Mergelane Blog

Broadening the On-ramp for Women-run Companies

MergeLane Demo Day | The Compliments that Made Me Cry

I hate crying almost as much as I hate being labeled as a “female entrepreneur” or a “female investor.” Both of these things make me feel weak and vulnerable, as if I’m somehow not strong enough to play in the major leagues. But if there is one thing I’ve learned on this incredible ride of founding an accelerator for women, it’s this: My female qualities that I’ve taught myself to hate – deep empathy, vulnerability, etc — are an intrinsic part of why my female partners and I were able to pull together an accelerator and an inaugural first class that was seen as top-tier.

By the end of our first Demo Day, I was so tired, I could barely speak. It was a level of exhaustion I’ve experienced very few times in my life, but it wasn’t because of my lack of sleep.  It was because I was emotionally overcome.

At least 100 people went out of their way to give MergeLane heartfelt positive feedback. These weren’t just generic congratulations and pats on the back. These were truly moving compliments, nearly every one of which made me teary. By the 99th compliment at 9pm, I was so emotionally exhausted from trying not to cry, I collapsed into bed. When I woke up and started to reflect on all of this, I decided it was time. On the morning after our wildly successful Demo Day, I let myself cry. I cried, and cried and cried because I was so proud of our amazing MergeLane teams, my partners Sue Heilbronner and Hannah Davis, and all of our investors, mentors and sponsors who took this giant leap with us.

To express my sincere gratitude for the privilege of being a part of MergeLane, I’d like to share a few of the most tear-jerking compliments:

From Tom Wyman, Borealis Ventures:

What a great day! Some highlights for me were…The people! Everyone was so warm, friendly and easy to talk to. I think it’s at least in part because we all felt connected by being part of something wonderful.

Being able to bring my daughter Sammy! She’s 15, loved it, and spent dinner tonight quizzing me on what happened in the investor meetings. As my girls grow I’m always thrilled when we develop a new shared interest that allows us to connect in a new way. That happened today.

The pride I felt when the people I invited told me how glad they were they attended. They all said some version of, “Wait a minute! Every day I go to work and you get to hang out with MergeLane teams!?! How do I get in on the action?”

A tweet from Daniel Zacek, 9-1-1 Labs:

Days like today, the orgs like @Mergelane & @NCWIT, and a community that supports them are why we’re raising our daughter in Boulder.

From Seth Levine, the Foundry Group:

Today was amazing. Loved the creativity, energy and pure fun factor of demo day. It was awesome! And I thought the teams did great. You guys hit this out of the park!

From Nancy Stevens, First Western Trust:

The room was electric, the presentations were exceptional, and most importantly the companies have come incredibly far in their 12 weeks being a part of MergeLane. To follow on Sue’s words, I am PROUD to be a MergeLane sponsor.

From Hugh Bernardi, Interwest Distribution Company:

Not only have you made a huge impact on their businesses, but you’ve made a huge impact on these women. They simply look and sound like different people. From the authority in their voice to the way the way they hold themselves in the world, you aren’t just accelerating companies, you are building extraordinary women.

Thank you, thank you, thank you to all of you for believing in us, volunteering your time, investing in our teams, sponsoring our efforts and, most importantly, for making me cry.

Related Posts

Will COVID-19 Slow VC Investment? Our Initial Survey Results

Since we are all wondering how COVID-19 will affect venture capital investment, I surveyed some of my Fund81 VC forum members to take quick pulse on their investment plans. Below is the data from the first 34 respondents.

Read more ➞

Managing Anxiety | Lessons from an Anxious Entrepreneur

I have battled anxiety for many years. In that journey, I've learned a lot about how to manage it and support others who battle anxiety as well. I thought it might be helpful to share my thoughts.

Read more ➞

Choosing a Venture Capital Fund Administrator

We’re considering a few different fund administration solutions. I have a lot of questions that other fund managers may have as well. I invited Tiffany Cholez from CFO Fund Services to answer some of these questions live.

Read more ➞

Fund81 in 2020 and Lessons from a Bout of Holiday Depression

In this latest Fund81 podcast episode, I share my 2020 plans for the Fund81 forum and podcast, and a few reflections from my short bout of holiday depression.

Read more ➞

The Complete Guide to Composing Startup Investor Updates

I’ve now read over a thousand startup investor updates. The most effective updates — the ones that immediately grab my attention and heighten my interest — have similar characteristics. My advice is below, along with a comprehensive template for startup investor updates.

Read more ➞

Episode #20: Venture Capital Lessons from 2000 and 2008: Preparing for a Downturn

At MergeLane, we’ve been thinking about how changing market conditions may affect our fund in the future. I know many of our listeners are asking themselves that question as well. Our guest, Liza Benson, thrived as a VC through both the dot-com crash in 2000 and the 2008 financial crisis.

Read more ➞

Episode #19: The LP Perspective and the #OpenLP Reboot with Beezer Clarkson

Beezer Clarkson invests in early-stage venture funds at Sapphire Partners (the division within Sapphire Ventures that invests in venture funds). In this episode, Beezer shares her perspective on venture capital trends, VC firm differentiation, and nonobvious mistakes for VC fund managers to avoid. 

Read more ➞

If Your VC Fund Makes You a Pirate, Should You Abandon Ship?

As an entrepreneur and startup investor, I have had many moments of feeling like I am pushing water uphill with a rake. Sometimes, I have kept pushing and have succeeded out of sheer grit. Sometimes, it was time to admit defeat. Two years ago, I had one of those moments. 

Read more ➞

Episode #18: Assessing Hustle with the Hustle Fund

Elizabeth Yin, co-founder and general partner at the Hustle Fund, shared her thoughts on how to assess a startup’s ability to “hustle”. Her thoughts are applicable to venture capitalists, startups and anyone who wants to work with hustlers. 

Read more ➞

“Sorry for the Delay”? I Don’t Accept Your Apology

Nearly every email I receive starts with “Sorry for the delay.” Our always-on culture has set an unwritten expectation that an email should be responded to within 24 hours. To prevent the perpetuation of this cultural expectation, I would like to make my thoughts clear.

Read more ➞