Samira Behrouzan ’22 EMBA is accelerating games and tech innovation, and opportunities

Marketing leader channels new opportunities for founders with the help of the IE Brown Executive MBA program.

Tethered to Sega Saturn and N64 consoles in her childhood, playing Shinobi or Perfect Dark, did Samira Behrouzan ’22 EMBA ever envision that she’d someday help shape the future of games?

photo of Samira Behrouzan

Gaming dream now reality

Behrouzan recently joined a16z, a leading venture capital firm that backs “bold entrepreneurs building the future through technology,” according to the company’s website. “It’s a dream come true,” Behrouzan says. “I’m honored I’ll have the privilege of collaborating with the next generation of visionary founders who are pushing the boundaries at the intersection of games and tech.”

As a marketing partner on the A16Z GAMES team, Behrouzan is focused on SPEEDRUN, the accelerator at the intersection of games x tech. Through the program, A16Z GAMES is committed to investing up to $75 million into pre-seed startups. Applicants selected for the highly competitive program will participate in an intensive twelve-week program designed to support some of the best games x tech founders as they begin their startup journeys.

This program is a difference maker for a lot of students and founders who don’t realize that venture capital is a viable way to get their game startups off the ground. "With SPEEDRUN, it’s not just an investment we’re making in your idea or company. We’ve got a team of seasoned veterans who've been working across games in different capacities, ready to pass on everything they know to help you get from idea to launch. Ultimately we’re betting on teams who have an earned secret, conviction, and proof of demand/PMF," Behrouzan says.


Advancing change in the gaming culture

While completing the IE Brown Executive MBA program, Behrouzan held marketing leadership positions at ZEDD Music, Riot Games, and 100 Thieves. She says one of the reasons she was attracted to the program was its embrace of international experiences. On average, more than 20 nationalities are represented in the classroom, and residencies are held in Madrid, Providence and Cape Town. “I love the idea of being exposed to new cultures, so that was important to me,” she says. “And when I reviewed the curriculum and saw the breadth of it, I got excited. I liked that I would hear from experts in capitalism, accounting, strategy, and other topics that were relevant to my day-to-day work.”
Commencement on Sunday, May 29, 2022. Photo courtesy of Samira Behrouzan

According to Behrouzan, progressing through the program was nothing less than transformative. “I walked away with lifelong friends like Jarvis Sam, who changed my perspective on the world and gave me the confidence to chase my dreams and aspirations,” she says. “To emerge as a more refined professional and person was an unexpected outcome.”

The program’s Key Reflection Project (KRP) allowed Behrouzan to delve into issues in the games world that are important to her. “I really love games, the industry and the people in it,” she says. “I want to continue to see it evolve and innovate. How do we become more inclusive? How do we become more accessible?”

While she has achieved success, Behrouzan says games can be a difficult industry to break into. “With my Key Reflection Project, I wanted to understand what was happening and why,” she says. “Historically, if you went to a department store to buy video games, they were always in the boys’ section, never the girls’. People are starting to understand that women make up a big part of the games industry, both as professionals and players. But the culture hasn’t necessarily caught up.” 

Behrouzan is grateful that her KRP team let her take the lead as they explored ways to address underrepresentation and marginalization in industries. “In gaming, you’re starting to see a diversity of characters, champions and agents, in addition to full blown customization,” she says. “And you’re also starting to see representation in leadership from people from different cultures and backgrounds. That needs to continue. I want to push those boundaries.”

The ultimate win

Behrouzan recommends the IE Brown Executive MBA program to any professional who wants to further their education and gain broad business experience. “I learned a lot and met amazing people,” she says. “By going through the program, I feel like I was forged in the fire, and now I’m a better speaker, presenter, and ally to people in my organization. I’m more well-rounded.”

“ By going through the program, I feel like I was forged in the fire, and now I’m a better speaker, presenter and ally to people in my organization. I’m more well-rounded. ”


As she heads up the SPEEDRUN initiative for A16Z GAMES and draws on skills that she honed at Brown, Behrouzan hopes to evolve the games industry while serving as a role model for others. “I want to show the youth that there is a path in games where they can trailblaze and do really cool stuff,” she says. “I want someone to see what I’m doing and say, ‘Oh, she did it, and I can do it, too.’” 

For Samira Behrouzan, lifelong gamer turned change-maker, that would be the sweetest victory.


Want to secure 750K for your tech x games startup? Learn more about SPEEDRUN.


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