A woman whose passion for startups, change and growth is possibly second only to her favorite soccer team, Barcelona, Mar Hershenson, Founding and Managing Partner of Pear.vc is one of the leading women in venture capital in the Bay Area. With a strong background in design, automation & electrical engineering, Mar brings significant operational and technical expertise to her fund.
Having earnt a PhD in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University, Mars developed a groundbreaking technique for optimizing the design of analog semiconductors. Having accrued more than 13 years of founder experience, cofounding three of her own startups in the mobile/ e-commerce and enterprise software & semi-conductor industries, and having accumulated 14 different patents, Mar, along with her partner Pejman Nozad, founded Pejman Mar, rebranded recently as Pear VC.
As a VC, Mar has explored many different sectors. Pear’s SOIL (pre-seed) and Seed investments include companies in big data, the sharing economy etc. Notable names include DoorDash, Instaread, Memebox and Aurora. However, with her passion for entrepreneurship driving her to new sectors all the time, Mar has increased her interest in the connected car space. Her belief is that it’s an unavoidable technology that has the potential of changing everything from signals on the streets to cities, highways and large city related infrastructure. Thought she believes “it’s not as straightforward as the internet was” back in 2006, since it doesn’t involve concepts of accidents and deaths, it is the next big change she sees the world moving towards.
When asked about adoption issues such as security, which have prevented connected cars from attracting individual rather than company-based interest, Mar emphasized that it was “just a matter of time.” Her analogy: “Someone told me once upon a time cars weren’t allowed on the roads in the city. People used to drive on horses and it’d be illegal to drive a car on the road. Look at us now. It will eventually happen – it’s just a matter of who is better prepared for it.” She also believed that some industries, especially those in need of technology solutions such as transport, chucking – who could use connected car related solutions for cost-cutting and accident reduction could be targeted for early adoption / first mover pushes and used to convince the public that the industry was a safe one.
Mar’s own struggle as a passionate entrepreneur, but also a woman and an immigrant serves as a great example to international students; more than 20 years after immigrating from Spain, Mar uses her enthusiasm and optimism as a weapon against hurdles. In an industry where there were actually more women in Venture Capital 30 years ago than there are today, Mar believed that though ego and insecurities are prevalent in the industry, surrounding oneself with brilliant workers is key. Her height and casual dressing have forced her to voice her talent when needed; however, she prides herself in “knowing where you are and acting a certain way – just like a car.” Mar has also maintained an active role in mentoring girls to create the next generation of female VCs, so that, as she often finds the case, she isn’t the only woman in a meeting.
Mar has been recognized by MIT Technology Review as a Top Innovator Under 35, named a Champion of Innovation by Fast Company, included by EE Times in its listing of the Top 10 Women in Microelectronics, and awarded the Digital Automation Conference’s Marie R. Pistilli Achievement Award.
A true believer in campuses being the hub of innovation around the world. She believes that tomorrow’s best ideas wniill only come from today’s youth at the likes of UC Berkeley, who are engaged, have high energy, willingness and optimism. “I always told my partner if I knew what the future looked like, I wouldn’t be a VC – I’d be running a company myself.”