Leadership Talks – Women in Venture Capital Webinar

On April 19, 2023, at noon EST Boardsi and Martin Rowinski discussed a range of governance topics with four leading women veterans of the C-suite leadership ecosystem.


While corporations continue to emphasize balance in boardroom leadership, significant progress remains to be made for private and public companies to enhance the balance, expertise, and composition of the critical board environment.


Join our panel of leaders as they discuss their own stories across the C-suite as founders, entrepreneurs, investors, and change agents in startups, venture capital, private equity, and public companies. 


Topic One: This webinar segment focused on the historical perspective of women in the VC industry and their critical role in the venture capital ecosystem. The speaker discussed the importance of having more women in the VC industry, shared her admiration for some influential women in the industry, and provided insights into the best pathways to becoming a successful VC.


Topic Two: In this segment, the importance of building diverse teams in the VC industry was discussed, along with strategies for promoting diversity and inclusion. The benefits of having diverse teams in the VC industry were also highlighted.


Topic Three: The final segment of the webinar focused on nurturing the next generation of female founders and board members. The speaker shared some of the best ways to uplift the future generation of female founders, discussed the challenges of getting more women on boards, and provided helpful resources and tools that can drive real impact.


Martin Rowinski, co-founder and CEO of Boardsi, a digital human capital recruitment platform that was started in 2017 and is a leader in its field, will lead the discussion. He will be joined by:


Melinda Chelliah  

Entrepreneurially-minded strategist with 20+ years of finance, accounting, operations, governance, customer support, and public accounting experience at top-tier companies including Target, Universal Music Group, Disney, Deloitte, and EY. Developer of systems and tools that provide transparency into key financial and operational metrics for all levels of management.


CFO and key strategist for emerging brands such as Dermstore, and Emerios with proven effectiveness at improving operational efficiency to support revenue growth.  Successful Co-Founder of Resources Global Professionals (IPO within 5 years) and Tailored for Growth focused on developing strategic partnerships and business development. 


Melinda Moore

Award-winning entrepreneur with 15+ years of evaluation and investment success with a keen understanding of product-market fit, consumer insight, operations and performance marketing. Melinda has a founder-driven approach that has been the basis of all my investments from pre-revenue startups to multi-million dollar companies. Notable exits include STV Communications (acquired by Sonic Foundry), LovingEco (acquired by John Paul Dejoria), LOVE GOODLY (acquired by Novica), and iConsumer (mini IPO). She has a diverse investment background and has deployed over $200 million in working capital, equity crowdfunding and traditional venture capital. Melinda is an advisor to Coyote Ventures, and a mentor at TechStars and Big Idea Ventures.


Melinda is the author of How to Raise Money: The Ultimate Guide to Crowdfunding and has raised over 100 million via equity crowdfunding.  She served as the Senior Vice President for Entertainment Media Ventures. Her work has been widely recognized by Digital LA (Top 50 Digital Women in 2015), the Green Business Bureau and the National Association of Women Business Owners’ Hall of Fame.  Melinda serves on the Board of A Sense of Home and has a  B.A. from UCLA.


Sandra Campos

Sandra Campos is a Board Member, 3x CEO, 2x entrepreneur, and advisor in retail and technology. Throughout her career, she has built global lifestyle brands and has been instrumental in turnarounds, digital transformations, innovations, and international expansion. 


As a consumer, supply chain, and tech-focused operator, she is a board director for Fabric, a modular and headless commerce solution; Big Lots, omnichannel retailer on the NYSE; Daniel’s Jewelers, the fourth largest independent jewelry retailer in the US; PureRed, a PE backed advertising technology services company. 


Sandra’s C-Suite roles include being the first female CEO of iconic global retail brand Diane Von Furstenberg, President of a portfolio of $1bn global contemporary brands including Juicy Couture, Bebe, BCBG.and Herve Leger, and President of O Oscar (an Oscar de la Renta division). 


As an entrepreneur, she created the first teen celebrity brand management company, in partnership with Selena Gomez. Dream out Loud by Selena Gomez became the actress’s first lifestyle brand and was exclusive to Kmart in fourteen product categories for five years. 


Ms. Campos is a frequent keynote speaker, panelist, and regular contributor and thought leader on topics ranging from supply chain, leadership, retail innovation, ESG, and diversity in the workplace. She has received many awards, including top 100 Latina Leaders by Latino Leaders Magazine, ALPA’s Most Powerful Latina 2020-2022, Top Woman in Retail, 2019 Top Líderes in Business by Hispanic Executive Magazine, and has been honored for her service by Girls Inc. Sandra was also a member of the first all-women led SPAC, which had a business combination on the NYSE in 2021. She is an advocate for Latinos, invests in early stage Gen-Z companies, and advises startup founders. She recently launched Latina Disruptors, an event highlighting and honoring entrepreneurs who are outperforming through their execution. 


Brenda McCabe 

Brenda McCabe is a pragmatic, experienced and independent advisor. After 25 years in corporate America and Europe as VP in Sales, Operations, Governance and Auditor for professional service and pharmaceutical companies, she left the corporate world in 2008 to work with a disruptive technology firm in renewable energy.


Brenda also serves on corporate boards. She started in 2013 at a public pharmaceutical company as audit chair and co chair of a strategic committee that led to a reverse merger while in Spain. This was soon followed by independent board positions in a Private Equity portfolio company in healthcare and a privately held ESOP company in the data space in Europe and the Americas.


Brenda owns and operates a consulting firm Next Act Advisors, where she works with founders and owners on Enterprise value by identifying technological innovation out of the “lab” and bringing it into the mainstream. Next Act Advisors is a white glove advisory firm that serves entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs with disruptive technology including Healthcare Technology, Medical Devices, Clean Tech, and Enterprise SaaS. She served as interim CEO in 2020 for an enterprise SaaS company, MatchbookAI. 


The focus of her work is growth strategy, capital allocation, operational levers, compliance, leadership / CEO coaching, and team build-outs. 


With extensive global experience, she is at ease with disruptive business models in clean tech, Healthtech and enterprise SaaS as an independent thinker bringing strategic thinking to scale new business models with operational excellence and state of the art governance practices.


She is especially passionate about bringing good governance practices to the founders she works with and is the producer and host of The Founder’s Sandbox, a monthly podcast available on all mainstream platforms including Apple Podcasts and Spotify.



foreign [Music]


welcome to today’s leadership talks Series where we’ll be discussing an important topic woman in venture capital


I’m honored to be your host for this session I’m Martin rovinsky co-founder and CEO of board’s eye and at board’s


eye we specialize in modern recruitment for companies of all sizes from startups to publicly traded firms by connecting


them with the best board of directors and advisors with over six years of experience in this field we’ve gathered


valuable data that we’re constantly using to enhance our platform while we are indeed one of the industry


leaders our Marketplace is at The Cutting Edge of human Capital Management today marks an important Initiative for


our firm to embrace the conversation of woman leadership and balance and governance and augment our capabilities


for the Venture Capital Community today I’m thrilled to introduce our


esteemed panel of top woman leaders in the VC world please join me in welcoming our special


panelists we’ll start with Melinda Moore who’s an investor advisor financier and


award-winning entrepreneur with a successful track record of over 15 years in evaluation and investment and a keen


understanding of product Market fit consumer Insight operations and


Performance Marketing Melinda hi it’s such a pleasure to be here thank


you so much I think I’ve got a little cheerleader in the background which is my dog Sophia there she goes so I have


to apologize in advance for that um yeah I I’ve been a Serial


entrepreneur primarily in the entertainment space delivering 20x multiples to um our original investors


and I’ve always been kind of pushing the edge for women minorities and also the


environment so I became an expert in equity crowdfunding which is another possible way to raise capital and wrote


the book how to raise money The Ultimate Guide to crowdfunding which is available on Amazon I actually took a company


public doing a mini IPO leveraging Equity crowdfunding have deployed about


100 million dollars of working capital and invest with coyote ventures in the


Bay Area in women’s health and digital health and then invest in Tech enabled


structure through Aventura adventures and then obviously advise and sit on a


couple boards so it’s such a pleasure to be here thank you welcome Melinda


next we have Melinda chalaya a CFO CEO growth executive and a board member an


accomplished entrepreneur with over 20 years of experience in finance accounting operations governance


customer support and public accounting at renowned companies such as Target


Universal Music Group Disney Deloitte and ey Melinda


thank you so much Martin for bringing us together to talk about such an important topic of really supporting female


Founders and women in VCS I’m fortunate myself to have been supported by a community of people along my journey I’m


a founder of two companies one of which was incubated at Deloitte and we ultimately took public and another


Professional Services firm I’m an angel investor in startup technology companies


and currently run tailored for growth which is a consulting firm focused on providing CFO and strategic work for


emerging businesses I have a passion for working with companies in the cpg and


Technology space Beauty and um and the pet space is also a


particular passion of mine and we support companies with their


strategy and financial planning to ensure that they deliver on raising capital and they deliver on their growth


objectives I currently have the pleasure of sitting on the board of a wag it’s


the premier pet wellness company as their audit chair and on their comp


committee we recently ipo’d and were able to join the team in ringing the NASDAQ Bell


um it’s a pleasure to be here thank you Martin thank you Melinda uh Sandra Campos CEO


board member entrepreneur is a highly accomplished board member uh an advisor to the retail and


Technology industry throughout her impressive career she has built Global lifestyle Brands spearheaded digital


Transformations turnarounds and international expansion Sandra


hi thank you for having me I mean the two Melendez hello there’s a lot I don’t know that I can catch up with all of


that but I am someone who’s been in the retail industry throughout my entire career I’ve had several pivots from


being in a corporate executive function president CEO roles to being an entrepreneur multiple times and also


have had the opportunity to invest as an angel investor invest within VC funds


and take in a couple of companies public via spax which we’ve done which may not


be the best word at the moment but we’ve we’ve done that a couple of times had a business combination and took another


company public in the energy space and with that I continue to focus on one


entrepreneurial venture right now that I have that is about upscaling rescaling individuals within retail Beauty cpg and


I sit on several boards two of which are public boards and a couple of private boards thank you for having me awesome


welcome Sandra and last but not least Brenda McCabe she’s an advisor board director and an


angel investor and experienced an independent advisor who has spent over 25 years in Corporate America and Europe


in various leadership roles before leaving to work with a renewable energy


technology firm she currently owns and operates next ACT advisors welcome


Brenda thank you Martin and to my esteemed panelist I am probably the


oldest so after 25 years and Europe and America with McKinsey and


Company and AstraZeneca I um found my mission I discovered


disruptive technology working in the startup space um at a clean tech company I


subsequently began to sit on corporate boards public park pharmaceutical


company private Equity portfolio portfolio companies my career has been


in Europe and in Los Angeles and the United States I’m particularly passionate around women by businesses


and four verticals clean tech companies where I have a long history of experience


digital Health med tech and Enterprise SAS where I have served


as CEO interim CEO of one of my clients and I am an angel investor and recently


have created jointly with the Indus entrepreneurs a women’s fund for


pre-seed and Seed so we are actively writing checks to women-led companies sector agnostics page so thank you for


this opportunity to share our experiences I’m really looking forward and I’m so happy to have you guys here


um so let’s head into our first topic uh pioneering woman MVC success stories and


Lessons Learned um can we talk about or can you guys talk about the historical perspective of


woman in the VC industry and the critical role they play in The Venture Capital ecosystem


maybe I’ll jump in and then Brenda I’ll say it quickly I think um just a few years ago so in about 2020


women uh the amount of venture capital that flowed directly to female Founders


was measured between 2.4 and 2.6 percent which obviously is very low less than


one percent to minorities and then last year at the end of 2022 we dipped to 1.8


percent which is underneath two percent so I think um in terms of looking at the history I


think it highlights that the system is broken and needs great transformation


and disruption so that there are um more female founded venture-backed


companies um and so that’s why I’m glad that we’re having this conversation so we can talk


about ways and tools and and so that we can help change the equation but I’d say


historically we have I don’t know how you dip it two percent


um but we’re dipping at two percent so that’s where we are right now


um there are definitely women um and companies doing fund of funds that are starting to invest in more


emerging managers even including the state of California through ibank so I do think that we are seeing some efforts


always but I’ll let um Brenda take it from here in terms of her perspective but my perspective is the system is


broken and we definitely need it’s right for change yes thanks um Melinda I just briefly


this morning institutional investors published an article in which they have


been polling the private equities I’m sorry the the LPS of VCS and private


equities and and the this year is a record break a 46 of LPS are asking for


d e and i measurements within the funds that they’re invested in and you know


it’s I I it’s gone up from like 36 in the last three years and recently I had


the opportunity to speak directly with John Chamberlain the Emeritus CEO of


Cisco and when asked the question you know how do you get beyond the two percent he said you know in what what gets measured


gets done because if the VCS the fastest way to get to Greater investment in


women like companies and actually is actually getting more lpgps onto the BC funds if we were to increase the number


of women sitting on the other side of the screen evaluating Investments


10 per year we could be at parity in less than 10 years right so that two


percent could go up the other thing that he shared which I is just creating more more GPS right


um and and alternative funds and um to focus on there’s only 20 percent of the


VCS in the United States represent 90 of the largest companies that are actually


going on to IPO or or some large exit strategy so focusing in on where to make


impact I think will provide a roadmap for us I agree with you Brenda I mean if we


look at just the historical pattern we have got 20 years ago you wouldn’t necessarily see women running any VCS or


LPS um that just wasn’t such a welcoming space for women um 10 years ago it was getting better


and now we’re starting to see that shift and that change happening where there is a support in there are initiatives to


ensure that women are on the LPS and they’re helping to make those decisions of where to invest funds and really


looking to diversify the strategy women have to be sitting in those roles where


decisions are being made and so there’s a key Focus I think that all of us need


to ensure that we’re mentoring and we’re really bringing women up through the


ranks and ensuring that they’re sitting in those positions of decision making yeah and I will add on as a Latina


myself and it’s even that much harder uh the numbers are that much lower for women of color uh whether it’s board


seats whether it’s Investments whether it’s that people think that there’s not a pipeline it’s even that much harder at


60 harder for Latinas to actually get a bank loan than it is for non-hispanics to get a loan so there’s a lot that we


have to overcome I agree with everything that everyone has said so far I do also think the pipeline is really important


because a lot of investors that I’ve seen whether it’s VC or private Equity they’re looking for the pipeline they


need a pipeline so I find it to be something that is my responsibility as well to make sure that I’m helping to


bring others through that journey and helping to highlight and feature women like I’m doing with Latina disruptors to


make sure that these sources of capital that they have access to but also that


they see that there are a substantial amount of women out there generating substantial amount of business you know there’s there’s people that are


generating 10 to 50 million dollars worth of business that you wouldn’t necessarily know unless you happen to do the research and open up the doors


outside of your own network so that’s a big part of it is really being open to


learning and listening and meeting people from outside your own network as well


So within that topic what are some of the best Pathways to becoming a


successful VC


anyone you’re asking one person in particular sorry anyone can jump in


well I um um have became uh become an angel investor and getting into the VC and


creating a fund by starting to write my own texts right and um I know we’ll be talking about this


later in the discussion but um you know it’s good money investing in


women and the return search you know every single company I’ve invested in three of them are women that continue to


operate have not had an exit but they continue into the fifth and seventh year to operate and and deliver returns so I


think it’s a good business decision and just you know really being bold and perhaps to Sandra’s Point


providing opportunities is write that check for a woman


okay and uh malint here I’ll be specific so Melinda C who do you admire in the BC


industry and what valuable lessons have you learned from them you know there’s one um Christina Nunes


over at true beauty Ventures is um a particular um insightful and very attuned investor


the companies that she invests in with her partner Rich


um really they’re not passive investors and their goal set is to really mentor


and help and share knowledge and share wealth and I think so much of what it is that we need to shift and we need to


really support is that sharing of knowledge each one of us has in the VC


community in the you know the finance community and the small business


Community we all have lessons to learn and to share and I have a particular


passion for doing that and I admire for instance Christina who has that continuously and will open those doors


and make those introductions if a business needs if Founders need that yeah I think we all end up learning it’s


it’s a learnable trait right there’s a lot of things that you learn after your first second third Investments and you


see what things you can do but getting and helping as Board of advisors board


of directors on companies small to large Enterprise level obviously they have


their own boards and the board system but I also believe that even startup


Founders need to make sure that they have a board a board of advisors or a board of directors that are there with


them along the journey because someone that can help see around the corner is going to be really really valuable all


along the way and and just going back to what Melinda said in terms of the knowledge knowledge is incredibly


important because knowledge is powerful and knowledge is confidence as well and the more knowledge we can share the more


we can provide the more we can make sure that regardless of what the education level is that somebody knows the


difference between asset based financing debt financing what the options are they’re different phases of growth then


we’re helping them to to scale and that’s kind of a goal we need to help women scale their businesses and again


I’ll go back to speaking in terms of Latinos in general but out of all the Latino entrepreneurs which we are the


most entrepreneurial cohort in the country there’s only three percent of those that actually scale above a


million dollars and only 30 percent of those that are Latinas that scale above a million dollars we have a tremendous opportunity to help them understand how


to scale their businesses whether or not a business is scalable and how to make sure that they get the right investor


group with them it’s awesome um Melinda M


um I I when it comes to diversity I’m a True Believer of it like at all levels I


mean the more diverse support is the more diverse employees are the more


ideas flow uh the creativities there um even if somebody doesn’t agree with


that you know everybody has a different approach to say a problem right there’s always a different solution I think you


have diversity you come up with a combination of the best so why is it important to have more women in the VC


industry so um I love the topic of diversity I


also love food so I can pair diversity to an incredible paella dish a paella


dish is better when it had tons of different type of seafood and spices and


rice so it was just you know just shrimp and rice it wouldn’t be paella so for me


the diversity shows um the ability we we’ve looked at the research it shows that diverse teams can


pivot faster that they have different perspectives they they actually perform


better so in terms of diversity I think it’s important to have diversity at all


levels so that’s at the sea level on the board on the advisory middle management


just across the entire board because I think that that creates even greater


perspective and great greater ability to perform um so that’s on the diversity subject


but you were also asking me why is it important to have more women so research


also shows that we invest in what we know and we invest in what we look like


so if most people on Sand Hill Road went to Stanford or Harvard and our white


males in their 20s and 30s that’s what they historically invest in so it’s


absolutely critical that women have the ability to write checks because checks are what’s going


to make a difference in terms of being able to support


um early stage companies at you know which is higher risk at the pre-seed seed and then moving to series a and


Beyond so um I basically think you know we write checks in what we know so I think


everybody on this call writes checks so we need to multiply we need Moore’s Law


um on on this panel which is why we’re doing this conversation which we’re projecting it live to LinkedIn so I just


challenge everybody who’s watching this um to write checks for businesses that


are backed by women in diverse teams and ones that they feel comfortable with and that they can add value


I can just add to Melinda because from a consumer standpoint of which my career has been focused on we’re 75 percent of


the consumer decision makers and in Latino households it’s 85 percent so


when you talk about women and following up what Melinda was saying about why we


need more women not only investing but being within VC and inserted BC funds is


because we understand consumers because we are the predominant consumer so that’s another big part and that can go


a long way across a lot of different sectors and there’s data to show that that is


the right way we need to move right McKenzie published a report that said companies with a higher proportion of


gender diversity were 21 more likely to outperform on ebit and a higher


proportion were um of cultural and ethnic diversity were 33 more likely to outperform so the data


supports these the call to action so I um I second that motion Melinda


thank you that’s awesome uh moving to uh topic two building diverse investment


teams let’s explore the importance of diverse teams in the VC industry


uh Sandra uh well first thing is that in order to


have diverse teams and that when I talk about diversity I talk about everything age diversity diversity of experience


not only just background race sexual orientation Etc but we need to be able


to also open it up to where we give people the opportunity to write the checks that don’t have to be a hundred


thousand dollars and above or they don’t have to be a million dollars and such you know so to be able to truly have


more diversity and bring more people to the table we also need to make sure that we have vehicles in which they can


actually start to invest earlier and with less money and and earlier in their stages of of growth as in their careers


so that they can have opportunity to write bigger checks as they get further along


that would be one point that I would make Brenda you know um I I’m always the The


Optimist and um I think we’re currently living the


largest transfer of wealth in the United States of America and Boomers of which I am one


um the interesting thing is there are a lot of women that are coming into wealth because of generational inheritance and


they are going to be the movers and shakers they’re actually using different professional service


companies there are as Sandra alluded to and Melinda Melinda M there are more and


more opportunities and um funds that are educating women on what it means to


become an angel investor and writing those checks so I’m the forever Optimist and think this is going to take another


generation to move the needle but I’m watching it from the outside largest


transfer of wealth women are making decisions and we’re handling our money well with that being said what would the


strategies be for promoting diversity and inclusion


pipeline increasing pipeline not only in your VC your funds


your LPS but also casting your net wider in terms of universities startup


programs where there is a large again not only women but other ethnic groups


sexual orientation just casting the net access access is the number one blocker


yep and I don’t remember which one of the Melendez said this before but it was


Melinda M um when you grew up on the same street those are your friends when you work and you go to the same schools and you work


with the same type of people that’s what you know that’s who you know and so I see a lot of BC investors and private


Equity investors right now looking for additional pipeline because they understand and recognize that they are


only investing in what they know so we can’t make change without that but uh


yeah I think that Brenda’s right as it relates to women coming into more wealth


also having opportunities staying single longer um you know going to college more and


having higher paying jobs and so with that we need to just have access and provide that access


so I guess one question I would have Brenda is if uh uh women are coming into


more wealth are they moving into investment are they moving into VC or is there maybe an initiative that Gathering


that to create that movement has that been approached is it happening is it need to


happen well what I’m observing is all of the banks um uh are have a wealth management


division in there aggressively hiring women to discuss


with women wealth management um your JP Morgan’s your Wells Fargo I


mean every single Bank on Wall Street Main Street America have built out entire teams of wealth


advisors um so with that when we look like the women that are inheriting or handling


the wealth um I wanted to add one other concept to that of Pipeline and that is


one of rather than being a mentor of a woman is being a sponsor and that


message is a call out to those that are here on the LinkedIn live particularly those men in the virtual


room here becoming a sponsor is actually you’re sitting in those rooms where there’s largely men


bring a woman along talk about a woman be a active sponsor


not just mentoring on 101 it’s just being that that external sponsor for a


Woman by company or an investment in a woman like company or actually bringing


an LPS as woman there’s also that option of the social networks right we have a tendency so


much of the relationships that we have are just when we’re together right and


there’s relations there’s social networks that are occurring that are female Centric um and there’s others that are co-ed and


the focus should be on really to your point Brenda is bringing people together


whether it’s a continuous form of Education it’s sharing knowledge it’s sharing access it’s making introductions


both at this stage here now where many are able to invest and or raise Capital


but I also believe it needs to we need to be looking at that next Generation to


your point of you know it may take a generation for it to shift I think everything’s going to move in increments


but we also need to look at how do we bring women up through the


um through the education process and have them interested in stem where


there’s a predominant amount of Founders coming in from stem degrees how do we encourage that how do we ensure that we


are both looking at it from our perspective today here where we sit but also from that next generation and


ensuring that access continues and and ultimately grows and that actually is perfect lead way


into the next topic which is nurturing the next generation of female Founders and board members


what are some of the best ways to uplift the future generation of female Founders which uh Sandra you kind of hit on that


you said you know diversity at all ages uh and I’ve been asked many questions


what’s what’s too young to be on a board and I always say well you know kind of like age is irrelevant it’s


really experience and education but you can correct me or or what are the best ways to help out uh cover all ages and


how do we bring up the woman the young woman to lead into this and like Melinda


said and I think Brenda said that next generation well there are a tremendous amount of


options today that didn’t exist 20 years ago options in terms of communities organizations that are women-led that


provide workshops training they do it along with corporations as well so when corporations are able to actually take


on those whether it’s luminary Chief you’ve got a number of different organizations that are nationwide and if


companies bring those on then they give access to their employees to go through those workshops to learn to train to network Etc and it’s not necessarily


about the age as much as it is about what your skill set is so also being able to upskill reskill have those have


the different cross-functional knowledge so that you can actually speak to and understand what’s necessary and what’s


needed out there you know in a lot of boards today there’s a renewed focus on


things that weren’t that way five years ago cyber security being one of them you know I.T and cyber security there’s so


much more technology there’s so much more about privacy and security and we know what happen in terms of the hacking


around the world so that’s an entire area that speaking to what Melinda C had


said earlier in terms of you know getting women in stem and getting those involved earlier on they need to see


what the options are in their career I actually didn’t even think about being on a board until I had my second CEO


role I really haven’t thought about it and at that point in time that’s when I started to learn


about boards about what the process is going through the interviewing process but not only that what the expectations


are what the different Dynamics are and Boards what’s what’s different about being an independent director on a VC


backboard versus a private Equity board versus a public board and so being able to really share that through these


different instruments and these organizations I think is a really great way to help the Next Generation and


obviously as others have said here to really lend that hand backwards because it wasn’t that long ago that we were


there also asking the questions looking being curious and wanting to get there but without having somebody who could


help us along the way a mentorship


you know call out to an organization called 50 50 for women it’s hard to get


to move the needle on the number of women sitting on public companies uh boards but there are over 36 000


positions for private Equity private owned companies in the United States so your options of getting on a private


company are far outweigh those are getting on a public company and I think


Sandra you mentioned it earlier um becoming an advisor so now on The


Advisory Board of an early stage company is oftentimes not not you don’t


necessarily have to write a check but getting becoming an advisor on Advisory Board often leads to becoming a full


fiduciary board member um so don’t don’t think that you have to be narrow and be on a Russell 2000


companies board it’s starting in those thirty six thousand open private company


board positions across the United States yeah I always looked at that as getting


your foot in the door and if you are an advisor you build a relationship and if


that company ends up going public why would they not look at their current advisors as potential board members


before even looking for anybody else especially if the diversity is there which that’s what we get a lot companies


that come to us they’re like go getting ready to go public and they’re missing that diversity and you know that’s when


we get excited because they’re specifically asking for that um but like to your point Brenda if they


already had advisors they’ve had two three years of working relationship that’s just a great lead way into


being becoming on the board officials so um what are some helpful resources and


tools that drive the real impact and I know you already mentioned some but um anything else besides


what you already mentioned workshops you know I’d recommend you mentioned 50


51 on board there’s also him for her which is a great organization with that Jocelyn Mangan runs


um I sit on a board with her there’s nacd which runs programs as well as


organizations institutions like Stanford um and Princeton who who have


um who have training um as well as just connecting with


individuals that are in that space and having dialogue and having conversations


um you know Sandra mentioned this earlier this idea of you know I don’t know that we all grew up thinking that


we might sit on boards but as we worked our way through management and there


were opportunities that were presented to ourselves it’s really coming um it’s really that that education and


being aware of of how boards run and how to ensure that you’re staying at sort of


that higher level and making decisions and providing advice and I I’d also recommend sitting on non-profit boards


as well because there’s a lot to be learned there there’s a lot to give back obviously as well as connections to be


made right it’s it’s just those those individuals that are typically sitting on a public board or a private board are


also sitting on a non-profit as well I like to add it into sorry I love that


you added into him for her as well because it just shows that we need male allies all along the way I’m also just


again giving the the diverse angle of it in terms of the support groups the Latino corporate Directors Association


the lcda not only is it an organization for Latinos to join to be able to learn


and get go through exercises making sure they have their branding and all the materials and all the things right but


also for companies whether they’re private companies or public companies to be able to utilize the lcda as a as a as


a group and a resource to finding that pipeline and I would add um I give him my my


first board opportunity was the public company in Spain and


um in the Pharmaceuticals and at that time women corporate directors which is an organization largely in the United


States and did not have a presence in in Spain we opened that chapter there so


women corporate directors is a non-profit um you do need to be sitting on either a large non-profit or a large public


companies for a private company to be a member there’s a lot of training programs it is organized in large cities


um chapters um I would also add and continue to network your alma mater


um has um I’m a generous of Chicago there’s a lot of governance training you can go back and get and I’m certain


Harvard has a program Stanford that’s Melinda said so either


pockets of um courses that you can take over the summer to really understand you


know what is the operations of a fiduciary board and what are your responsibilities and


um and those that are more specific to the women’s world is women corporate directors 50 50 women on boards and a


recent one that I’ve joined is exceptional women on boards um and a lot of there’s active training


um and we work a lot with or get training from a lot of the companies like Deloitte ey do you like how the


governance Center um ey KPMG all of them have within their


alma mater programs for governance training


anybody else well I think it just gets a step up then


when you get onto board we lost you the committee entirely


different if you’re not a CFO but it’s all great learning opportunities but it’s also taking advantage sorry my


my screen froze um but it’s also taking advantage of the


learnings that you you have along the way and the other peers that you have in the


group when you actually do get on a public


company it’s good to really get ahead and end the language and understand what some of those expectations are because you’ll


inevitably inevitably be on a committee awesome


um we do have some time for some specific questions and I have one for each of you are you guys ready


yes Melinda Moore um so you’ve had a lot of success in


your career including notable exits from companies you invested in what do you


think sets successful entrepreneurs apart from those who aren’t as successful


um that’s a great question um so I’d say successful entrepreneurs I


mean it’s definitely a very rare individual so I’d say a few things


um as a successful entrepreneur you have to have a very strong vision and Noble


purpose so definitely understanding your why you’re doing this and that why


uniquely you should be doing this and that you’re able to do this I also let people know um very early stage that


successful entrepreneurs are successful fundraisers because you need to be able


to fundraise to be able to hire the right talent to be able to scale to be


able to Market to be able to do product development


you you’re now freezer education


um not being afraid to ask for money ask for more than you need


um and so those are things also you know it does it does take a bunch of grit


being an entrepreneur been an entrepreneur four times at least


um it is a roller coaster ride so you have to be able to be like okay one day you’re like okay I’m gonna sell for a


billion dollars and what am I going to do with this money and how do I handle the taxes and you’re like calling a tax


attorney and then it’s like a week later you’re like wait owe me out of escrow on that house because the market fell and


that literally did happen to me what I just said in the early 20s and I was like wait what is the happening and I


didn’t know how to short thing you know short the stock and all of these things so it truly is a roller coaster ride so


if you’re the type of person that likes stability then and you want to be on a Merry-Go-Round you probably don’t


yourself be an entrepreneur but if you have the grit and the tenacity and you


you know the why and you’re good at fundraising and you’re charismatic and can hire a good team I think that makes


a good entrepreneur and as an investor I always look I listen to what


entrepreneurs do not what they say Perfect Since you brought up funding I


wasn’t going to ask the second question but it leads right into it what are some of the common mistakes that Founders


make when they are seeking investment


Melinda I’ll tap on that really quickly so one is a lot of the investors and


Founders don’t do their research so if you’re um you know a consumer-based company


then why would you talk to a clean tech or to offend Tech investor


um so I often and myself I get pitched all the time and through Linkedin but


they’re not even taking the time to read what my investment thesis is that


literally is the number one mistake because it it just wastes I I value


people’s time and I think everybody should value people’s time and when you’re pitching people investors that


don’t even invest it’s just you’re just wasting a lot of time and clogging the


system so I’d say number one is really to do your homework on the investors make sure that there’s not competitive


make sure that they invest in the vertical at the stage make sure that you think that they’re going to add


strategic value and then be prepared to say why you want them as investor


those are my two cents awesome uh Melinda c


um you’ve worked at top tier companies including Disney Universal Music Group how did those experiences shape your


approach to not only finance and operations but


to where you’re at today how did that shape you I mean those are big companies those are those are very big companies


and I was fortunate to work in some of their um that they were investing in new


business opportunities so at Disney they were investing in a new record label um and so I was working in with their


music subsidiary so I had the opportunity to work with their team that


basically um decided where to invest funds and new


growth opportunities and so there was definitely it was almost like a mini um


mini VC if you will and really being able to to look at what is the Strategic


purpose of this where does it fit within the larger environment um and then how do we ensure that we’ve


got Synergy and we’re making use of the definite ability to cross refer business


or cross-create and so there was there’s a diligence that happens with from


larger corporations right it’s not it’s not moving um super quickly but there’s um it’s


kind of it for me it was definitely grounding in the sense of what are those action steps that we need to take how do


we go to market who do we hire right to be able to ensure that the team will be


successful and then how do we deploy capital and in both of these companies both at Universal and at Disney so much


of it was about really ensuring that there was this openness of communication between the leadership team and our


parent company really and our funder so it was really this almost investment


thesis that I operated Within I have to tell you I loved it


um very very smart individuals um and definitely was able to see both


the much more the larger company environment and faces along with the


founders that we brought in to kind of create these new business ventures and really bridging that gap which I find


considerably useful in doing exactly that in what I’m doing today with my


advisory firm that I manage working with emerging growth companies and talking to


and working with VCS and private Equity firms in that funding environment right it’s almost that similar sort of


perspective that’s awesome um Sandra as a board member for several


companies including Fabric and Big Lots what do you think are the most important


responsibilities of a board member and how do you approach that role


hmm um different phases of a company require different Dynamics within the courtroom


within the courtroom oh my God within the boardroom as well why am I thinking courtroom


anyway so you know I think that first of all Big Lots was my first public board


so for me I was really it was an it is an impressive group of board directors


who have been on many boards very very many very established boards who were CEO peers of very large companies and so


I really looked up to them and one of the first things that one of them had called me ahead of time we had just some


like you know Mentor um some buddies I guess in the buddy system that we have for the boards one


of them had called me ahead of time he was an operating CEO and a company and a retailer similar and he said you know I


just want you to know before you walk in the room you are no longer an operator so you need to put a different hat on


you need to put a different spin on how you’re looking at things because you will see problems and you’ll think


immediately oh I know let’s do this this is a solution you know because you’ve been used to doing that as an operator and coming up with initiatives and all


these other things because that’s not your role it’s the management role so it was actually something that I repeat because it was so important to me that I


heard that before I ever walked into the boardroom because I was already expecting it I was anticipating that I


needed to have a different set of eyes when I was hearing from the management team and learning how to ask the


questions so I did actually listen to the rest of the very experienced group of directors and and try to understand


like what were they trying to get to how were they getting to it how can I actually be more helpful how can I add


value what do I bring into the room that no one else has what’s the experience that I have that no one else can talk to


and so that’s really how you know for the first year I would say I definitely played it in that regard on the fabric


board it’s a VC backboard I’m the only independent director and I’m the only operator within retail so it’s a very


different position because I had the experience for the customer that they ultimately want to get from a SAS


software platform perspective and so I come in with the learnings and the understandings of the decision maker and


what’s good what’s not good from a go to market standpoint what’s going to resonate what’s not so it’s very different on that front but I think you


know you have to listen and learn and not walk in thinking you know everything’s certainly not the first time and being able to understand the


difference between being an operator and being on a board is really critical so in regards to that and I’m very hands


on myself how how did you handle that transition of not being able to like jump in and just fix the problem


put my hands under my seat as I speak with my hands as I start to


get no I had to control myself and make notes um but then figure out ultimately how do


I turn those into questions right because it may not be the right thing that the the company wants to take on


but how do I turn those into questions just to kind of make and bring it to light or make them aware of something


that perhaps is something that I’ve seen that may be concerning or something they should consider or think about but more


about how does it turn into a question and awesome and um thank you


uh Brenda now with you with over 25 years of experience and uh not only


Corporate America but also obviously in Europe what inspired you to leave the corporate world and start next ACT


advisors and can you talk about some of the challenges and opportunities you


faced in starting your own consulting firm wow that’s a loaded question but the


answer and and thank you for asking it because um uh my


you know transition from living in Europe for over 25 years back to the United States where I’m originally from


was um you know I left at 22k back of 50. uh why did I leave Corporate America


um I [Music] um was going to grad school when Enron uh


collapsed and I had a few Enron classmates I was at McKinsey at that time and I later on


um worked in the pharmaceutical industry and AstraZeneca and both


corporate experiences um the I saw very lack of corporate


governance matter of fact socks came out of that and I saw very egregious collusion unethical behavior that was


really around incentives we had patients that were not getting their medication because we were our sales reps were


sending it to countries that had a higher margin and I left the


pharmaceutical world when I was actually fixing that problem and I said I I was


head hunted into disruptive technology so I kind of fell into next ACT advisors and really


um believing that through disruptive technology not that you’re going to take down the big corporates but you’re going


to do it better and so my mission at next ACT advisors is really building the


knowledge from get go at a base with Founders on what is good corporate governance you don’t have to have a


fiduciary board of directors immediately you can have an Advisory board but do the basic employment agreements your


bylaws so really build up um and always have that arm’s length and that questioning attitude is is this


right for the Enterprise because ultimately you are owned by your shareholders


you’re not owned by the management so that’s what I’m all about next ACT advisors and the support for verticals


some of the challenges of course coming back to the US was I really had to develop my personal brand


um who is Brenda McCabe and what is my experience and it really um was working with my hired Consultants


to work with me on developing my my brand next ACT advisors which is my next


ACT not my last act it’s a bridge to bring great ideas out of the lab I work


in deep tech companies into commercialization with good corporate governance and


um that’s my challenge is opportunities sky’s the limit there’s a lot there are


a lot of opportunities to disrupt um those those four areas that I’m in um with with um new technology


thank you that’s awesome thank you for sharing um I have a group question as investors advisors and board members


within this group you guys have a unique insight into the into what makes a


successful startup what are some of the key factors you look for when evaluating startups and


how can you can Founders ensure that they are meeting those or that criteria


anybody can start I’ll start so that’s the last one um also an exact advisors I work with


startups um typically the first page uh they need to be a lot of the founders


are very um technical the science Engineers


they’re very product oriented and it’s important for me to know that they also


recognize the importance of the business side right and how I I get that learn


from whether I want to work with them or invest in them is how they spend their time where do you spend your time is


that on product development or are you recruiting your team so it’s all about the south side of the business but it’s


as equally important as is the product I’ll agree with you Brenda I also think


the commercial aspect of the business is really key like there has to be a passion for what it is that they’re


developing um or creating and then a clear understanding of what that go to market


strategy is and what how to monetize that because that becomes key we all


have many ideas I can’t think of the number of ideas I had even as I was raising kids and such that this would be


the best product but at the end of the day if my Tam was like the three people around me then that’s not a great


business idea right it’s it’s combining and that interrelation between passion and the project and the product and um


and how is it going to make money and ultimately bring a return to the investors


right Sandra Melinda m anything to add


I went ahead and I do look for Capital efficiency because that’s very important


in terms of that the um Founders are able to scale but that


the economics look good because I always say to Founders make sure that your margins and the numbers are right from


the beginning as you scale up because it takes the same amount of energy to launch a company that has 65 80 margins


as it does 20 so why do the 20 right oftentimes


um Founders will push back on me but that’s because they’re so passionate about what they’re doing but I’m trying to explain to them that the numbers


don’t actually make sense so please come back to me with something where there’s


Capital efficiency but you’re you’re working with numbers that are highly


attractive to be able to scale so to go from pre-seed to exit or to IPO and so


truly understanding um you know the the finance the finances


that are actually necessary to have that type of um scale and that type of


success you’d be you’d be amazed at the pushback that I get on what I just said


not much amazes me these days Sandra yes yes and yes to what every one of these


incredible women have said and because I look at a lot of consumer businesses a


lot of them being internet DDC specific there’s great ideas


and then there’s entrepreneurs who may or may not know anything about how to Market it online and not know anything


about SEO and all the different aspects of it and so I think a lot of what I look for is


to what Melinda C said which is what’s the addressable market like is there white space for it or are you doing


something that much better more impactful more compelling for the consumer um you know two is like how saturated is


that space online and and what’s your team what is a team that you have or what’s the knowledge that you have to be


able to actually really be able to be searchable online and then from a marketing standpoint because we’re just


we have so much product everywhere that we look and you know it needs to be something that’s compelling whether it’s


the packaging whether it’s the uniqueness of the product whether it’s in material whether it’s in


functionality you know various things like that so there’s when I look at the consumer piece of business because I’m


speaking to that specifically um that’s those are some of the layers that I kind of look at and try to


understand if they specifically as the entrepreneur don’t understand the back end of Technology do they have someone


on the team that does do they have you know not only the passion I have to be passionate about it as well which pets


and wag thank you that’s just like the top of my list because I have eight horses two dogs and


a cat oh my gosh at world so but because I know certain things I like to be passionate also in terms of what I


invest in awesome thank you for sharing that


um so with that board experience what do you think are the most important


responsibilities of a board and what are some effective strategies for fulfill I


can’t talk for fulfilling those responsibilities open to anybody


Sandra I think we’ve said I think we’ve said a lot of things as it relates the most important responsibilities that you


have and um you know Brenda had said earlier it’s the shareholder and ultimately either you’re there for them and not


necessarily yes you’re there as a partner to the management team on the public side but I think the most important responsibility is in my view


to be able to utilize your voice with that point of differentiation that might really help them think about something


or challenge them in a way that can help them grow and scale the business further or improve profitability or whatever the


different metric is that you’re trying to impact um you’re there for a reason so walking in with your own your own brand and your


own point of view and your own experience to be able to use that to the benefit of the organization is the


responsibility and so how you do that whether it’s the questions you ask or


the introductions that you make however you do that really has to always just be focused on the benefit of sharehold of


the company and how they’re going to get to the next phase and there’s such a key focus on not


running the business right as a board you’re not making the day-to-day decisions you’re really and and Sandra


you mentioned this earlier the you are helping to ensure that the strategy and


the go forward focus is present at all times and then helping to ensure that


there aren’t areas that any blind spots or any areas that haven’t been addressed


it’s really ensuring that your that additional voices


um to ensure success and and and it is shareholder value ultimately at the end of the day


and we do have that fighting Sherry Duty yeah on the fiduciary board


responsibilities are three largely it’s CEO hiring and firing


um actually you are responsible for the legal and Regulatory and financial filings as a board of directors and


thirdly oversight of the Strategic plan so it’s a Melinda C’s Point


um and that’s what your how you do that your voice is Sandra mentioned is


important and asking very good questions is this a wrap thanks so much


thank you I look forward to working with you guys more so be on the lookout


pleasure from uh for an email from me oh absolutely wonderful thank you guys


for all um joining I feel like I’ve met some incredible women here um and Martin thank you


yeah thank you very much and to everybody in the audience that’s a woman just be bold that’s my last people


that was awesome bye thank you thank you guys really


appreciate the time from that you guys took away to be on this panel


um thank you Melinda Moore Melinda chalaya Brenda Maccabee and Sandra Campos I’m Mark rovinsky co-founder and


CEO of board’s eye and I thank everyone for joining us today at leadership talk Sirius see you all at next event have a


great day thank you take care


thank you thank you [Music]


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