5 Women to Watch in Venture - Winter Edition (2024)
In this Winter’s Edition, I’m excited to highlight five women in venture who I believe are poised to make a huge impact on the industry (and even the world). I continue to be incredibly inspired by the success and vision of the women in my network who are changing the face of venture capital through their investment approach, passion, and commitment to making an impact.
These women all come from different backgrounds and bring diverse perspectives that add immense value to their respective funds and the industry as a whole. They all share a passion for challenging the status quo, creative problem solving, and a steadfast commitment to support founders and their peers.
Join us in celebrating their inspiring achievements and bold aspirations.
Cvic is the Founder & General Partner of Frankenbuild Ventures as well as the Fintech Investment Chair & Board Member of Erez Capital. Frankenbuild Ventures invests in early stage hardware centric companies creating sustainable solutions in extreme environments (think space, the ocean, and green energy sources). Ya know, casual world changing robots, NBD.
Cvic started her career in research and spent time at NASA, Oxford, Harvard, and Boston Children’s Hospital. She has an impressive background and a clear passion for lifelong learning and growth. Cvic also spent time as a technical product owner applying her skills to product development. And in the background of all of that, she gravitated towards venture because she was intrigued by the opportunity to learn more about how to analyze, assess and impact the commercial viability and trajectory of disruptive technology.
In addition to running her own fund, and supporting the Erez Fintech thesis, she’s also a keynote speaker, judge and mentor for MassChallenge/Techstars/gener8tor, etc, and staunch supporter of the innovation ecosystem, crediting orgs like Startup Boston and NH Tech Alliance.
Cvic is passionate about making an impact on our world’s overall sustainability through climate innovation and an impact on the venture industry’s level of transparency and accessibility.
Cvic’s career advice?
Young women should embrace their unique point of view and have more confidence in the value of their diversity of thought. You think and problem solve differently and that is a good thing - it’s not charity to hire women - your diversity of thought has tangible evergreen value to investors and founders.
Elana is a Partner at Red Beard Ventures and the Founder of The Girls Table. Red Beard has an angel syndicate and an institutional fund focused on early stage investments innovating in the metaverse, crypto, and web3.
Elana started her career in Big 4 consulting and then had an itch to experience startup life and joined an early stage company in LA. While she was working there, she continued to get more immersed in the world of venture and early stage tech and there was no turning back. Elana is clearly extremely passionate about crypto and web3 and her personal interest in this technology fuels her. She is also an active angel investor and community cultivator.
Elana is inspired by her ability to invest in companies that can truly impact the future of our world and the way we live for the better. Think hypersonic travel, a decentralized financial system and more. Her energy and drive is absolutely infectious.
In addition to her work as an investor, Elana also founded and runs a group called The Girls Table, a leading podcast, newsletter, and community for founders & investors.
Elana’s career advice?
If you want to get into venture, make moves and put yourself out there. Start investing through syndicates, look into venture scout programs, and produce valuable content (ideally in a specific vertical as a subject matter expert). You’re going to learn best by doing and you’re going to get people’s attention through action, thought leadership, and thoughtful introductions.
Lauren started her career at Atlassian as a member of their experiential marketing team. When she learned about web3 and blockchain she became obsessed (in the best way) about the significant impact this technology can have on end consumers, in addition to businesses. Lauren started a podcast called Allowlist to interview leaders in the space to elevate this exact discussion.
Through her podcast guests and networking efforts, she ended up learning more about the venture and startup ecosystem, and eventually meeting the founder of Decasonic. She read two books in two days, took copious notes, and convinced him even if she didn’t know everything (yet), no one would out work her. You go girl.
Lauren is a self-proclaimed consumer superfan and loves meeting and helping founders who are innovating in the consumer space. Lauren is the in-house narrative expert at Decasonic, as a former marketer and long time podcast host, she excels at helping founders elevate and communicate their story in an effective way. She hopes to impact the industry by helping to lower the barrier to entry for people (especially women) looking to work in venture. Greater diversity of thought in check writing seats will lead to greater diversity in capital allocation (#retweet).
Lauren’s career advice?
If you have thoughts about the companies you want to invest in, or an industry or thesis you’re really passionate about - start writing about it! Build a personal brand through content (a blog, newsletter, podcast etc) and thought leadership to build credibility. Content and thought leadership are another form of a digital resume that is just as powerful (if not more) as traditional corporate experience.
Naomi started her career in fashion and her first exposure to venture came when she took a role at a venture backed startup running their e-commerce market development efforts. From there, she transitioned into a role at a recruiting firm where she wore a number of hats as she helped them build and scale for over six years. The firm she worked at specialized in filing GTM and developer roles within high growth startups - so venture was still a big part of her orbit.
Naomi’s strengths in marketing, sales, community building, talent, and business operations make her the ideal candidate to build and run Platform at a fund. Platform is a new function for Essence so she has the exciting task of building and shaping the role from the ground up. She proudly labels herself a high functioning generalist and thinks there is immense value in diversity of experience as it makes you more nimble and resourceful (agreed!).
Her passion for supporting founders and being an integral part of their trusted advisor circle is undeniable. She considers her north star being someone who is bluntly helpful - if there is a big or small roadblock - she is committed to making her founders' lives easier.
Naomi’s career advice?
Be confident and be yourself - it’s enough. Tactical, candid, and gritty people are what VC needs - especially now. Don’t feel like you have to be a shinier version of yourself to succeed. Also - the more operating experience you can get - the better. If you want to work in VC, working closely with an early stage founder (or multiple) is a prime training ground.
Zaz is a Partner at FirstMile Ventures, an early stage fund whose mission is to be the first partner to founders building generational companies in the fastest-growing tech talent hubs outside the coasts - starting in Texas and Colorado.
Fun fact…Zaz wanted to become a spy when she was growing up! However, her career really took off working for a fintech startup in NYC. While she was getting her MBA, she interned at a local impact fund and worked for founders on the side. She got immersed in the venture and startup community off campus, which led to a role at Austin Ventures, the largest VC in the Southwest. Zaz left that fund after two years to go back to working for founders but she made a promise to herself that she’d return to venture one day with a seat at the table and deeper expertise to actually help founders grow their businesses. So she spent several years working for tech startups in Austin, building out Business development and Corporate Development functions before coming back to venture as a Principal at NextCoast Ventures and now a Partner at FirstMile. Round of applause for knowing what you want and paving the path to get it.
Zaz thrives on the diversity in her work, supporting founders solving problems in a variety of industries. She deeply enjoys the relationship-building aspect of the job as well. Her prior experience working at startups has influenced her ability to read people, pattern match commercial viability, and have empathy for the non-linear journey founders face. Zaz tries to assess what founders are not saying as much as what they are saying as she evaluates new deals.
She hopes to impact the industry by bringing more discipline back to venture from better founder relationships to deeper diligence.
Zaz’s career advice?
Get comfortable showing your conviction in a way that’s true to you. It’s important to be comfortable and confident in your conviction on deals and earn the respect of your partners and peers.