Biography In Conversation

Cat focuses on early-stage investments across enterprise and consumer. She’s particularly interested in data infrastructure, vertical software, and AI-powered applications.

Prior to joining Index, Cat worked at Dagster Labs where she led the development of Dagster Cloud, an enterprise-grade data orchestrator optimized for developer experience. Prior, Cat was an early engineer at Scale AI, where she led operations and partnered with strategic customers. Before that, she worked at JPMorgan and YouTube.

Cat graduated from Princeton University with a BSE in Computer Science. She currently lives in San Francisco and is an avid reader, occasional cook, and constant tinkerer.

How has your engineering background influenced your investment decisions and approach to evaluating startups?

CAT – Engineering appeals to me because it involves reasoning from first principles and building large systems from small building blocks and those are guiding philosophies for many of the companies I work with.

As an engineer, I understand many of the challenges faced by engineering teams and have navigated the technical and organizational requirements for adopting new technologies. For developer tools and data infrastructure companies, I gravitate towards products that solve a large pain point, support incremental adoption, and have an incredible developer experience. Within AI, it’s been exciting to keep up with research to understand the latest model capabilities and map that onto industries and roles that stand to benefit.

Can you share your journey from being an engineer to an operator at high-growth companies and then transitioning into venture capital?

CAT – My career path has been driven by an innate curiosity about how technology is built and how that intersects with the real world. At Scale, I quickly found that coding was a powerful tool to solve operational challenges but also worked with every other function—from marketing and sales to recruiting and operations—to help the company serve customers better. Building a company is more than a technical moat, and as an investor, I look for founders who can bridge the technical and the commercial.

What key lessons from your operational experience at high-growth companies do you apply when working with early-stage companies?

CAT – My main takeaways fall into three buckets.

First, hire people who are passionate about your product and mission. Passionate people show a level of ownership that makes the difference between a lukewarm customer and an extremely happy customer. Passionate people proactively think about how to improve products in their off cycles and surprise you by adding new features.

Second, take time to plan the bigger picture. It's easy to get caught up in the day-to-day operations. Make sure to set aside time to plan the longer-term, step-change product bets that will create differentiation and moat over time.

Third, learn from your customers. Figure out the top two pain points for every customer and position your product to solve those. Once you do that, you’ve earned the right to expand your product into adjacent areas.

How do you spend time outside of work?

CAT – I love tinkering. During Covid, I spent countless hours making leather bags, sketching out original designs and visiting tanneries to source the best leather. I’ve enjoyed making real-time multi-player online games when lockdown prevented hosting in-person board game nights. Nowadays, I’m an avid reader of non-fiction (although dabbling in sci-fi) and love bringing people together for dinners and games.