Reign FC Legend: Heather Redman

The Legends Campaign, a partnership between Seattle Reign FC and Avanade, honors women for their extraordinary contributions in the Pacific Northwest and beyond. Prior to our August 21 match against the Houston Dash, Seattle Reign FC will recognize Heather Redman as a Seattle Reign FC Legend.

Heather Redman is the co-founder and managing partner of Flying Fish Partners. Flying Fish is a venture capital firm that specializes in helping startups become established, successful companies. Redman’s career includes stints as Senior Vice President of Getty Images, PhotoDisc, and AtomShockwave.

In addition to her illustrious career in the business world, Redman is also very involved in the community. A loyal devotee of the Pacific Northwest, Redman serves on the Board of Regents at Washington State University and remains heavily involved in local politics. Before joining the workforce, Redman received a Bachelor’s Degree from Reed College and a J.D. from Stanford.

Q: How would you explain what a venture capitalist does to someone who’s never heard the term before?

A: Venture capital is high-risk, early-stage capital for companies that have the potential to get really big. You can’t take out a loan to grow a company that has no track record. If you want to get a loan from a bank, oftentimes you need to be in business for three years. The venture capital industry finds and funds those very young companies. But, they have to be big ideas, it can’t just be someone trying to open a restaurant.

Q: What led you to venture capitalism? Was it something you were always interested in?

A: I’ve been at a lot of companies and have seen what an important part of the economic ecosystem it is. I’ve always understood it. I’m a huge booster of the Pacific Northwest, and we’ve never had enough venture capital here to let the people with the desire and talent to start a high-growth company have the best chance of doing that.

A lot of what motivates my partners and I is wanting to enable other people so they can develop their dreams. We felt like there wasn’t enough here. Particularly as a woman, the stats are pretty awful about how few women-founded companies and minority-founded companies get venture capitalist financing. Women need to be where the money is and show up in those roles if women are going to have the status we need to move society forward.

Q: Having worked at a lot of places and held a lot of senior level positions, what have you noticed as a common thread between every workplace and role that you’ve had?

A: I feel like I’m still developing. What I’ve done recently is a quantum leap forward for me. What helped me along the way is being very ambitious and strategic. I tend to think about things as a battle plan or chess match. I think about how I’m doing good for this region and how I’m doing good for women. I don’t do anything without thinking about how it’s positioning me to do that work more effectively.

Q: What motivated you to join the Board of Regents at Washington State University, especially since you didn’t attend the school yourself?

A: It goes back to looking strategically at the region, and what is synergistic with the other things that I’m doing. I’m well-known as a person with a lot of connections and efficacy in the business community. I’m also known as somebody who is well connected with tech and entrepreneurship. WSU was looking for someone who had those characteristics and understood the bigger picture, and how the state operates. I spent a lot of time in the civic world as well, to understand what some of the political issues and budget constraints are. I think that’s why they approached me, as somebody who could add value.

From the perspective of venture capitalism, one of the things that we lack is enough higher education. WSU has done a great job at expanding their footprint and doing more research. I want to see that continue, and have some of that great work start some great companies.

Q: What is the most rewarding thing about your career?

A: The number one thing is seeing this region live up to its full potential and be one of the leaders of the world. Advancing the position of women and under-represented minorities is part of how we’ll succeed. We need to have all the talent here recognized. Every time we see that we’re having an impact, or encouraging other people and companies to grow rapidly, or getting all that talent and breaking down barriers, that’s super exciting to me.

Q: What advice would you give to women entering the workforce?

A: My advice is to think strategically every day, and recognize that career paths are very long. You have a long time to be great in your chosen field. Even if there is a moment where you have a setback, the road is long. Be strategic throughout, but recognize that just because you hit a bump or slowed down, that doesn’t mean you can’t do double time later.