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.

Transcript

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foreign [Music]

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

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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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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understanding of product Market fit consumer Insight operations and

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

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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

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

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

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

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

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

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public doing a mini IPO leveraging Equity crowdfunding have deployed about

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

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

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

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

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

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

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customer support and public accounting at renowned companies such as Target

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Universal Music Group Disney Deloitte and ey Melinda

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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particular passion of mine and we support companies with their

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Transformations turnarounds and international expansion Sandra

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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

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

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

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

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

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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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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technology firm she currently owns and operates next ACT advisors welcome

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

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

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Company and AstraZeneca I um found my mission I discovered

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

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subsequently began to sit on corporate boards public park pharmaceutical

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company private Equity portfolio portfolio companies my career has been

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

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

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digital Health med tech and Enterprise SAS where I have served

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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this morning institutional investors published an article in which they have

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

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

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

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

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

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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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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

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

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

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

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

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

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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

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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

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

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

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

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successful VC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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providing opportunities is write that check for a woman

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

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

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

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the companies that she invests in with her partner Rich

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

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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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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

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

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group with them it’s awesome um Melinda M

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

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

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

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

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

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industry so um I love the topic of diversity I

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

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

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

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

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pivot faster that they have different perspectives they they actually perform

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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to make a difference in terms of being able to support

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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uh Sandra uh well first thing is that in order to

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

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

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

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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

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

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

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

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

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Optimist and um I think we’re currently living the

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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strategies be for promoting diversity and inclusion

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pipeline increasing pipeline not only in your VC your funds

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

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

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

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

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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

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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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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division in there aggressively hiring women to discuss

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

27:34

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

27:42

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

27:49

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

27:56

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

28:02

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

28:10

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

28:16

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

28:23

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

28:30

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

28:37

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

28:42

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

28:49

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

28:55

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

29:03

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

29:10

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

29:19

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

29:25

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

29:30

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

29:36

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

29:42

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

29:47

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

29:53

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

30:00

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

30:05

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

30:11

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

30:16

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

30:24

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

30:30

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

30:35

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

30:40

help us along the way a mentorship

30:47

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

30:54

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

31:01

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

31:08

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

31:13

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

31:18

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

31:24

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

31:31

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

31:39

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

31:45

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

31:50

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

31:56

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

32:03

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

32:09

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

32:15

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

32:22

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

32:29

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

32:35

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

32:42

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

32:49

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

32:56

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

33:01

organizations institutions like Stanford um and Princeton who who have

33:08

um who have training um as well as just connecting with

33:13

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

33:19

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

33:24

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

33:29

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

33:36

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

33:42

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

33:49

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

33:57

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

34:03

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

34:10

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

34:15

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

34:21

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

34:26

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

34:32

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

34:40

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

34:47

first board opportunity was the public company in Spain and

34:52

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

34:57

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

35:02

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

35:09

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

35:16

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

35:24

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

35:30

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

35:35

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

35:42

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

35:48

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

35:54

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

36:02

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

36:09

governance Center um ey KPMG all of them have within their

36:16

alma mater programs for governance training

36:22

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

36:27

when you get onto board we lost you the committee entirely

36:35

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

36:42

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

36:47

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

36:54

group when you actually do get on a public

37:01

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

37:08

inevitably inevitably be on a committee awesome

37:13

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

37:20

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

37:26

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

37:31

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

37:39

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

37:44

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

37:49

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

37:55

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

38:01

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

38:08

successful entrepreneurs are successful fundraisers because you need to be able

38:14

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

38:19

able to Market to be able to do product development

38:26

you you’re now freezer education

38:33

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

38:39

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

38:45

being an entrepreneur been an entrepreneur four times at least

38:51

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

38:56

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

39:02

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

39:09

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

39:16

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

39:24

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

39:32

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

39:37

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

39:45

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

39:52

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

39:59

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

40:05

make when they are seeking investment

40:10

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

40:16

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

40:22

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

40:28

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

40:34

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

40:41

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

40:46

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

40:52

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

40:58

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

41:04

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

41:09

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

41:15

those are my two cents awesome uh Melinda c

41:20

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

41:27

approach to not only finance and operations but

41:32

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

41:39

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

41:45

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

41:51

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

41:57

basically um decided where to invest funds and new

42:02

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

42:08

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

42:14

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

42:20

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

42:26

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

42:33

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

42:41

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

42:48

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

42:54

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

43:02

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

43:09

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

43:15

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

43:21

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

43:27

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

43:33

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

43:39

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

43:45

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

43:52

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

43:58

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

44:05

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

44:10

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

44:15

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

44:22

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

44:30

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

44:35

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

44:42

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

44:49

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

44:55

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

45:03

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

45:08

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

45:14

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

45:20

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

45:27

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

45:35

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

45:40

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

45:47

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

45:53

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

45:58

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

46:04

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

46:11

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

46:17

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

46:22

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

46:29

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

46:36

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

46:43

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

46:50

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

46:57

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

47:03

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

47:10

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

47:15

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

47:21

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

47:27

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

47:34

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

47:40

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

47:47

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

47:52

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

47:58

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

48:03

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

48:09

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

48:15

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

48:20

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

48:28

um worked in the pharmaceutical industry and AstraZeneca and both

48:33

corporate experiences um the I saw very lack of corporate

48:39

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

48:47

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

48:53

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

48:59

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

49:05

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

49:11

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

49:17

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

49:22

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

49:29

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

49:36

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

49:43

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

49:48

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

49:55

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

50:00

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

50:06

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

50:12

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

50:19

in deep tech companies into commercialization with good corporate governance and

50:26

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

50:31

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

50:39

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

50:47

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

50:52

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

50:59

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

51:06

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

51:13

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

51:19

are very um technical the science Engineers

51:25

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

51:32

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

51:40

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

51:46

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

51:51

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

51:57

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

52:02

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

52:08

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

52:14

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

52:19

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

52:26

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

52:34

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

52:40

right Sandra Melinda m anything to add

52:46

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

52:52

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

52:58

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

53:06

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

53:14

as it does 20 so why do the 20 right oftentimes

53:20

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

53:27

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

53:33

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

53:39

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

53:46

truly understanding um you know the the finance the finances

53:52

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

53:58

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

54:05

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

54:11

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

54:17

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

54:25

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

54:30

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

54:36

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

54:42

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

54:49

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

54:54

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

55:00

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

55:06

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

55:11

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

55:17

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

55:23

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

55:28

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

55:34

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

55:40

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

55:46

invest in awesome thank you for sharing that

55:52

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

55:58

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

56:05

can’t talk for fulfilling those responsibilities open to anybody

56:14

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

56:21

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

56:29

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

56:37

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

56:42

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

56:48

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

56:56

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

57:02

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

57:08

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

57:14

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

57:20

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

57:26

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

57:31

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

57:38

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

57:44

it’s really ensuring that your that additional voices

57:50

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

57:55

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

58:02

responsibilities are three largely it’s CEO hiring and firing

58:07

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

58:15

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

58:21

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

58:27

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

58:34

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

58:40

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

58:46

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

58:52

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

59:02

that was awesome bye thank you thank you guys really

59:07

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

59:12

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

59:19

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

59:27

great day thank you take care

59:33

thank you thank you [Music]

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In today’s dynamic business landscape, executive board members don’t operate in isolation. Building a robust executive board network is no longer optional, but essential for success. This network serves as a powerful gateway to valuable insights, strategic partnerships, and collaborative opportunities, ultimately propelling your board and organization to new heights.

The Art of Synergy: Mastering Strategic Board Member Matching

In the ever-evolving business landscape, strategic board member matching is not a game of chance, but a symphonic composition. By meticulously selecting individuals who harmonize their skills and experiences, boards can unlock unparalleled creativity, strategic direction, and long-term success. This guide equips you with:

Expanding the Horizon: Mastering Diverse Board Member Sourcing

In a world brimming with diversity, homogeneous boardrooms are a thing of the past. Organizations that embrace diverse board member sourcing unlock a richer tapestry of talent, perspectives, and experiences, leading to increased innovation, effectiveness, and resilience. This guide equips you with actionable strategies to:

Expand your sourcing lens and tap into untapped talent pools.
Cultivate an inclusive environment that welcomes diverse perspectives.
Leverage resources & expertise to refine your sourcing strategies.
Build strong relationships and engage with potential candidates authentically.

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