Seeing and Being: PYL In-Flight: Sept 12, 2021
Welcome Back My Role Modeling Passengers:
Over the summer I mentioned a new venture I was contemplating (you can read about the tease here). On Friday I had my first externally facing meeting as part of that new venture and it went great. We are still working out the details, but it looks like we are going to be good to go sometime over the next month which is pretty exciting and terrifying at the same time.
We have some big, bold, audacious plans that are going to require creativity, persistence, ingenuity, and a whole lot of money.
Fortunately, I’m surrounded by some amazing people, especially women, who have already been there, done that.
I am in this crazy fortunate spot that as the tables are turning, I am learning from so many that have previously learned from me. It’s this beautiful, serendipitous situation that I hadn’t even thought about until the pieces started coming together. Honestly, I hadn’t even thought about how my 23 years of doing what I do professionally would be beneficial but here we are.
Every Tuesday at 5 PM, I talk to my friend Candice who is the CEO/Co-Founder of a company called Caregiven. We first met through a local accelerator a few years ago and have since become besties. Without realizing it, as we’ve had our weekly calls, I’ve accidentally learned from her about how to thoughtfully lead and grow a company.
As she’s talked about the tech piece and the role her co-founder Rebecca has played, I’ve learned about how to manage product development and releases.
How could I have known that as Candice talked about hiring people and being intentional about culture and DEI, that her experiences (and journey) would provide me with educational and necessary tidbits for building a startup?
Most of my portfolio companies are run by women including SendaRide with CEO/Co-Founder Laura Fleet. Through my role on the board and my chats with Laura over the last few years, I’ve learned about managing outsourced technology, building a sales force, and having a game plan for expansion.
I’ve also learned about the importance of being opportunistic in growing a business, and innovating to save a business during unexpected rough times, like a pandemic. I’ve also learned about board mechanics. (Listen to my interview with Laura on Piloting Your Life the podcast from 2018).
I first invested in TomboyX back in the spring of 2016. It was my fourth angel investment. Through my interactions with Fran Dunaway, former CEO/Co-Founder and now President/Co-Founder, I learned about the importance of branding and the how women aren’t given the same opportunity to grow into the CEO role as the startup evolves.(to which I call bullshit).
I’ve also learned about the importance of strategic partnerships, creating inclusive products, and seeing gaps in the market as opportunities and strategically going after them. (Listen to my interview with Fran on Piloting Your Life the podcast also from 2018).
Erin Carpenter, CEO/Founder of Nude Barre (I am a very small investor in her company), has shown, and continues to show me me, that you can take something you are passionate about because of a lived experience, and turn it into a fast-growing and thoughtful business serving, at first, a narrow, niche market, but then expanding into a broader market. I see this daily on Instagram and in her regular investor updates.
From Barbara Tien Co-Founder of Ponga, I’ve learned about innovative business structures, building a tech company, and, indirectly, the importance of equal value exchange between investors and founders.
Ritu Narayan, Founder/CEO of Zum, inspires me to think big and be bold. Lately there’s been some big news about Zum which I first invested in back in January 2016 (my 3rd angel investment). She and her team have taken a small startup focused on rides and care for kids 5 and up to a full-blown transportation company (and energy company if you count the plans for solar on top of school buses). Holy cow!
I’ve learned so much from all of the women founders/CEOs I’ve had the pleasure of working with as an angel investor over the last six years, not knowing that one day I too would be stepping into the CEO role.
I am so grateful to this long and growing list of women who have done what I am about to do, or are currently doing it.
To all of you, including the ones I have not called out by name, I am inspired by you. I am learning from you.
I am thankful to have you as role models and inadvertent mentors in my venture into startup land as the CEO of a SaaS company focused on an industry that is desperate for technology solutions to optimize business performance and improve the bottom line.
Ladies, I never wanted to beat you, and I am happy to join you!
With much love and gratitude,
P.S. Take the controls and be the pilot in your own life. It’s a beautiful day to fly, and you are cleared for takeoff.
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