Sophia Khan is a Principal at Struck Studio, a next-generation venture studio pushing boundaries and solving real problems. At Struck Studio, Sophia manages the full lifecycle of ventures from brainstorming to prototyping and launch. Prior to joining Struck Studio, Sophia served as the Director of Strategy at the growth-stage sustainable consumer brand Reformation, and before her endeavor at the climate-friendly startup Sophia spent five years on the investment team at Greycroft working on consumer and enterprise SaaS deals.
Before embarking on her career in investing, Sophia spent time in the intelligence space focused on global counter-terrorism across Europe, Asia and the Middle East. Sophia hopes to use this nascent curiosity of human behavior and her later experience investing in some of the world’s fastest growing startups to help build disruptive businesses with Struck Studio.
What did the first steps of your career look like?
The first steps of my career were frantically getting my French visa approved and packing my bags to start at Interpol with about a week’s notice. I landed on a Sunday when all the shops were closed, didn’t speak a lick of French, and lived in a hotel until I could get a local to act as a guarantor for an apartment rental. It was a bit like Emily in Paris minus the amazing outfits and IG following.
I spent the first half of my career in the counterterrorism space working in Europe and the Middle East — to say I have enough stories for a lifetime would be an understatement!
How did you get started in venture and what ultimately sparked your interest from counterterrorism to the world of tech startups and Venture Capital?
I originally came back to LA for family reasons, intending to stay a week or two. That quickly turned into a month, and now it’s been almost six years back!
I got connected to Greycroft through a recruiter, primarily assisting the partners with anything they needed to get done. The trio of partners in the LA office to this day remain my greatest inspirations and reasons for getting into the investment side of VC. It’s the perfect “desk job” for curious minds who want to make the world a better place, just like me.
What attracted you to the role at Struck Studio and what are you currently working on over there?
I’ve known Greg and Adam for several years tangentially in the LA VC space, and the opportunity to join the studio from day one was incredibly compelling. As Principal on the Studio team, I work on about four venture cycles including at least one prototype company at any given time. You can think of me as a generalist in the space with a slight lean towards security, consumer and enterprise products, but I’m definitely most passionate about building things that help people. One studio concept that I’m especially bullish on is flipping the housing industry on its head by enabling people to live wherever they want. Instead of offering a traditional 12-month rental agreement to a single apartment or home, we can offer one lease that gives access to properties across the globe – perfect for today’s digital nomad. For someone like myself who loves an international element and learning about new marketplaces, I cannot wait to watch and support this concept grow.
What is your vision for our work at Struck Studio?
My ultimate vision for us is to build amazing companies that live on their own and truly make the world a better place. It’s important to me that the companies we build solve real problems with creative and diligent execution.
What excited you the most about Struck Studio?
Venture studios are amazing concepts because in theory they leverage talent, experience, and resources to create companies in a far more fluid cycle than a standard startup would. There’s no wonder we see so many popping up these days!
The hands-on model at Struck Studio equips startups with a defined product, validated customer demand, and product market fit. It’s incredibly exciting to offer founders de-risked access to the world of startups.
Any tips for aspiring tech builders and entrepreneurs?
Come partner with us! Beyond that, the VC bull market of the past decade or so has led to some outlandish expectations and norms. A lot of companies, VCs, and funds won’t make it over the next several years, and that’s okay. What will hopefully rise from the ashes are good business practices, high-integrity VCs, operationally viable businesses, and ultimately better long-term outcomes for our industry.
Outside of work, what keeps you busy? We’ve heard around the office that you’re quite the world traveler!
Anything outdoors! In LA, my weekends are usually a mix of beach volleyball, paddle tennis, (attempting to) surf, dinner parties, family time, and maybe a cheeky night out. I also love to travel and usually visit 5-10 countries per year, whether that’s seeing family, meeting up with friends, or discovering amazing off-the-beaten path destinations.