Transforming Scientific Theory into Reality: The Illustrious Career of Tess Hatch
Imagine a more equitable future where everyday people might travel to space just as easily as boarding a commercial airline flight. A more sustainable future where coffee can be brewed without beans, and where plants are used to create delicious, realistic meat. This future is the vision of University of Michigan alumna, Tess Hatch. As a partner at Bessemer Venture Partners, she strategically invests her time, funds and expertise to convert scientific theory into commonplace practice.
Her journey began at the University of Michigan College of Engineering, where she earned her BSE in aerospace and aeronautical engineering. Although in her earliest days of college, she had not yet encountered venture capital, Tess knew her passion for the stars above would become a guiding light for her career.
“I have fond memories of and great relationships with all of my Michigan aerospace professors,” she said. “Those relationships are the absolute highlight.”
To this day, Tess remains close to her alma mater, where she shares her own success with curious students, future entrepreneurs, and the next generation of bright, young women looking to break the glass ceiling.
After her time at Michigan, Tess’ impressive engineering career led her to Boeing, and later SpaceX, where she worked on integrating payloads with the Falcon9 rocket. However, during her graduate education at Stanford University, Tess realized the value of a business acumen as a complement to her technical background.
“At Stanford, everything is intertwined with entrepreneurship,” she said. “It’s very important as a technical engineer to have a wide range of skills to communicate your ideas and the business implications of the tech on which you are working.”
This discovery introduced her to the world of venture capital and entrepreneurship, and the next level of her career. Today, Tess is a proud partner of Bessemer Venture Partners, and invests in a brighter future powered by cutting-edge technology and the nation’s brightest minds.
“I get to spend my time in all these fascinating industries, meeting with entrepreneurs who are really changing theory to reality. They’re propelling the world forward.”
After joining Bessemer in 2017, Tess has expanded her investment portfolio to encompass eleven groundbreaking companies. In the past four months alone, three of which have gone public. These newly public companies are: Rocket Lab (NASDAQ: RKLB), Spire (NYSE: SPIR), and Velo3D (NYSE: VLD).
“[These companies] have proven and unique technology, revenue hypergrowth, and brilliant founders,” she said. “I am so excited for them.”
These IPOs are opening space for business by lowering the barrier of access to space. Although the promising technology of these firms initially caught her eye, she spends much of her time and focus now on working with and building relationships with the CEOs of these companies.
“I’m there for my founders. Whether it’s in the boardroom, helping these founders make strategic decisions to steer the future of the company, or talking through product market fit, team dynamics, or market trends,” she said.
Her venture portfolio emphasizes entrepreneurship at the frontier of food technology, autonomous vehicles, drones, and the commercialization of space. Although her portfolio spans a diverse array of industries and sectors, each investment directly addresses a pressing global need.
One of these critical issues is the pernicious environmental effects of domestic agriculture. In the United States, up to 96% of domestic methane emissions are generated from commercial animal husbandry (Source: US Energy Information Administration). Beyond emissions, animal agriculture can affect air, water, and soil quality (Source: Michigan State University). Tess’ food technology portfolio companies, Forever Oceans, Atomo Coffee, and Black Sheep Foods offer promising solutions to these complex issues.
“Food technology is using novel ingredients or processes to exactly mimic the original animal based product.”
Through creating a convincing, tasty alternative, these companies aim to shift consumer demand towards sustainable options. With each unit sold, the positive environmental impact intensifies.
“Black Sheep has patented branched chain fatty acid technology to create the same gamey taste of lamb, and Atomo Coffee uses upcycled agricultural materials, like nuts, roots, leaves and seeds, and is able to exactly mimic the taste of coffee.”
While these companies are still privately held, they boast massive growth potential and foreshadow a more sustainable, environmentally friendly future for us all.
In just a few short years, Tess Hatch has proven herself to be an extraordinarily talented engineer, an incisive venture capitalist, and an entrepreneur in her own right. In her future, she will continue her mission to democratize space, to improve life on Earth, and to find new opportunities for innovation.
“I’m looking forward to the next entrepreneur who shares with me a revolutionary idea in their industry. This is just the beginning.”