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Passing The Mic: The VC Exchange
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Passing The Mic: The VC Exchange

Author: The Allyship

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Dive into the minds of North America’s leading Venture Capitalists. These are the real stories and insider knowledge you need to unlock the power of diversity and understand the closed-network of venture capital. In each episode, we venture down to a new learning path, giving you insights into the most relevant issues women in venture capital are facing today and how to solve them. We’ll be sharing the unique journeys and go-to resources that women venture capitalists rely on to succeed.
9 Episodes
Lisa Marino is the founder and CEO of Mamas Uncut, a digital media property founded upon a community of moms helping moms, which has grown to include a broad children’s product offering as well as brand and charitable partnerships that support underserved communities. Previously, she was at the San Francisco-based social gaming and media entertainment company, RockYou, where she began as VP of Sales and eventually became CEO. Early in her career, Lisa also spent a number of years in Tech M&A. As a Mexican American, she is very committed to supporting the Hispanic/Latino communities with resources, and thus, she appreciates Pacific Clinics' commitment to helping diverse populations. Lisa also understands and is passionate about the challenges those with mental health issues face, especially in the youth community. She joined the Pacific Clinics Board to better advocate for societal investments in these critical areas. Episode HighlightsLessons learned around financing a Unicorn companyHow to build a multi-million dollar company without raising fundsDealing with emotional requests from Venture Capitalists The importance of knowing your business and sales process when raising funds
Cindy Padnos is the founder and Managing Partner of Illuminate Ventures, a VC firm leading Seed-stage investments in B2B/Enterprise software companies across North America. She has a particular interest in the intersection of cloud computing with trends that impact the Future of Work. Her investment exits include acquisitions by Autodesk, Hearst, Cloudera, New Relic, Vista Equity Partners and Rubicon Technology Partners as well as successful IPOs for Xactly (NYSE: XTLY and Coupang (NYSE: CPNG). Cindy’s current portfolio includes market leaders like BrightEdge (SEO), Contentstack (headless CMS), Arkestro (AI-enabled procurement orchestration) and Pex (attribution and rights management for video content).Prior to her investing career, Cindy was a successful B2B software company operator – including as founder and CEO of early SaaS startup Vivant president and CEO of Acumen and VP marketing at Scopus Technology.Cindy has been honored as one of the Most Influential Women in Technology (Fast Company) and Most Influential Women in Silicon Valley (New York Times). She gained her BA at the University of Michigan (magna cum laude) and MSIA/MBA, with honors, at Carnegie Mellon’s Tepper School where she serves as Vice Chair of the Business Board of Advisors. Cindy has had the honor of offering commencement addresses at both schools. Encouraging diversity in the tech sector is one of Cindy’s longstanding passions. Among other activities she has authored several widely-cited research papers to expand awareness of the positive impact that diversity can bring to our innovation economy.Episode HighlightsHow having a clear understanding of the expectations of both the VC's and Entrepreneurs is the key to a successful relationshipThat being conscious of building professional credibility is important for all VC's, especially womenBias often isn't intentional, but all firms should be consciously working towards leveling the playing field for women going forward
Astrid is the CEO at Agni, a company that makes healing foods and teas to support women along the reproductive health continuum. Agni’s cookies, teas, and seasonings are designed to replenish nutrients women are most often depleted of and to support hormone balance, better periods, fertility, pregnancy, and postpartum recovery. Agni infuses science and wisdom in all they do in collaboration with experts in Western Medicine, Ayurveda, Chinese Medicine, Herbalism, and Holistic Nutrition. Agni is committed to serving people and the planet by nourishing people through a sustainable supply chain that does no harm.Episode HighlightsWhy you need diversity on your cap table and how only having male or female investors inverses the problem of diversity and success.Every business and individual is unique, so even if you try using the same blueprint as someone else, your pathway will look different.Being proactive in building a balanced culture helps with hiring the right people and finding the best investors.
Sara Brand and Kerry Rupp are the General Partners of True Wealth Ventures, one of the first venture firms founded by women to invest in women.  The Austin-based duo are known for being on the forefront of women-focused and women-led investments. As thought leaders in their fields, they are frequently sought out as speakers, coaches and judges as well as contributors on topics such as the advantages of investing in women entrepreneurs and the importance of engaging more women as investors. Each of the women have a set of skills and background experiences that not only guide them in their investment decisions, but add significantly to the success of the companies they join as board members and advisors. Outside of work, Sara and Kerry take pride in being actively involved in a community that never ceases to inspire them.Episode HighlightsSara and Kerry reflect on barriers to entry for women in venture capital.The leaders behind True Wealth Ventures double down on their investment thesis to fund women-led business.Advice for female entrepreneurs and the impact women have in venture capital.
Mellie is an angel investor/venture capitalist, entrepreneur, IT/Technology and Management/Strategy Consultant and Product Innovation Executive with 20+ years of experience across multiple industries including telecommunications & cable, utilities & power generation, banking, healthcare, government, and food. She is currently a venture partner at Archangel, Axion Fund and the Executive Director of Competitive Product Research & Strategic Insights at a Leading Global Telecom/Media Company. Mellie holds a BS in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Waterloo and an MBA from Kellogg (Northwestern) and the Schulich School of Business (York University). She is currently pursuing her executive leadership and management certification from MIT Sloan. Mellie resides in Philadelphia but will always call Canada home.EPISODE HIGHLIGHTSCan overqualification be a downfall? Tips for females entering the investing landscapeFirms who embrace diversity and female leadership
Tracy Killoren Chadwell is the Founding Partner of 1843 Capital, a venture capital fund focused on early stage technology companies. Through her work she hopes to change the way we view and experience aging. In 2021, Tracy was named to Forbes Magazine’s Inaugural “50 Over 50” list and in 2019 to Entrepreneur Magazine’s list of “100 Powerful Women.” Notable investments include Beautycounter (Exited: $1B), Tempo Automation (Exited Nasdaq:TMPO), and May Mobility. Formerly, she was a Partner at Baker Capital, a $1Billion growth capital fund and a VP at Robertson Stephens.  She is a current Board member Recuro Health, Advisory Board member, Corsha, and Millennium Technology Venture New Horizons Fund. She is also an Adviser UBS Project Entrepreneur, and Board Member Early Stage Montana.EPISODE HIGHLIGHTSLawyers can become great venture capitalists.  Tracy is proof.There is an advantage that comes with age that opens new doors.All female leadership teams come with new insights.
Jesse Draper is a mother of 3 boys, founding partner of Halogen Ventures as well as creator and host of Emmy nominated television series, The Valley Girl Show. Draper is a 4th generation venture capitalist focused on early stage investing in consumer technology companies led by female and co-ed teams. Among her 65 portfolio companies are the Skimm, Carbon38, HopSkipDrive, The Flex Company, Squad (acquired by Twitter), Eloquii (sold to Walmart) and This is L (sold to P&G). She stars on SET's television series Meet the Draper's currently in it's fourth season. Draper was listed by Marie Claire magazine as one of the ‘50 Most Connected Women in America’. Draper has been a contributor to Marie Claire, Mashable, Forbes, and is a regular investor and tech personality on shows including TLC’s Girl Starter, The Katie Couric Show, Fox’s Good Day LA, CNBC’s Who Wants to Be the Next Millionaire Inventor? & Freeform’s Startup U. She proudly sits on the board of directors of Carbon38, Trust & Will, Preemadonna (creator of the Nailbot) and the non-profit boards Bizworld and Project Glimmer. Draper supports the Parkinson’s Institute and is very involved with growing UCLA’s female entrepreneurship community. EPISODE HIGHLIGHTSIt is crucial to foster diversity from all aspects of business: diversity of thought, diversity of people, teams, investments, and products.If you want to switch careers, go for it! It is possible to pivot at any stage of your career.The potential to invest in women is still untapped. Women-founded companies outperform their male counterparts, and bring in outsized returns.
In this episode, Sara Lindquist shares her unique journey as a woman who’s freshly entering the venture capital industry. Now an associate from FUSE Capital based in Seattle, Sara shares how her experiences with her previous roles, mentors, and team at FUSE have helped her succeed in her current position. She highlights the importance for women to nurture mentorship and community in order to pave the way for an incoming generation of women venture capitalists.EPISODE HIGHLIGHTSIt is possible to enter venture capital with an “untraditional” background. Young partners and associates in venture capital bring fresh and innovative perspectives to the deal-making process.Mentorship is a crucial way to forge new connections and enter venture capital.
Michelle brings her expertise and experience in venture capital to the table. She speaks about her journey when entering the VC industry and what led her to venture into starting her firm, StandUp Ventures. Michelle and her team at StandUp Ventures are advocates for women in venture capital and primarily invest in women-led companies. In this episode, Michelle shares how to navigate the barriers to entry in the industry and what we can learn from the emerging female entrepreneurship scene in Toronto and Waterloo. Michelle highlights the importance of diversity, community, mentorship, women in leadership, and finding the courage women need to embark into the venture capital world.EPISODE HIGHLIGHTS• You do not need to be a technologist to start your own tech company.• More women in venture capital need to lead by encouraging other women to enter the VC industry.• Women founders seek women funders. Diversity in the investment community needs to happen in order for more women to get funded.• Mentorship is a way to train the next generation of women venture capitalists.• Academic institutions, such as universities, need to spread awareness about venture capital in Canada to promote more Canadian talent entering the industry.• For hiring managers: find, enter, and recruit where diverse talent is located.
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