From chemistry major to Forbes list

University of Miami alumnus Sam Peurifoy used his degrees in math and chemistry to launch a successful career in venture capital.
Sam Peurifoy
College of Arts and Sciences alumnus Sam Peurifoy. Photo: Natalia Peurifoy

The connection between University of Miami alumnus Sam Peurifoy’s chemistry background and his success in the financial sector is not immediately obvious.

But Peurifoy, who recently made Forbes’ 30 Under 30 Venture Capital” list, said he uses his chemistry degree from the College of Arts and Sciences more often than one might think.

“The important part about chemistry is it’s very complicated to try to explain to people who are outside the discipline,” said Peurifoy, who also majored in math and has a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from Columbia University. “If you can bridge the gap by being able to explain that complex work to someone outside of it, then what you have is the ability to break down and explain very complex topics.”

That’s a skill that comes in handy in Peurifoy’s work leading investments in gaming and early-stage businesses at Hivemind Capital Partners, a firm focused on blockchain-related investments that launched in 2021 with a $1.5 billion crypto fund. In this role, Peurifoy has to constantly learn about new industries as he evaluates whether to invest in nascent businesses. “In venture, every day you’re introduced to a completely new topic, and because of that, communication becomes incredibly important,” he explained.

Peurifoy also serves as the CEO of Playground Labs, a startup that builds online games incorporating digital assets. In addition, he holds three patents related to alternative energy and has co-authored 20 peer-reviewed scientific articles.

By anyone’s measure, that’s a lot to accomplish before the age of 30. But Peurifoy, who graduated from the University of Miami in 2016, said he was surprised when Forbes included him in the magazine’s 2024 “30 Under 30 Venture Capital” list, which recognizes successful young investors.

Peurifoy first got into the financial sector through his interest in renewable energy. At the University of Miami, where he was a Foote Fellow, Peurifoy was involved in research on materials that can be used to produce solar energy. Then, after completing his Ph.D., he was recruited to Goldman Sachs’ Global Investment Research division, where he focused on renewable and alternative energy strategies. He later worked at a startup before making the transition to venture capital. 

As both the CEO of his own company and a founding partner at Hivemind, Peurifoy stays incredibly busy.    

Still, he loves his work. “I wouldn’t do anything else,” he said. “I love everything to do with computers and science and math.” The only change he would make, Peurifoy joked, is “if I could somehow inject chemistry into what I’m doing, I would 100 percent do it.”

Peurifoy’s advice for other chemistry and math majors who are interested in entering the business world is to focus on research topics that often get public or private sector funding. He also recommends students try to produce a deliverable—such as a peer-reviewed paper—that they can share with prospective employers. Equally important, he said, is to “get really, really good at communicating exactly what your ideas are.”

No matter what their career goals are, Peurifoy also advises students to get involved in community engagement activities. At the University of Miami, he founded a program called USolar to teach children in elementary schools about solar power.

“Try to get involved in at least one outreach organization,” he said. “You might not only broaden your own horizons but also, importantly, it will give you a better perspective on problems that are real” in order to help come up with solutions.