Zabie Elmgren

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Biography

Zabie leads early-stage network development where she focuses on working with engineers and future founders early in their careers. She also spends time helping founders shape their strategies around building out initial engineering teams.

Prior to joining Index, Zabie was a Principal at Human Capital. During her time at HC, the firm grew from managing less than $5M to over $600M and helped onboard several of the first 50 engineers at Brex, Robinhood, Snowflake, Nuro, and more.

Zabie is a graduate of Harvard University with a B.A. in Computer Science and secondary in Economics. Beyond the workplace, she's bound to be first in line to ski KT-22 at Squaw Valley on a powder day; seeking out the Bay Area’s funkiest froyo options; or playing godmother to her friends’ furry, four-legged kin. 

In Conversation

How is hiring for early-stage startups different from later-stage companies?

Zabie– When it comes to talent, the earliest stage of a business is a whole different ball game. Building a strong team is the foundation of any great company. For anyone coming from a larger tech firm, startup hiring feels much more like strategically piecing together a great sports team. As a founder, your job is to create the '90-'97 Chicago Bulls of tech teams, and it turns out Phil Jackson’s job wasn’t easy!

How did you get the name "Zabie?"

Zabie– When I explain that the “Zab” of my nickname derives from “Elizabeth,” it usually elicits an "ah-ha" moment of recognition. My parents argued over Beth, Liz, Liza and more until a charming neighbor and one-time Parisian chanteuse insisted they adopt the sobriquet, “Zabie” (pronounced like “Abby” but with a “Z”). It’s also an obscure reference to the Louis Malle movie, “Zazie dans le Métro,” about a youngster who wreaks havoc in Paris. No relation though, I promise!

Which mentor has influenced your work the most? 

Zabie– I have Jim Waldo, my former CS advisor and professor, on speed dial. He's been my principal go-to for advice, especially on the big-picture questions about the impact that technology can have on society. It’s a large part of why I’m so excited to be working with incredible companies like Arthur AI and Stytch– companies that address the causes of ethics in artificial intelligence and privacy in technology, respectively. His inter-disciplinary approach also influences how I view the backgrounds of engineers and founders I partner with. Jim is now CTO of Harvard, teaching both at the Kennedy School of Government and Engineering School. What you wouldn’t pick up from a quick scroll of his Linkedin profile is that Jim used his undergrad degree in philosophy and passion for linguistics to write the languages Java and C++ during his time at Sun Microsystems. It’s the unique backgrounds reflecting passions beyond engineering or business that always stand out to me.