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.
In this Fund81 podcast episode, I invited Brad Feld, founding partner of Foundry Group, to share his thoughts on maintaining mental health in the fast-paced venture capital world and supporting portfolio companies, colleagues, friends and family wrestling with mental health issues.
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As a venture capitalist, I am frequently surrounded by exceptionally high-performing and inspiring people. Until recently, I had never stopped to think about the impact of that.
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I am extremely disciplined and focused. However, this can also be a detriment. Anything I perceive as a distraction from my to-do list feels stressful, and I have to constantly tell myself that off-the-to-do-list opportunities are often the best opportunities. I was recently reminded of that.
For the final episode of Fund81's first season, I interviewed Jaclyn Freeman Hester from Foundry Group. As someone relatively new to the industry, she has a fresh perspective on what's compelling to institutional investors and an incredible pulse on the landscape for emerging VC managers. Enjoy!
Could I be more effective if I simply surrendered to a schedule that felt natural to me? After some serious self-reflection and experimentation, I can unequivocally say YES.
I’m trying to focus my time on opportunities to operate in my zone of genius and a few select priority areas in line with my passions and in which I feel I can make the most impact, aka my true north. To help all of us stay the course, I thought it might be helpful to share those priorities.