Announcing Amplifyher Ventures, and our bet on on women leaders
In February of 2004, a simple article in the Harvard Crimson completely changed my life.
I was reading the student paper as an advertising executive at Y2M, specializing in marketing to the next generation of consumers, millennials. We had had a surplus of brands ready to pay a premium to target this otherwise elusive generation, and we had completely sold out of inventory for them to buy. Or so we thought.
In reading the story about a quickly growing company called, “The Facebook,” I picked up the phone to try and find a connection. Shortly thereafter, Eduardo, Mark and I were sitting down with a print-out of their traffic data. I was in awe of their early traction, growth trajectory, and gold mine of revenue opportunities.
After forming an advertising partnership between The Facebook and Y2M, my initial thoughts were validated and I joined the team full-time as the 7th employee and first VP of Sales. I was ecstatic to be on the ground floor of a fast-growing business.
Soon after I joined, my excitement was compounded when my husband and I were expecting our first child.
It wasn’t always (or ever) easy running around pregnant — and then with a newborn at home — all while building a sales team for what would ultimately become a $445 Billion business, but I believed it was possible. And it was certainly rewarding.
The team was supportive and flexible, deferring to me on how much time I should take for maternity leave. But the bottom line was, I was the first person to be pregnant at Facebook. Regardless of how much time was appropriate to take, I was in a critical role at the fastest growing company in the world; I felt I couldn’t miss a beat.
So my solution? Three days. I decided to take three days for my maternity leave. Of course this wasn’t sustainable. I couldn’t help but think, what if there were more women who could help iron out this playbook?
The career path for women is not always linear. Sometimes, it’s not clear how exactly you can start a family, be entirely present, and nail your career goals. Despite my best effort to continue to do all this, I didn’t succeed and eventually left Facebook. This was disappointing, but it created space for me to contemplate how I could use my experience and good fortune to make a difference for other women.
My thinking was that if more women at the top COULD demonstrate this balance, then rising stars could obtain mentorship and see a clear pathway for themselves as well. I knew I could help by investing in female founders — seeding women in the C-suite. I began doing this as an angel investor ~10 years ago, then with two partners under the brand Victress Capital.
Now, I am excited to solidify these efforts through a dedicated, evergreen fund, Amplifyher Ventures.
Amplifyher Ventures is an early-stage venture capital firm dedicated to investing in remarkable women building businesses that scale.
We provide the resources and capital that women need to build their startups into significant businesses, and ultimately create their own mature C-Suite.
At Amplifyher, we are marketers by trade. When we look at investment opportunities, we do so through a functional lens, in favor of a vertical one. This enables us to roll up our sleeves and leverage our expertise for our founders.
On that note, I’m thrilled to bring on Meghan Cross as my Partner to help fulfill this mission. When it comes to building new-age investment firms, Meghan’s done it already. As the former Managing Partner at Red Bear Angels, Meghan built the Cornell alumni angel network, leading 20+ investments in companies such as Lyft, on behalf of hundreds of individual LPs. Further, her early career in public relations and startup operations is something her founders continue to value.
We’ve all heard the stats:
In 2017, 2% of VC dollars went to female founders and 12% went to gender-mixed teams.
Yet, diverse founding teams — or at least founding teams with at least one woman — return 63% greater results to their investors.
It doesn’t take an economist to see the value investment opportunity here. If a certain subset of founders is being overlooked in the fundraising process, yet that subset delivers strong results, then it’s not underfunded, it’s simply untapped.
There’s more energy in the conversation around female empowerment than ever before, yet the gender funding gap is real, and it’s only exacerbated at the top.
Less than 5% of C-Suite leaders are women, and women CEOs on the 2018 Fortune 500 list dropped by 25%.