Name: Umar Brimah
GoingVC Cohort: 7
Current Job: Regional Director, US Southwest at Assure Syndicates
Hobbies: Playing tennis, DJing, spending quality time with friends, meditating, going to live events, creating content
The investor you look up to: Mac Conwell, the founder of Rarebreed Ventures, has been an inspiring trailblazer in the space for a while now. I had the opportunity to listen to him speak to our cohort as a lecturer and have been energized by his passion since then.
Umar Brimah has always been entrepreneurial. When he was just 12-years-old, he launched his own retail store in his hometown of Cape Girardeau, Missouri. In college, Brimah paired his love of entrepreneurship with his passion for music by founding an entertainment company, where he would book famous artists like Waka Flocka and Lil Jon to come and perform at his campus. Brimah then got the opportunity to help launch a brand new music and arts festival, ILLfest, that now resides in Austin and garners tens of thousands of ticket sales. It was only when he stumbled upon aY Combinator video that his interests began to shift from founder to investor. Brimah landed his first role in the VC space at the Capital Factory, one of the most active investors in Texas. Brimah started off part-time and eventually worked his way to full-time on the investor relations team, where he was primarily responsible for playing matchmaker between the firm’s portfolio companies and other investors across the country.
One program he led was a national roadshow, where his team set up meetings between top portfolio companies and VCs indifferent cities. Unfortunately, due to the travel-heavy nature of his work, Brimah’s role got eliminated during the peak of the pandemic. That’s when he found out about GoingVC and chose to apply to the program in order to hone his investing skills. A few months after the successful completion of the program, Brimah took a job as regional director of the syndicate’s division at Assure, which plays a key role in the democratization of private investing by helping angel investors and family offices find and invest in early-stage deals. Assure has closed more than 7,000 special purpose vehicles managing over $8 billion since its founding in 2012. GoingVC caught up with Brimah to talk about his time with the program and what it’s like working in the industry.
Q: What was your favorite part about Going VC?
Brimah: Easily the lectures! Each of the lectures featured a prominent VC from well-recognized funds. This gave us the opportunity to learn from the best and build valuable relationships that I still reach out to today.I was genuinely surprised by how much meaningful information could be squeezed into one to two-hour time blocks.
Q: What surprised you the most about GoingVC?
Brimah: I was surprised by the mentor matching. My background in entertainment and media led me to focus my thesis on the creator economy.After submitting my interests, I was matched with the director of Mantis VC, which happens to be the venture capital arm of The Chainsmokers. We hit it off and have been meeting biweekly for almost a year now. He’s been super helpful in guiding me through the ups and downs. I’m always impressed by the amount I learn from him in each one of our sessions.
Q: What do you find most challenging about working in VC?
Brimah: Time management can be very difficult. Between founder meetings, inbound emails, networking events, diligence, and more, there are a million and one ways you could be spending your time. One of my former managers at Capital Factory taught me to focus on the “wildly important” and let the rest fill in like grains of sand filling in a cup full of boulders. That lesson stuck with me and guides my daily decision-making.
Q: What has been your favorite part about working in VC?
Brimah: Entrepreneurship is innately creative. I love exploring a constantly-reimagined future. Every day you meet a founder who has a new creative perspective on what things could look like. The creative brainstorming is incredibly energizing and scratches an itch for me.
Q: What are your future goals in VC/your career?
Brimah: I want to help facilitate a future where more creatives are getting the checks they deserve. It’s pretty ridiculous that really only the upper echelon of artists, content creators, YouTubers, graphic designers, and podcasters are able to make a good living while 95% of creators are doing 101different side hustles to fund their passion. The disparity in pay between these two groups is another story. The amount of time and energy that goes into creating these incredible projects is not reasonably valued today. Thankfully there are passionate players in the creator economy space leading the charge in reshaping the future. Companies like Pietra, Royal, Breakr, as well as advancements towards web3, are very quickly making it possible for any talented individual to live comfortably of their passion. My goal is to help make this future a reality.
Q: What advice do you have for someone trying to get into VC?
Brimah: Proximity is key, so start wherever you are. Take the opportunities in the space because you never know where they will lead. I had the opportunity to work as an ambassador for a startup called Tilt.com in college. Eventually, I got promoted to team lead before the company was acquired by Airbnb. I didn’t even know what venture capital was at the time, but that experience turned out to be my earliest exposure to a venture-backed startup and it just so happened to get acquired. Funny enough, later down the road while at Capital Factory I randomly met an investor who was on the team that did the acquisition. You never know where life will lead you so follow your interests.
Join to receive Venture Capital research, guides, models, career tips, and many other great insights delivered straight to your inbox.