The Ad-Ventures of Elizabeth Galbut (w/Chinese translation)
Originally published on GenHERation. Translated by Helen Xu and edited by Pocket Sun.
Elizabeth Galbut is the co-founder of SoGal Ventures, the first female-led millennial venture capital firm.
Elizabeth Galbut 是第一家年轻女性主导的风投机构SoGal Ventures的联合创始人。
Ricky: Tell us about yourself.
Elizabeth: I’ve been in the healthcare space my entire life and also came from an entrepreneurial background. I always enjoyed identifying problems and coming up with creative solutions. In Georgetown, I accidentally majored economics. And as a sophomore, I interviewed with Deloitte, which ended up being my only interview in college, and was accepted into their leadership program. There I worked as a strategy and operations consultant, specifically working with healthcare clients. We worked on merger and acquisition cases, which is when I started to get interested in working with startups in the healthcare space. I noticed that there was this mass emergence of technology in this industry. After working at Deloitte for three years, I got an MBA and MA from Johns Hopkins University and Maryland Institute College of Art.
R: Why did you decide to pursue an MBA and MA?
E: This program was the perfect combination for me because it encompassed Hopkins’ expertise in healthcare while allowing me to express my artistic side, which I had felt was suppressed in consulting. I was particularly intrigued by the idea of design thinking and having empathy for human needs.
E: 这个项目对我而言是一个完美的结合，因为它既注重约翰霍普金斯大学擅长的医疗专业知识，又让我在做咨询期间被压抑的创造性思维得到表达。同时，“设计思考”(design thinking)和以人为本的设计理念尤其吸引了我。
R: How did you gain experience in venture capital before starting SoGal Ventures?
E: At Hopkins, I was the Managing Director of their Innovation Factory where I lead 52 student leaders. I noticed that there was a huge lack of early stage capital for student entrepreneurs. This led me to create A-Level Capital with two other students and we have made seven investments thus far. From there, I was encouraged by Dave McClure, founder of 500 Startups and Hopkins alum, to apply to Stanford’s + 500 Startups VC Unlocked program. I was accepted into the program, and Dave is now an investor and advisor for A-Level Capital.
At this program, I met Pocket Sun, the co-founder of SoGal Ventures, and we were advised to spend 1–2 years raising our own fund in order to create a culture we would enjoy rather than working for other venture capital firms.
R: 在创办SoGal Ventures之前，你是如何获得风投经验的呢？
E: 在霍普金斯的时候，我作为总监在创新工场带领着52名学生领袖组成的团队。我注意到对学生创业者而言，在早期有着巨大的资金空缺。这件事激发我和另外两名学生一起创办了A-level风投，到目前我们已经投资了七家公司。也是那个时候，500 Startups的创始人，也是霍普金斯校友的Dave McClure鼓励我申请斯坦福和500 Startups联合举办的VC Unlocked项目。我顺利进入了这个项目，并且Dave现在也成为了A-level的投资人和顾问。在这个项目中，我遇到了SoGal Ventures的另一名联合创始人Pocket Sun。项目中，我们得到的建议是应该用一两年创办自己的基金，去营造一种我们享受的具有多样性的工作环境与文化，而不是去给别的风投公司打工。
R: What led you to start SoGal Ventures?
E: Venture capital firms tend to invest only in companies within a few driving hours distance from their home office. However, Pocket and I both saw that there were a lot of interesting macro trends occurring in the startup space now, and it was much easier to invest on a global scale. Additionally, we truly believe that millennials crave a human connection, and technology has radically changed how they consume.
There is this huge increase in connectivity; however, millennials still feel alone and find it difficult to find a purpose. We wanted to invest in companies on a global scale that are positive forces in the technology industry while mostly being founded by millennials.
R: 那是什么引领你创办了SoGal Ventures呢？
E：很多风投公司都只投资那些在他们办公室几小时车程之内的公司。但是，Pocket和我都关注到在创业领域上有趣的宏观趋势，而且现在全球投资变得更加容易。与此同时，我们相信千禧一代 (注: 80和90后)更渴求人与人之间建立联系，并且科技的进步也极大地改变了他们的消费习惯。但是尽管互相的联系增强了，这一代人还是觉得孤独，难以找到人生的目标。我们想要在全球范围内投资新一代创业者发起的，能积极推进科技变革的公司。
R: Give us a rundown of your daily routine.
E: Every day is radically different, but my days tend to consist of meetings. I am constantly reaching out to people for networking purposes and raising money. These meetings are usually with entrepreneurs and are about building relationships and understanding their companies. But I also keep in touch with startups that we have funded in order to help them further their companies.
R: What is the biggest challenge you run into at work?
E: Honestly, my biggest challenge is making time for myself. Because I travel a lot, I can easily be working 11 at night and not realize the time. Starting a business is consuming, but I have to constantly remind myself to take a step back and relax a bit.
E: 说实话我觉得最难的是给自己留出时间。因为总是要四处奔波，我经常就不知不觉工作到晚上11点 。成立自己的公司是会让人精疲力尽，但我不断提醒我自己有时要养精蓄锐，休息一下。
R: You mentioned in your article that “successful investors train themselves to understand and value deviations from the norm.” Can you elaborate on what it means to deviate from the norm?
E: People try and place previous beliefs and value propositions when evaluating new companies. For example, when you see a nerdy guy you usually assume that he is a good developer and can easily create a successful, tech company. However, when you see a reserved Indian girl who is a first generation college student, it is much harder to see her succeed in the same context. Deviating from the norm means putting biases aside and really taking the time to evaluate a business logically. Additionally, deviating from the norm means to not apply the same business model to a new company. There is this trend of placing businesses into the “Uber of this” or “Airbnb of that” categories. This pattern recognition is harmful for an investor. In order to evaluate a correct investment, you have to try to get rid of that habit.
E: 人们常常在评估创业公司时带入既有信仰和价值主张。比如，当你看见一个技术宅，你就觉得他会是一个好的程序猿，能轻松愉快的创办一个成功的科技公司。但是，当你看见一个文静的印度姑娘，还可能是她家里第一代大学生，你很难会觉得她能在硅谷获得成功。“不同寻常” 意味着把偏见抛开，然后真正理性地花时间去评估一个公司。它也意味着不把相同的商业模式套用在新的公司上。比如，2015年出现了非常多的公司被视为“xxx行业的Uber”或“xxx行业的Airbnb”。这种认知模式 (pattern recognition)对一名投资者没有好处。要想客观准确的评估一项投资，你必须试着摆脱这种自动分类的习惯。
R: Have you noticed any differences between female and male founders?
E: Females tend to be more realistic in their projections. They don’t want to overpromise and underdeliver. Whereas, males tend to have more ambitious forecasts that aren’t necessarily realistic. Furthermore, females are great at being collaborative, building a solid team and being able to get resources to build their businesses for cheap. They are better at convincing someone of the value of what they are building and have a sound understanding of how to get someone excited about their businesses. The biggest difference I’ve seen is that females are far more focused on building relationships whereas males lean towards treating their relationships like transactions.
R: Why should there be more women in VC?
E: It is a smart business practice to have a gender diverse investing team. Women power the majority of consumption decisions; however, 70% of VCs have never hired a woman in an investing position. All male teams tend to not understand businesses that deal with family, fashion, beauty, and technology generally aimed at the female population. When that voice is missing in an investing team, there is a higher chance of missing great deals and opportunities.
E: 拥有一个性别平衡的投资团队对商业有利，就这么简单 。女性主导着绝大多数的消费决定，但是高达70%的风投公司从来没有雇用过任何女性来做投资决策。全是男性的团队往往不理解那些与家庭，时尚，美容相关的，或者针对女性的科技产品的公司。如果一个投资团队缺乏女性角度的洞见，它很可能会错失或者错误判断大量的公司和机会。
R: Why do you think there is that gender gap?
E: Let me share a personal story. Back in high school, I was a mathlete and I got an 800 on the math portion of the SAT. Math is an integral part of engineering, but no one ever thought to encourage me to pursue engineering. We didn’t even have conversations about why that was the matter. However, I truly believe that there has been positive change over long progressions of time, and it is a great sign that these interesting conversations about the gender gap in several industries is occurring now.
R: Do you have any advice for girls who are considering pursuing a career in venture capital?
E: Read up on the industry as much as you can, including blogs and podcasts. You should even try to create a mock portfolio of interesting companies you encounter and list why you would or wouldn’t invest in them. You can learn from this, and it also conveys your interest in interviews.
R: What is the most interesting company you have encountered?
E: GiveCampus is a company that we invested in, and it runs online campaigns for colleges that aim to gamify and socialize alumni donations.
E: GiveCampus 是一个我们投资的公司。它在线上把为高等学府捐款这件事变得游戏化和社交化，鼓励更多人参与，已经为很多大学在短短时间内就融到上百万美金。
R: Can you share a fun fact about yourself?
E：Back in Georgetown, I was on the cheerleading team, and we got to perform at the Verizon Center where the basketball team would play. Presidents were known to show up at these games. So, there was one game when I was performing and noticed Bill Clinton was standing a couple of feet from us. I was awestruck and proceeded to mess up the routine. Also, when I was studying abroad at the London School of Economics, I was in a cheerleading stunt with Richard Branson for a promotional campaign where we (the cheerleaders) dressed up as nurses and he was dressed up as a lion.
还有在伦敦政经上学的时候，我印象很深刻的是我们拉拉队员为一次宣传活动打扮成小护士，而Richard Branson (英国亿万富翁，维京Virgin集团创始人，包括维京唱片，维京航空，维京酒店等等) 打扮成了一只狮子！
R: Favorite read?
E: Bloomberg Businessweek.
R: How do you take your coffee?
E: I don’t drink coffee. I love peppermint tea with a lot of brown sugar. I also happen to be a huge carb monster.