Welcoming Arpan Shah as Pear’s newest Partner

We’re excited to announce that Arpan Shah will be Pear’s newest Partner. A Visiting Partner for the last year, as well as former Robinhood founding engineer and founder of Flannel (acquired by Plaid), we couldn’t be more thrilled to have him permanently onboard. 

An alumni of Pear Garage, Arpan has always embodied the people-first Pear ethos and now follows the operator-turned-investor journey. He will continue working on investments in his wheelhouse of Fintech, developer tools as well as data platforms and AI. 

“I’m excited to find companies that have more innovative approaches that are both scalable and cost efficient in this world where more and more data will be used in more and more interesting ways.”

As a Visiting Partner, Arpan has supported portfolio companies at the intersection of Fintech, AI and Data. He’ll continue providing his expertise with PearX for AI (the first cohort of which is still open for applications).

“I really like working with founders who are trying to build companies that seem ridiculously hard. Those are the types of founders that I think are quite exciting, because they’re really motivated to not pursue small wins, but really make transformational change happen in an industry.”

Sound like you? Email him at arpan@pear.vc

Announcing Pear Fund IV: $432M to power the future of tech

10 years ago, we started what is now Pear VC under the name Pejman and Mar Ventures. But the story dates even further back to 2009, when Pejman approached me with the goal to build a fund that serves world class entrepreneurs and supports their efforts with know-how, network, and capital. Pejman had a clear vision to build a seed stage firm with a true legacy: one that would be talked about in the history books.

By that time, Pejman had established himself as a savvy angel investor, and he even backed some of my own startups. When setting out to start a fund, he wanted to partner with someone that had a complementary skillset: while Pejman had over ten years of experience investing, I had founded three companies. It was a great match, but I was initially pretty reluctant to dive into the world of venture. Pejman, like any great founder, did not give up. He spent four years trying to convince me, and ultimately the two of us agreed to set out and raise an initial seed fund in 2013. Raising our first fund was not easy. After all, neither of us had any venture experience and we did not fit the mold of typical VCs.  After facing a series of no’s, a few brave LPs put their trust in us, and we were off to the races with a $50M seed fund.

 Me and Pejman in Pear’s first office in Palo Alto in 2013.

So here we are, 10 years later. We are incredibly proud of how far we have come, but we’re also well aware of how much lies ahead of us. Over the last decade, we’ve seeded over 150 companies including marquee companies like DoorDash (NSDQ: DASH), Guardant Health (NSDQ:GH), Senti Bio (NSDQ: SNTI), Aurora Solar, Gusto, Branch, Affinity, Vanta, Viz.ai and many more. 

Although we have come a long way since 2013, our DNA has not changed. Perseverance, can-do mentality, collaboration, service, and legacy remain the pillars of our fund.

The team has grown quite a bit. We now have a world class team of 26 (and growing!) Pear team members. Our investment team brings deep expertise across our vertical areas – from consumer to biotech to fintech to AI and beyond. We’ve also invested our resources in building a best-in-class platform team, with extensive backgrounds in company building – from talent to GTM to marketing and more.

Pear’s amazing team in our Menlo Park HQ.

Just like on day one of Pear, we are at the service of our founders. When we partner with a company, we are an extended member of their team and we do whatever it takes to help them be successful. We tell founders to think of us as “Ocean’s Eleven”: we’re a unique cast of colorful characters, with specific skills, a common plan, and coordinated execution.  In fact, coordinated collaboration is at the heart of what we do. 

We remain as optimistic as day one. Over the last decade of building Pear, we have witnessed the market go through its fair share of ups and downs. Despite the current economic downturn, we firmly believe that there is no better time to invest at the seed stage. The market is teeming with exceptional talent starting companies, the advent of AI is propelling company building at an unprecedented pace, and sales and marketing can be done at scale with fewer resources. In light of these factors, we are confident that the next wave of iconic companies will emerge from this downturn, and we are looking forward to being their initial backers.

This week, we celebrate raising our fourth fund at $432 million, but we know that fundraising is just one milestone. We have our eyes set on the decades that lie ahead, and we are already hard at work building new initiatives that will help us deliver on our promise to back and support early-stage companies. 

Since day one, we’ve built Pear on this belief that people truly make the difference. We are deeply grateful to our LPs and to our founders who put their faith in us as partners every day. 

We look forward to building the future of tech with Pear Fund IV. We couldn’t be more excited for the next decade of Pear!

AR/VR/XR/PEAR: our call for mixed reality builders 

In the past few months, we have seen the beginnings of rising interest in building AR, VR, mixed reality, and extended reality infrastructure and applications (we’ll just call it “XR” for short): XR applications to PearX are up 5x this year, dedicated XR hacker groups are proliferating at top engineering schools like Harvard and Stanford, and our tracking shows hundreds of founders have left venture-backed and major tech companies to build in the XR space.  

We think this is because XR has the potential to represent one of the most consequential new platforms of the coming decade, and there is substantial alpha to be had for builders who study this burgeoning space and seize early opportunities. 

We expect interest in building in XR only to increase dramatically – particularly following Apple’s upcoming Reality Pro headset announcement. We see builders with a measured sense of urgency having an advantage, and we’ve put together a high-level guide for exploring ideas in XR. What follows is merely one way of cataloging opportunities; we would love to meet and speak with founders who are building early, quickly, and curiously in the broader XR space. 

XR Builder’s Guide to Exploring Ideas

A Familiar “Infrastructure and Applications” Approach

With any new technology, there are opportunities in foundational infrastructure (making the technology easier to deploy or adding capabilities to what can be built for / with it) and novel applications (tools built with the new technology to help users achieve something they could not previously do).

This approach often starts by asking what new infrastructure developers are building, and then asking what applications can be built atop it. 

In XR, substantial existing infrastructure will be first-party specific to headset makers. So, it is worth considering what initial applications may be built on foundations purpose-built for available devices – and which use cases may find breakout success among users of those devices. 

XR applications


Gaming appears to be the first breaking wave of consumer XR, and will likely lead the way for the foreseeable future. Unity’s 2023 report showed that more than half of all console developers are now building for VR platforms, too. It’s been said that “Every game developer wants to be a VR game developer – they just need to find a way to get paid for it.” This may not be a problem soon enough.

According to The Economist and Omdia, global gaming spending will eclipse $185B this year, with half of consumer spend going to mobile games. As AAA titles and boredom-busting mobile games alike are rendered in XR, it stands to reason that anyone with access to an XR device will prefer gameplay in a more immersive form – meaning that a sizable share of the gaming market may shift to XR in the next decade.

Gamified consumer training is already proving its effectiveness in athletics: thousands of baseball players, amateur and professional alike – including the reigning MVP – use WIN Reality’s Quest app to perfect their swings, with measurable improvements on their performance. 

We are also excited about consumer applications in more passive streaming entertainment, social content sharing, education, and commerce. Many of the hours of daily screen time spent watching asynchronous content – social media feeds or professional productions – or browsing e-commerce sites may feel more vivid in an immersive environment. 


Hardware fragility and cost may prevent near-term widespread enterprise adoption of B2B XR across business types. Meanwhile, few people – including us – are excited about open-ended co-working in an immersive XR environment. 

But, there are impactful vertical and horizontal applications alike that may soon make enterprise XR familiar and essential in many use cases, especially at large companies. Horizontal enterprise tools may include general-purpose training and demo environments: collaborative spaces built to allow anyone to host a classroom or sales presentation. Early deployments of immersive training tools have shown efficacy in use cases as diverse as nursing, UPS driver safety, and law enforcement.    

For more specialized B2B applications, initial verticals may include architecture and interior design, product design and mechanical engineering, repair and maintenance diagnostics and installation, and healthcare diagnostics and treatment simulation – among many other sectors.

Key questions for XR application builders 

With any application, we encourage prospective founders to consider first-party risk: What core applications are platform creators likely to want to own? FaceTimeXR may be a more likely winner than a new developer’s video chat app for Apple RealityPro. But, a social app to flip through your photo library immersively, in real-time and alongside the friends in those images, may be less likely in Apple’s first-party domain.  

We also encourage XR builders to have an airtight “why XR” case for any application: what vital benefit does an immersive, co-present environment offer to your user over alternative interfaces? 

XR Infrastructure

Developer tools 

Wise founders will study the initial wave of XR adoption and ask which high-use applications are breaking, underwhelming, or borderline impossible on existing first-party or open infrastructure. Many of the most most compelling opportunities will be in bolstering core experiences: interactivity and copresence, audio, messaging, 3D asset generation, 2D/3D web interoperability, streaming reliability and observability. 

Monetization enablement 

An entire ecosystem of companies will support familiar business models, applied to XR use cases. While many elements of these business models may be unchanged for a new interface, there will undoubtedly be novel components. E-commerce checkout flows will feature transaction-splitting for social shopping. A wave of analytics and marketing tools will help businesses identify lucrative, impression-rich actions users take in XR applications, and usage-based billing providers will emerge to track and monetize novel ways of product use. 

Key questions for XR infrastructure builders 

Although removed from the end XR application consumer, XR infrastructure builders should start with this headset-adorned or AR-phone-app wielding user profile in mind. In a nascent space, an infrastructure builder needs to be sure there are enough end users who will in turn adopt what your own customers build with your tool or on your platform. Even if a developer can build something novel and powerful with your tools, your success relies on that developer’s distribution.   


These are merely a few of the possible areas to explore. The promise of XR lies in the experiences we cannot yet clearly see, and the infrastructure built to enable them. If you’re building now — send us a note to XR@pear.vc. And if you’ll be in LA for LA Tech Week, join us on 6/7 at our XR breakfast — there will be plenty to discuss the week of Apple WWDC!

Pear Competition: Harvard Winners

At Pear, we have a long history partnering with students to build the next wave of category-defining companies. In fact, we started working with the founders of companies like Branch, Aurora Solar, Bioage, and Affinity when they were still students.  Each year, we host Pear Competition where students can receive up to $100,000 to launch their startups.  

This year, there were five winners of Pear Competition at Harvard, and they received prizes between $25,000 and $100,000 each. These winners were selected based on their ideas across various fields from AI infrastructure to virtual reality and more. We’re excited to shine a spotlight on this year’s winners:

Civic Roundtable 

Civic Roundtable is a collaboration platform for public servants: a “Reddit meets LinkedIn”– designed with and for public servants. Founders Madeleine Smith and Austin Boral are joint Harvard Business School / Harvard Kennedy School of Government student with experience working in and with the public sector, where they saw firsthand the inefficiencies that state, local, and federal workers face in their attempts to collaborate. Civic Roundtable brings these workers together in one place to share knowledge and coordinate their joint efforts. 


Gigit.ai was founded by Harvard Business School student Inez Wihardjo, is a plug-and-play infrastructure to enable enterprises to own and train specialized AI models. Unlike existing players, Gigit offers an integrated self-hosted system of AI + subject-matter experts to ensure no hallucination, utmost accuracy, while preserving the data privacy of the enterprises.


Delilah is a personalized AI assistant founded by Harvard College undergraduates Khoi Nguyen and Raunak Daga, two members of Pear Garage at Harvard. Khoi and Raunak are hackers at heart, and have built and battle-tested a suite of productivity tools with their target market of GenZ students. We couldn’t be more excited to support their mission to bring the game-changing tools of an all-purpose AI assistant to this demographic. 


BuyXR, founded by Harvard College undergraduates Sam Suchin and Will Schrepferman, is a virtual reality e-commerce platform that allows any seller – from the world’s biggest brands to limited edition creators – to offer their merchandise in an immersive, gamified world. 


More to come about our fifth winner when they launch! 

We’ve long believed that, with the right tools and resources, student builders can build extraordinary companies. These five Harvard Competition winners embody the spirit of student entrepreneurship and innovation, and we’re excited to see where they go!

Pear Competition: Stanford GSB Winners

At Pear, we have a long history partnering with students to build the next wave of category-defining companies. In fact, we started working with the founders of companies like Branch, Affinity, Aurora Solar, Viz.ai, and Bioage when they were still students.  Each year, we run Pear Competition where students can receive up to $100,000 to launch their startups.  

This year, there were four winners of Pear Competition at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business (GSB), and they received checks between $25,000 and $100,000 each. These GSB winners were selected based on their ideas across various fields from BioTech to Climate Tech and more. We’re excited to shine a spotlight on this year’s Pear Competition winners:


RadarTx is a biotech company that aims to revolutionize the treatment of a broad array of diseases by bringing precision targeting to gene- and mRNA-based therapies. Most current nucleic acid therapies suffer from a lack of specificity due to expressing their payload protein drugs in every cell – a problem that can severely limit their efficacy and safety. RadarTx has developed a proprietary RNA sensing platform that can precisely control the expression and activity of such drugs at the cell type or even cell state level, thereby improving the therapeutic potential of this important class of medicines.


Komo is redesigning how search and discovery works for both users and businesses. Komo’s platform is designed to help users find the right information faster and more efficiently especially when it comes to exploration. The company’s AI-powered algorithms deliver a personalized and interactive search experience, making discovery both easier and more delightful. This innovative approach has the potential to revolutionize the way users interact with digital content, making information more accessible to millions of people worldwide.


Stellarr is a talent acquisition platform that connects the right talent to the best opportunities in tech. Stellarr’s platform uses advanced AI-powered algorithms to identify the most suitable candidate for a particular job, reducing the time and costs associated with hiring. The platform also includes features like job matching and automated scheduling to make the hiring process more efficient for employers. 


Optimus is a manufacturing technology company that is building the brains for advanced manufacturing. The company is starting with batteries and extending to other manufacturing verticals critical to the clean energy transition. Optimus’ technology is designed to make manufacturing more efficient and cost-effective, reducing the environmental impact of production while promoting renewable energy. 

We’ve long believed that, with the right tools and resources, student builders can build extraordinary companies. These four Pear Competition winners embody the spirit of student entrepreneurship and innovation, and we’re excited to see where they go!

Welcoming Sean Strong as our new Head of Builders!

We are excited to share our newest addition to the Pear family, Sean Strong! Sean was the CEO and Co-founder of Grove XR, a Pear portfolio company, and studied artificial intelligence at Stanford. A Pear Garage alum, Sean is the perfect fit to be our Head of Builders, working with student and post-graduate technical founders at the earliest stages.

At Pear, we pride ourselves on supporting early stage founders across all fields – engineering, marketing, recruiting, and more. We understand the unique importance of investing in student founders at the beginning of their bright careers, and Sean joins us to do just that.

Sean has been deeply immersed in the Bay Area startup ecosystem since freshman year, even taking time off from college at one point to start his own. He first met the Pear team as a member of Pear Garage during his senior year, and that relationship blossomed when Sean’s VR management startup GroveXR became a Pear portfolio company. 

Pear has been there for every stage of my startup journey, first as a student and later as founder.  Mar and the rest of the team were hands-on and supportive through the early times, fun times, and most importantly hard times.

The essence of what we do at Pear is help people pursue their dreams. We aren’t just investing in companies, we want to build programs and communities that launch founders to the next level. To do this, we need hands-on, people-first team members like Sean who understand the ins and outs of being a founder.

Beyond working hand in hand with our founders, Sean will also be leading our efforts to refine and build out our programs to support students and early technical founders through Pear Dorm and beyond as our Head of Builders. His efforts will span Pear Garage, recent grad initiatives, and more to expand our partnerships with future builders, founders, and investors.  

Interested in connecting with Sean? Email him at sean@pear.vc or follow him on Twitter at @sean_t_strong.

Welcoming Jo Zhu, Head of PearX

We’re excited to announce that Jo Zhu has joined Pear to lead PearX operations and invest on the consumer side! With a product background at Uber, Cameo, and DoorDash and investing experience at a16z, we are thrilled to have Jo on the team. 

Jo embodies all that we are at Pear: passionate operator, people-first investor, and jack of all trades. She is a skilled and seasoned product leader— her resume includes launching the new verticals product team at DoorDash, where she expanded the delivery app into “non-food” categories (grocery, convenience, and retail), growth and recipient experience at Cameo, and driver pricing and incentives at Uber. Most recently, Jo invested at the intersection of consumer and crypto at a16z. 

Jo first met the Pear team as a part of the W20 YCombinator batch, then joined us as a Pear Fellow while getting her joint MBA and M. Ed at Stanford. She was hooked on the Pear mentality. 

“A lot of people care about what the TAM is for any particular industry or problem. For me, if there is strong founder market fit, they will create a new market.”

As an early-stage firm, we have to be people focused. The people build the product, and knowing how to help the people is what defines great early-stage investing.

“What is the core problem you’re solving, and what are the features that you’re going to build to solve that? Together, we can craft a brand new space.”

As the Head of PearX, Jo will be in the trenches with founders from day one— riffing on GTM strategies, synthesizing key user problems, isolating for key metrics, and advising on growth, process, hiring, and fundraising. Her goal is to help founders avoid making mistakes she has learned the hard way, and to share practical and operational advice to build a business that is meaningful and enduring over time.

As an investor, Jo strives to open doors and dismantle structural inequities to make room at the table for diverse and underrepresented founders. She invests in platforms that bring convenience, collaboration, and community to everyday life that bridge the digital and the physical world.
Interested in connecting with Jo? Reach out at jo@pear.vc or on Twitter @joandthezhus.

Welcoming Kaitlin Shavey, Pear’s Event Marketing Manager

At Pear, our founder-first approach is a people-first approach. One of the best parts about the last year has been welcoming back in-person events. We’ve just begun our fourth Female Founder Circle cohort with a kickoff in San Francisco this past month. We also recently held a fireside chat with Hussein Mehanna, Head of AI/ML at Cruise with 125+ AI/ML founders in attendance. And we’re excited for more great events in the coming months. We love to bring people together, and we couldn’t be more excited to have Kaitlin onboard to lead that charge as our Event Marketing Manager. 

Kaitlin is Bay Area born and raised. After graduating from Cal Poly, she moved to San Francisco where she’s been based ever since. Her work experience spans both the retail and event marketing industry. At George P. Johnson, Kaitlin helped plan and execute corporate events from intimate gatherings and retreats, to large scale corporate conferences across the US. At Pear, events are about building community, from university events to our PearX cohorts, and Kaitlin has that dialed in. “Helping facilitate an environment where people can collaborate, connect, and learn from one another is critical to early stage founders. Relationships are invaluable and events are a critical part of establishing a network.”

Over the last month, Kaitlin has already made a considerable impact on Pear events, from organizing our founder speaker series to preparing for PearX Demo Day and our upcoming events at LA, SF, and NYC Tech Week. We can’t wait for her to grow and expand the world of events at Pear.

Want to reach out? Connect with Kaitlin at kaitlin@pear.vc

Announcing Pear’s newest Partners

We’re proud to announce our newest partners: Keith Bender, Vivien Ho, and Addison Leong!

Keith started at Pear almost three years ago and has already made a considerable impact in his time as a Principal. He focuses on vertical software, marketplace, and platform businesses, as well as leading all of our LatAm investments and our data-based sourcing team. Keith’s investments include Sudozi, Chainpass, Miter, Menta, and more. A Harvard Business School and Harvard College grad, Keith launched our Harvard Garage engineering fellowship and developed an HBS case study on Pear that is taught in the popular VC/PE course. He was named this year to Silicon Valley Bank and Terra Nova’s EVC List of 50 emerging investors charting the industry’s future. His people-focused, data-driven approach to investing is unparalleled, and we couldn’t be more grateful to have him on our side as a Partner.

Vivien embodies all that we are at Pear: not just investors, but operators. She invests in health — human health, planet health, and financial health including partnering closely with Budgie Health, Osmind, Valar Labs, Fairstreet, Stellation Care, Supercharge Finance, Syro and more. She helps founders hire key clinical and engineering leaders, introduces them to their first customers and surrounds founders with Pear’s braintrust of knowledge. Further, she spearheaded Pear’s Healthcare Playbook Podcast, interviewing leading healthcare founders, leaders and operators on building digital health businesses from 0 to 1. In her first year, Vivien started Pear VC’s Female Founders Circle, a biannual 3 month program with 3 cohorts and 105+ female technical founders in the community. We’re so grateful for Vivien’s leadership and her superpower in bringing communities together at Pear, and we’re very excited for her much deserved promotion to Partner. 

Addison has been a long-standing member of the Pear team: first as a Pear Garage member during his time at Stanford, then as a Pear Fellow, then an Engineer in Residence, Director of Engineering, and now Engineering Partner. In true Pear spirit, he wears many hats, from  spearheading our next-generation intelligent software and data layer that enables Pear to find and pick the best founders, to conducting technical interviews for our portfolio companies, to vetting highly technical investments. Addison draws on his experience as a software engineer, product manager, and designer to be our tech force multiplier, enabling us to hit well above our weight class: he has been instrumental in getting many initial engineering teams off the ground, single-handedly built the Demo Day software that has driven more than $60M in seed investments for our companies, and performed data analyses that inform our overall investing strategy.

Congrats Keith, Vivien, and Addison! We’re excited for the road ahead. 

Welcoming Aparna Sinha to Pear as our newest Visiting Partner

We’re excited to announce that Aparna Sinha has joined Pear as a Visiting Partner! With a career spanning Google, Stanford, McKinsey, NetApp, and Open Source contributions, Aparna brings a wealth of insight in enterprise, developer and AI/ML to Pear companies. 

Since Pear began, we’ve always been proud to not just be investors, but experienced operators. Our team’s most recent addition is no different— Aparna joins us after almost 10 years at Google, most recently as a senior executive leading Kubernetes and Developer Product groups. 

Aparna first got hooked on entrepreneurship while pursuing her PhD in Electrical Engineering working on high speed data communication as an Intel graduate fellow at Stanford. She took a class with Mar Hershenson and followed Mar’s startup, writing a case study on it. Aparna also helped expand the undergraduate business plan competition at Stanford to engineering PhD students and post-docs.

Aparna’s list of accomplishments over the last 10 years at Google can go on and on. She launched an ML-enhanced CRM system for Google’s consumer products, and earned a patent on Android IoT device schema generation. She was part of the early team that created Kubernetes, and scaled the business to a top revenue generating service. Aparna and her team won two ‘Feats of Engineering’ awards at Google for innovations in Kubernetes. Aparna’s product portfolio grew to include Serverless computing as well as Developer Experience tooling for Google Cloud. 

Her work has been covered by press including TechCrunch, Forbes and SiliconAngle. She was highlighted in 2018 as a Power Woman in Cloud. She reconnected with us after leaving Google, and we’re thrilled to have her on board. 

“I believe that enterprise software is being disrupted by cloud and machine learning, creating an opportunity for massive value generation by startups. Best of all, this opportunity favors experienced founders who move fast and rethink the systems that run our world. 

I enjoy working with 10X thinkers, open source maintainers and deep technical founders. I’m good at helping convert technical innovation to customer value generating business.”

Aparna wants to help founders with identifying new market opportunities, productizing technical innovation, building the MVP, scaling revenue, utilizing cloud, and more. “At Pear, I see a unique opportunity for me to help founders with my knowledge, experience and network, successfully bringing innovations to market.”

Interested in connecting with Aparna? Reach out at aparna@pear.vc or on Twitter @apbhatnagar