Q: Why did you join the board?
A: The groundswell of startup activity in LA’s Silicon Beach demonstrated the potential for Los Angeles to be one of the leading springboards for new companies. However, the vast majority of funding was going to companies led by men. Together with other like-minded women professionals I co-founded WFN. We saw a need to educate, provide visibility, mentor, make connections for and invest in early stage women-led startups.
Q: What have you learned?
A: Every year the quality of our applicants improves. More women than ever before are forming companies with a goal of growing beyond a lifestyle business. Successful startups can be led by young women recently out of college as well as more seasoned business veterans who want to strike out on their own. I have also learned the importance of setting an example for the next generation of women – our Junior Judges program is inspiring young women to dream big.
Q: What most excites you about WFN?
A: The fact that we can make a direct impact with entrepreneurs. We are helping women at the earliest stage of growth so in most cases, they need substantial outside support to get to the next level. Since we formed WFN four years ago, we have directly awarded or invested in our finalists $485,000 in cash and professional services. Many of these companies have gained mentors through our board and have gone on to raise more than $37 million after the competition.
Q: What types of startups really excite you?
A: I get most excited when I believe in the founder. She is solving a real problem in a new way. She is attacking a large addressable market and is creating distinct advantages to build a competitive moat around her business. Her business model is “sticky” and scalable, with high gross profit margins that enable her company to grow into its potential.
Q: A few tidbits and random facts: