an art studio, coffee shop, and plant store all in one and it makes shopping for plants fun again! I’m also a sucker for the Golden Gate Bridge – it never gets old, so you’d easily find me there at sunset.
What advice can you offer to gaux girls who are simultaneously living life on the go while trying to invest in and build their dreams?
Allocate your time well. When you’re having fun, don’t think about work – have fun and spend time with family and friends. That way, you’ll feel good about getting back to work and achieving your goals.
What does being "a girl on the go” mean to you and where do you hope you’re going next?
It means living your fullest life and tackling each day with energy and strength. I’ve moved around and changed jobs a lot in the last few years, and am excited to challenge myself in my present career (i.e., find the next Facebook!) and build a life with my husband in San Francisco.
Gaux and believe in yourself. Work really, really hard. Nothing good comes without hard work and kindness.
Anna wears The Heel in Black
Photos by Melissa de Mata for Margaux