How Silvio Memme Went From Ferrari and Alfa Romeo to Venture Capital


  • Former engineer Silvio Memme has had a non-traditional path into venture capital. 
  • Before he invested in startups, he lived in Italy designing engines for Ferrari and Alfa Romeo.  
  • Memme says his technical experience as an engineer has been very helpful for his work as a VC.

It was 2017 and Silvio Memme felt like something in his career was missing. 

Memme was excelling as a mechanical engineer, designing engines for Italian luxury car company Alfa Romeo. 

In fact, he had always thought of himself as a mechanical engineer, graduating at the top of his engineering class at the University of Toronto and then getting his first job at Ferrari right out of graduate school. 

But as Memme spent more time as an engineer, he began to feel like there was something else that he could pursue.

“I loved what I did,” Memme said. “I also was hoping to be able to think a little bit more strategically, and maybe not only focus on one specific product, but have the opportunity to impact a lot of different technologies.” 

Plus, he was tired of having to constantly travel between Italy and Detroit, Michigan, the home of Alfa Romeo’s parent company, Fiat Chrysler. He missed being in Toronto, his hometown. 

But when he was looking for new jobs at home, he couldn’t find any in the auto industry that interested him. So he called up one of his mentors from Alfa Romeo, who suggested looking into MBA programs. 

For Memme, it seemed like the perfect way to find a new career path. He had always excelled in school, so it was no surprise when he got his acceptance letter to Harvard Business School. 

After graduating from Harvard, he got accepted into a work-study program at OMERS Ventures, the venture investing arm of the Canadian pension fund. There was no guarantee of a job afterwards, but Memme took the fellowship anyway, eager to try his hand at investing.

He turned out to be a natural. Memme helped with special investment projects related to climate tech, energy, artificial intelligence, and of course, transportation, and found all of his expert knowledge transferred over seamlessly to the role. 

“As an engineer, you’re typically analyzing data, you’re trying to dissect problems, and break them into bite sized pieces to find the root cause of things,” he said.”I think that thought process is transferable to dissecting problems within companies or opportunities within companies. Plus, being able to speak the same language as the people who are building those technologies has proven to be very helpful.” 

After a few months working on a project by project basis at OMERS Ventures, Memme was able to “convince enough people on the team” that he knew what he was doing, and landed a full-time investor role last November. 

So far, he’s found that the combination of his technical expertise and his willingness to learn new things has been the key to his success in venture capital. 

His one piece of advice for aspiring VCs that don’t come from a finance background: “I think with time you start to realize that even if you are a generalist, being a little bit more strategic in terms of how you source deals and who you talk to is important,” he said. 


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