Startup Power Couples: Why Shereen Shermak & David Chang Have Goldman Sachs to Thank
This is the third story within our Startup Power Couples series. We'll be highlighting couples who both have a heavy hand in our local tech and venture ecosystem.
Sometimes, people rely on dating apps and setups from friends to find their romantic matches. Other times, apparently all you need is an investment meeting at Goldman Sachs. Case in point: David Chang and Shereen Shermak, who met in such a scenario.
Both members of this husband-wife team are local angel investors. Chang, as you may have seen earlier this week, just became the executive chairman at Feeltr and is known to have previously led previously PayPal's Boston office. Shermak is the founder of Group Growth Capital and was formerly the CEO of Launch Angels.
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We asked the duo some questions, and here's what they had to say about their power couple story.
Olivia Vanni: How did the two of you meet?
David and Shereen: In 1997, the two of us shook hands for the first time in a meeting on the 48th floor of Goldman Sachs headquarters in New York. We still have notes we scribbled during that initial four-person meeting, which included each of our respective managers. Over the next 19 years, our professional paths have run in parallel and we've advised on each others’ efforts, although we haven’t really worked directly on a project together until very recently. A bit of trivia: We’ve had desks and/or offices next to each other at five different places - after Goldman in New York, we’ve been within earshot of each other at offices in the North End, One International Place in the Financial District, Flybridge in the Back Bay and now at DCU/Workbar near South Station.
OV: How do you support one another professionally?
D&S: We have generally been in the same field at the same time, but usually on different sides of the equation or in different roles. It’s really helpful to have someone who understands the issues in the field you’re in but isn’t too close to the situation. Shereen had a theory that Goldman liked to put folks together who worked there, so that you could understand the crazy hours your partner had to work and help them figure out how to deal with any political issues.
Historically, one of us has taken a steady, beta kind of job while the other does something more alpha and risky. At any given time, our interests have differed (e.g., Shereen focused on investing while David focused on operating a startup), even though there're lots of overlaps in our actual skills/qualifications. We’ve joked that we could wake up on any given Monday and switch roles and do a reasonable job with the other person’s job.
We both left full-time roles on the same day in February 2015, and have taken on riskier projects, which has given us great flexibility and been a lot of fun. For angel investment opportunities, we have very different leads based on our distinct interests and networks, like mobile versus fintech. Historically, we’ve made different angel investments, but have recently been collaborating more as we find ways to apply our different areas of focus to help startups in complementary ways. We recently had a liquidity event for a startup Shereen persuaded David to co-invest in, so it’s likely that we’ll roll some of those returns back into new startup investments.
OV: How are the household responsibilities divided between the two of you?
D&S: We basically decide on chores by assigning them to whoever hates doing them the least, and that was pretty clear. They are roughly evenly divided, including childcare and routine household stuff. We both think we each do 55 percent of the total load, so, in theory, our house should be spotless due to the extra 10 percent (we haven’t figured out why the math doesn’t work).
OV: Any pet peeves about the other one?
D&S: We are on totally different time schedules - Shereen is an early bird at the gym at 5:30 a.m. and cringes at the thought of David going at 10 p.m. at night. But we would make very good castle sentries. Also, David reads instruction manuals cover to cover, while Shereen throws them out with the packaging and just gets moving. People really are one or the other.
OV: What do you admire most about the other person?
D&S: Shereen admires David’s ability to network and enjoy it. David admires Shereen’s ability to make decisions on limited data and lead a team to execute on it.