LA Venture: TX Zhuo is the 'Accidental Entrepreneur' Behind Fika Ventures' $77M Fund

Minnie Ingersoll
Minnie Ingersoll is a partner at TenOneTen and host of the LA Venture podcast. Prior to TenOneTen, Minnie was the COO and co-founder of $100M+ Shift.com, an online marketplace for used cars. Minnie started her career as an early product manager at Google. Minnie studied Computer Science at Stanford and has an MBA from HBS. She recently moved back to L.A. after 20+ years in the Bay Area and is excited to be a part of the growing tech ecosystem of Southern California. In her space time, Minnie surfs baby waves and raises baby people.

On this week's episode of the L.A. Venture podcast, meet Fika Ventures co-founder TX Zhuo. Fika is a $77-million seed-stage investment fund managed by Zhuo and his partner Eva Ho. The two created the fund with the intention to foster and give back to their community.


Zhuo has been working as an entrepreneur since he started college. Originally from Singapore, he left his family to attend school in the U.S. While getting his undergraduate degree, Zhuo shared that his father was diagnosed with terminal cancer and only had six months to live. After he passed away, his family was left with an enormous medical debt, and Zhuo stepped up to support his family.

At the age of 20, Zhuo co-founded a startup selling textbooks online, working with Amazon and eBay. After three and a half years, Zhuo and his partner were able to scale the company to an $8 million run rate. They pair sold the company is 2007, and Zhuo used the money to help ease his family's debt and to return to school.

Zhuo went on to get an MBA from Stanford, and continued his work in investing. He was a core member of McKinsey's financial services team, then served as the CFO of Lit Motors β€” an EV startup. He also worked at the seed-stage venture fund Innovation Endeavors, before co-founding Karlin Ventures in 2012. After four years with Karlin Ventures, he joined forces with Eva Ho to co-found Fika Ventures.

Fika Ventures is currently focusing their investing on the collaboration between security teams (Infosec) and engineers. The fund also highlights the unique opportunities available to investors in L.A., especially those with a fintech or enterprise focus. Zhuo says their team is very collaborative, using blind votes to help decide where their funds will go.

TX shared insight into how he approaches investing, where and when he's willing to bet big on a startup, and what he sees as the future of venture capital. Hear more about his perspective on the relationship between L.A. and Silicon Valley, how he started Fika and his professional badminton career on this week's episode.

TX Zhuo is the co-founder of Fika Ventures.

"Whenever I feel stressed β€” and this applies to Fika as well β€” go back to what you've learned. Go back to templates, go back to your playbooks, go back to what was tried and test it." β€”TX Zhuo

dot.LA Engagement Intern Colleen Tufts contributed to this post.

Want to hear more of L.A. Venture? Listen on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

Subscribe to our newsletter to catch every headline.

Weekly Recap: The State of Venture Capitalism in Southern California

Luis Gomez

Luis Gomez is dot.LA's Engagement Editor. Prior to joining the dot.LA team, he served as the audience growth consultant for Capital & Main. He has also previously worked as a digital producer for The San Diego Union-Tribune, NPR affiliate KPCC in Los Angeles and Yahoo. Follow him on Twitter at @RunGomez.

Top L.A. venture capitalists are benefitting from a white hot market.

This week, dot.LA published the first of several findings out of its quarterly poll of top Los Angeles venture capitalists. In short, those surveyed remain optimistic about the economic recovery and more than half say their companies saw valuations jump in the second quarter.

Among other findings:

  • All of the 33 investors who took the survey saw employee headcounts increase at their portfolio companies last quarter
  • Most VCs surveyed expect more hiring on the horizon
  • Some (36%) said they're having trouble retaining workers.

LA Startups To Watch πŸ‘€

MedTech Innovator has launched BioTools Innovator, a new virtual accelerator for genomics, personal medicine, targeted drug therapy and other life science startups.

Culver City-based startup Modern Animal is looking to grow by appealing to both overtaxed vets and the new rush of pet owners with its hybrid telemedicine subscription service. On Friday, it announced a $75.5 million investment to help do it.

Adway promises to pay drivers $50-$350 a month in what they call "passive" income by projecting ads on the side of their cars. This week, the nearly three-year-old company clinched a $6 million seed round led by Upfront Ventures.

Spinn, the maker of a coffee brewing machine that uses a unique "centrifuge process," has raised $20 million in a round of funding announced Monday. The startup says its focus on sustainability sets it apart from other at-home brewing machines.

#TechLA's Movers & Shakers This Week πŸ“’

Rocket Lab this week successfully launched a satellite for the U.S. Space Force after a failed mission in May. MIT-trained engineer and serial tech entrepreneur Krisztina "Z" Holly writes that Rocket Lab's quiet launch represents the real reason to have faith in space exploration, rather than space tourism.

Rental services are finally coming to the masses. Los Angeles-based Arrive Outdoors is making the technology behind its camping gear renting success available to brands that want to add a "rent" button on a product detail page. The company also announced it has raised $4 million in Seed II funding led by Amino Ventures.

LA Tech and Venture Capital News πŸ—ž

El Segundo-based Dibbs, which brands itself as "the only real-time fractional sports card marketplace," this week secured a $13 million Series A round led by Foundry Group, with star athletes like Chris Paul and Skylar Diggins-Smith also investing.

Meta Data Software, a company that organizes the massive content libraries at some of the biggest streaming services, is calling Los Angeles its new home.

New data from PledgeLA's survey of Los Angeles tech companies and venture firms shows there is still a big disparity in pay among women, Black and Latinx tech workers.

Even as sports events scaled down during the pandemic, Elysian Park Ventures saw an opportunity in the digital realm. Co-founder Cole Van Nice says COVID ultimately advanced the timelines for the sports industry.

Listen Up πŸŽ™

Need a podcast recommendation this weekend? Here are some new pods we have for you:

Hear from Alex Friedman, the co-founder of LOLA, a feminine care brand created to address the need for more transparency in women's health, in the latest episode of the Behind Her Empire podcast. Listen on Stitcher | Apple Podcasts | Spotify | iHeart Radio

On this episode of the L.A. Venture podcast, veteran media investor Daniel Leff spills the truth about streaming services: everyone's chasing Netflix. Listen on Apple Podcasts | Stitcher | Spotify

🚨 ​EXTRA EXTRA 🚨

Hundreds of Activision Blizzard employees in Irvine and many more remotely walked off the job on Wednesday to protest a workplace culture they call misogynistic and toxic. The walkout came after workers decried the company's response to a lawsuit brought forward by a California agency that accuses Activision Blizzard of fostering a pervasive "frat boy" culture. At their protest, they called on the company to be more transparent in its hiring practices.

Olympics viewership on NBC is taking a dive. New data shows a 36% decline from the 2016 Games across all NBC's platforms, which include its linear TV channel, Peacock and NBC Sports digital.

LA Tech and Venture Capital Events πŸ’¬

Immersive gaming experiences took a hit during the pandemic as venues shut down, but industry leaders expect them to come roaring back as people seek greater connections and the industry grows. This week, dot.LA hosted an intimate gathering at the immersive Two Bit Circus in downtown Los Angeles. Watch the video and sort through photos of the event.

Other upcoming Southern California events in the tech and startup scene in August:

Is your organization having an event? Let us feature it in our newsletter! Email luis@dot.la.

Am I doing this right? πŸ€”

Throw me feedback, compliments or questions on this newsletter at luis@dot.la or on Twitter at @rungomez.

'No Matter What I’m Doing, It's Always Controversial': Cloud9's All-Women Esports Team Talks Sexism in Gaming

Leigh Giangreco
Leigh Giangreco is a reporter covering culture, politics and news. Her work has appeared in outlets including The Washington Post, Politico and Washington City Paper.

The belief that female players aren't tokens in esports is still a radical one. Just as dominant women's teams in traditional sports like the U.S. women's national soccer team struggle with discrimination, women in esports face online harassment and sexism.

Read more Show less

Disney, Walmart Join Local Governments in Requiring Worker Vaccinations

Keerthi Vedantam

Keerthi Vedantam is a bioscience reporter at dot.LA. She cut her teeth covering everything from cloud computing to 5G in San Francisco and Seattle. Before she covered tech, Keerthi reported on tribal lands and congressional policy in Washington, D.C. Connect with her on Twitter, Clubhouse (@keerthivedantam) or Signal at 408-470-0776.

Entertainment giant Disney and retailer Walmart on Friday became the latest companies to require employees to be vaccinated. They followed Facebook and Google earlier this week.

Read more Show less
RELATEDEDITOR'S PICKS

Trending