Making a Big Splash: What I’m doing next

It’s time (once again) to build

Ha Nguyen
4 min readNov 24, 2020
Photo credit: Unsplash (Chris Hardy)

I’m a bit of an accidental VC. In 2016, after an exhilarating 16-year career as a product leader in Silicon Valley, I started exploring the next phase of my career. My two favorite career experiences were eBay and Stella & Dot, both mission driven companies experiencing hyper-growth. Both allowed for hundreds of thousands of individuals to become entrepreneurs and build their livelihoods using new platforms. Beyond that, eBay and Stella & Dot were community-driven platforms, allowing people to build meaningful connections over shared interests and passions. Each day, I would bound out of bed excited to get to work, because the work truly mattered for the community we were serving.

Around that time, I reconnected with my former boss from eBay, Shripriya Mahesh, who had just joined Omidyar Network as a partner. She invited me to join Omidyar Network as an Executive In Residence (EIR) to work with mission-driven founders in Omidyar’s portfolio. This was my very first introduction to the wonderful world of venture — investing in and supporting the very best founders building a more hopeful future.

In early 2018, Shripriya and I, along with Sara Eshelman, formed Spero Ventures to back the next generation of great mission-driven founders building purpose-driven companies that could achieve venture scale. Every day for the last five years, I’ve bounded out of bed excited to get to work, because the work of supporting our founders in their mission matters. It’s been an awesome privilege.

Two months ago, I met the founders of a weird and wacky startup as they were raising their Series A. As I got to learn more about the company, I was absolutely blown away. After multiple conversations, I developed deep conviction around the company and the founders’ bigger vision. Today, I’m excited to announce that I’ll be joining Swimply at the end of this month as their Chief Experience Officer. It’s the realization of the dream I had five years ago — to help build a mission-driven startup experiencing hyper-growth and that is positively impacting the lives of their community of users.

Swimply is an online marketplace that empowers owners of swimming pools to monetize their underutilized asset by sharing them locally by the hour — think Airbnb for swimming pools. The startup experienced incredible rapid growth, driven by customer love, word of mouth, and robust media coverage. In just the last six months, 200,000+ strangers have enjoyed a stranger’s pool (4000% YoY growth). Swimply’s mission is to extend the sharing economy beyond the functional to the experiential, by building an authentic community-driven marketplace that democratizes access and enhances quality of life for the average family. Helping owners earn an income from their underutilized assets reduces the financial anxiety of ownership and simultaneously fosters community.

When I reflect on the remarkable journey I’ve had over these past five years, I’m filled with gratitude. I’m thankful for the great privilege of working alongside the incredible team at Omidyar Network and Spero Ventures. They will always be family. I’m also grateful for Pierre and Pam Omidyar, who fund Spero’s work and catalyze change for millions of people through the extraordinary work of our founders. And, of course, I’m deeply honored to have met so many amazing early stage founders, co-investors, advisors, executives and friends: every one of you has inspired me more than you’ll ever know.

Spero is Latin for “hope.” Our founders are building a more hopeful future, and I will always root for their success and cheer them on as they fulfill their missions. And I will always have the utmost admiration for my Spero partner Shripriya Mahesh, someone I’m proud to call both a friend and mentor, who invited me to join alongside her on this remarkable journey. She carries on our work of partnering with and supporting the very best mission-driven founders alongside our phenomenal team at Spero: Sara Eshelman, Marc Tarpenning, Jonathan Kroll, Stephen Wemple and Brandon Walker.

The last five years have truly transformed me. It has been the privilege of a lifetime. But for me it’s time, once again, to build. I’m excited to be jumping back into the entrepreneurial pool (yes, pun intended). I plan to share more about my startup experiences in the coming months and years through my writing and speaking.

Thank you for being part of my journey over the last five years, and for supporting me in my new journey. If I can be of service, I hope you’ll reach out. I look forward to keeping in touch!



Ha Nguyen

Ha is currently a Partner at Spero Ventures, an early stage venture capital firm investing in the things that make life worth living.