We are excited to announce that MergeLane will be accepting its first class of women-led startups in February of 2015. After years of running, mentoring and investing in startups, Sue Heilbronner saw a need for this and I am so thankful she convinced me to join her.
After becoming increasingly aware that she was often the only woman in the entrepreneurial startup room, Sue called me and said “I have a great idea, are you sitting down? I think you and I should start an accelerator for women-led businesses.” And I thought, “Sue, I love you, but I’m not sure I’m bought in.”
I was well aware of the looming accelerator shake out and I have always been a fan of diversity rather than all-female efforts. Luckily, persuasion is one of Sue’s best talents. She of course, wouldn’t take no for an answer and asked: “As an angel investor and entrepreneur, aren’t you tired of being the only female in the room? And you like to invest in women and male/female teams, right?”
In fact, I was tired of being the only woman in the room and I do like to invest in women, both because I tend to meet extraordinary entrepreneurs who happen to be women and because the statistics overwhelmingly show that women-led and gender-diverse businesses perform better. So I thought, hmm…..maybe I should give this some thought.
And her persuasion continued. “I’m not proposing that we start an all-female accelerator. I’m proposing that we start an accelerator that is backed by an equal number of male and female investors and mentors, and is uniquely designed to activate female leaders,” Sue said.
So…this started to sound a little more interesting. As angel investors and mentors, Sue and I had met with hundreds of female entrepreneurs and had chatted many times about the different nuances of female vs. male entrepreneurs (more on that in a future blog post). But would top-tier female entrepreneurs apply for a female-focused accelerator? Would investors want to invest in something like this?
After talking to about 150 of the most respected entrepreneurs and angel investors in our network and beyond, I can emphatically say YES.
Because of the overwhelmingly positive response and support we’ve received, we are ready to announce that our first class will start on February 2, 2015 – seven months ahead of schedule.
Sue sent me this picture of the note I left at her house after her fourth attempt to artfully persuade me. I am so glad she has such a talent for that. I am humbled to join her and the long list of influential and inspiring people who have agreed to join us in this effort.
As an entrepreneur, I know how to push water uphill with a rake. Now I’ll just have to learn how to move with a current that’s faster than me.
In this Fund81 podcast episode, we talk about something that has made our team at MergeLane better investors - the Enneagram Personality Typing System. To talk about how the Enneagram can help other VCs, I invited Kaley Klemp to join the podcast.
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.
We are big proponents of using the 15 Commitments in the work we do in Conscious Leadership. However, as an Enneagram Type 1 who is most happy at maximum productivity, I’ve always had a hard time buying into Commitment #9, the commitment to play and rest. Until yesterday….
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!
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.
I gave first without question for almost five years. It came back to me in spades. I don’t regret it, and I think it was exactly the right thing for me to do at the time. But then….it just got to be too much.
Dave Balter, the CEO of one of our MergeLane portfolio companies, Flipside Crypto, shares his perspective on investing in the cryptocurrency space. Dave is obsessed with and extremely knowledgeable about cryptocurrency, and has an interesting perspective from both sides of the table.
Most venture capital funds target a minimum ownership percentage when making investments. In this Fund81 episode, Amish Jani, a founder and Managing Director of FirstMark Capital, shares his take on why ownership matters and how funds of different sizes and strategies determine ownership targets.
Venture capital funds are typically structured to have a 10-year lifespan, but venture-backed companies often take more than 10 years to achieve an exit and return capital to their investors. In this Fund81 podcast episode, we discuss solutions to this problem with our our guest, Roland Reynolds.