Global Investor Conference Emphasizes Why the Future of Investment is Female
Karim Nurani contributes his summary on the recently concluded Global Investor Conference in this exclusive guest article for Global FinTech Series:
On Tuesday, June 2nd, 2020, the Global Investor Conference (GIC) returned with an assortment of excellent speakers to discuss investing during the age of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Previously, speakers such as investment legend Tim Draper shared their wisdom of how they’re responding to the current state of the world, but this time, it will focus on female-founded and female-led companies thriving amid COVID-19. Jesse Draper (Halogen Ventures) – and daughter of Tim Draper – was the distinguished fireside speaker who discussed how women-owned businesses are responding to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Prior to her career as an investor, Jesse Draper was an actress in Hollywood. At the time when the recession of 2008 began, she realized there weren’t any talk shows that were specifically around technology, so she decided to take the lead and create that exact show. The show was so popular and widely loved that it was even nominated for an Emmy Award. As time went on, Jesse started to notice how women in the industry weren’t being represented, so she made it a policy to have at least 50 percent of her guests be women.
After the success of her show, she wanted to help women start their businesses, so she joined the VC world with her father. As an investor and a mentor, Jesse Draper has a tough-love approach. “You need to quickly get used to being told ‘no’”, she explained during her fireside conversation with Lilly D’Angelo, Ph.D., MBA, and president of Global Food and Beverage Technology Associates, LLC. Jesse is a firm believer that there’s no such thing as failure because every “no” can be turned into a learning experience.
When investing in female entrepreneurs and startups, she is looking for women with persistence. “Be ready to do 100 pitches in a day,” she explained. She followed by emphasizing the importance of analyzing each rejection and even asking for feedback from investors to see where there’s room for improvement. She believes her key to success is that she’s constantly learning and growing, and this is an attribute that she believes can help investors as well as entrepreneurs.
As Jesse continued to discuss the importance of women investors and entrepreneurs, she made clear that she doesn’t believe in having a “man-hating club,” she explained. “We have to work together with men.” She attributes her success to the opportunities of working with both incredible men and women and that fostering a community for both parties to work collaboratively is imperative. Her advice to women: if you see a man supporting you at a female-focused event, welcome him. That is the beginning of an impactful message that sets the precedent of what we’re trying to do here. Her advice to men: ensure you have women on the board as well as in management roles.
“Investing in women is not a charity,” she said. “It’s an opportunity.”
The fireside chat was followed by a panel discussion titled “Why Women Leaders Are Outperforming During the Crisis. Panelists included Alexandra Choli (Founding Partner at Metavallon VC), Mary Jo Potter (Founder at Healthcare Angels), Ita Ekpoudom (Partner at GingerBread Capital), and Victoria Pettibone (Managing Director at Astia Angels).
The panel began by discussing how gender diversity improves returns. Victoria cited an MIT study in which they found that including women in a group discussion improved the overall intelligence of the group while also promoting more diverse ideas. Alexandra agreed that one of the biggest benefits is having more of a variety of ideas, but she also touched on the fact that women assess risks in a different way to see new angles for different decisions.
Ita then explained how much she loved that she was brought onto Gingerbread Capital as a partner. She believes in intersectionality and explained how the founder of Gingerbread Capital is an older caucasian woman who wanted to bring someone with a completely different perspective. As a young African American woman, Ita was the perfect fit, and she promotes the idea of intersectionality and diversity in all of the businesses they work with.
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During the lightning round, the women were asked about solutions investors and entrepreneurs could begin working on to improve the business as well as diversity. Victoria and Alexandra believe that one of the keys to success in the world of finance for women is to start by building strong networks. When women stay connected and assist one another, great things can happen. The panel then discussed some additional ways women can succeed in a sometimes male-dominated industry.
In addition to the fireside chat and panel, GIC’s agenda included opportunities for 16 companies to pitch their business to a global syndicate of accredited investors who were able to provide funding in real-time via the Linqto mobile app. Of the 16 companies presenting, the majority were female. Three female-founders share their take on women’s evolving role in the investment industry.
“While there seems to be a great deal of interest from the investment industry in funding female-led companies, the numbers of investments have not significantly grown,” said Carrie Martz, CEO, and Founder of Clean Light Laboratories. Carrie believes that women are great multitaskers, and they’re also great and overcoming different hurdles. “We don’t start companies with a million in sales,” she continued. “We need our male counterparts to help take the lead and get others to join us and we need female investors to step up and get involved with their funds and their strategic support.”
Kathrin Deutschle, the CEO of emBorrow, discussed the innovative ways her and her team has been finding opportunities during the COVID-19 pandemic. “Our business has been able to thrive during the pandemic by providing emotional support through technology, which women and couples need now more than ever when going through fertility treatments,” said Kathrin. “One example of how we have done this is by participating in and supporting virtual fertility summits.”
We were also able to speak with Caitlin Cameron, CEO of OtoNexus, and she feels that it was a great honor to represent women entrepreneurs at the Women-Owned Business Keirestu Connect Event. “During a time like this, I believe thoughtful business leadership is required,” she explained. “The world has changed; we must change with it to be successful.” With 30 years of cross-industry expertise in a wide range of tech fields, Caitlin’s goal is to run organizations known for employee satisfaction as well as innovation.
Although the world has made a lot of progress when it comes to female involvement in the world of investment, innovation, and entrepreneurship, there’s still room to grow. These investors as well as the CEOs of the presenting companies bring a diverse look at where we’re heading as well as the possibilities of where we can go in the future.
The third Global Investor Conference will be held virtually on July 7 and 8, 2020, and will explore the growing landscape of digit assets following Ripple’s latest IPO announcement. Greg Kidd, first Chief Risk Officer at Ripple, JP Thieriot, CEO of Uphold, Nisa Amoils, Managing Partner at Grasshopper and Forbes Contributor, and Michel Lee, Executive President at Hashkey, are among the experts in the digital asset space who will be presenting.