How Seamon Chan Helps Fund Underserved Businesses Globally

Investing in tech companies outside major hubs

Seamon Chan has always wanted to help innovators, so he started a venture capital firm to do that. 

Chan is the co-founder and a managing partner at Palm Drive Capital, a New York City-based venture capital fund that focuses on investing in high-growth software companies beyond traditional technology hubs.

Seamon Chan

Palm Drive Capital

Chan was inspired to launch his firm after working in the VC industry and realizing he wanted to invest more in technology companies.  

"I wanted to get more involved with helping founders and supporting their expansion," Chan told Lifewire. "Palm Drive Capital’s mission is to be able to support innovators and diverse founders from anywhere, regardless of background and access to opportunities." 

Launched in 2014, Palm Drive Capital’s investment philosophy blends West Coast insight with East Coast discipline, Chan explained. The firm’s investments mainly target underserved founders building tech companies in underserved markets. 

Quick Facts

  • Name: Seamon Chan
  • Age: 36
  • From: New York, but partly grew up in Asia 
  • Random delight: He enjoys watching esports and working out.  
  • Key quote or motto: "Be helpful and pay it forward."

From Stanford to New York

Chan was first introduced to entrepreneurship during his time studying at Stanford University. He said he was inspired by his peers who were starting companies. He began working with startups in Asia, Europe, and New York before he decided it was time to launch his venture.

Chan first learned about the venture capital side of the startup industry during his tenure as an investment analyst at Insight Venture Partners. 

Chan teamed with one of his Stanford classmates, Hendrick Lee, to launch Palm Drive Capital. The firm’s name is derived from the main road, Palm Drive, that leads up to the prominent university. Even though Chan and Lee are leading Palm Drive Capital from New York, they have never forgotten their Silicon Valley roots. 

Palm Drive Capital’s team has grown to roughly 15 employees, the majority of whom are investment analysts. Since its inception seven years ago, Palm Drive Capital has raised about $150 million across three funds. The firm’s latest fund closed in December, and was worth $75 million, Crunchbase reports

The Palm Drive Capital Executives

Palm Drive Capital

Palm Drive Capital has made investments into more than 100 technology companies across various industries, including fintech, e-commerce, and enterprise software. Chan said 17 of the firm’s portfolio companies are unicorns.

"We’re focused on raising capital to invest back into companies," Chan said. "I’m most proud of building a diverse portfolio of companies around the U.S. and other parts of the world. Being able to work with founders anywhere makes me very proud of our work."

Challenges and Growth  

As an Asian-American founder, Chan said raising venture capital to support Palm Drive Capital’s investments has been challenging. One way he’s overcome this hurdle is by taking part in diversity programs focused on helping fund managers. 

"We try to play up our diversity to our advantage, but on the fundraising side, it’s not easy," Chan said. 

Despite the challenges, Chan is focused on expansion. He said he wants to add more team members, expand Palm Drive Capital’s technology tools, and reach more founders in need of help and resources. While he’s looking to expand the firm’s team, he still wants to keep Palm Drive Capital’s employee count on the lower side. 

Being able to work with founders anywhere makes me very proud of our work.

"We want to make sure that we’re talking to as many people starting companies as possible, even if they’re not in our network," Chan said. "We want to be able to do that with a limited team."

Chan’s philosophy for growth is rooted in helping others and giving back. He said he is always finding ways to network with like-minded individuals and connecting with founders and investors.

Chan also has gotten involved in the nonprofit industry. He’s an active member on the advisory board for the Asia Society’s Southern California chapter, and he recently became chair of Milken Institute’s Young Leaders Circle. 

"Even in our downtime, we network a lot," Chan said.

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