All Raise: Eva Ho & Steph Palmeri

On a mission to accelerate the success of female funders and founders

THIS CHAT HAPPENED ON May 15, 2018

Discussion

Stephanie Palmeri@stephpalmeri · Partner @ Uncork Capital
Alongside 32 other female investors we created All Raise to accelerate the success of female founders and funders. Tech should be driven by a diverse group of leaders. People of all backgrounds should have the opportunity to participate, shape, and succeed in the founding, funding, and building of technology-driven companies. Ask us anything!
Ryan Hoover@rrhoover · Founder, Product Hunt
Thanks for jumping on PH, Eva and Steph! A few of the goals you've set at All Raise is to (1) double the number of female VC's (>$25M fund size) from 9% to 18% over the next 10 years and (2) increase the percentage of venture-funded female founders from 15% to 25% over the next 5 years. I love that you're hosting office hours and many of the women part of the org are specifically focused on investing in female-led companies. I'm curious if you have plans to also build products that can help achieve these goals? The beauty of products is that they have the ability to scale and make a big impact, although it's not obvious (to me) what they might look like at the moment. 😊
Eva Ho@eva_ho
@rrhoover Love the idea of productizing some of our initiatives. While we have a bit of software behind the efforts, it has been a lot of human-effort/labor. It would be terrific to automate some of the work we are doing. Via the All Raise non-profit, we will be hiring a team this year -- and technology enablement will be an area we will put more focus on. Thanks for pushing us on this. Scale and increased accessibility (without losing all our weekends) are priorities for us!
Raveesh Bhalla@raveeshbhalla · Product/Design Consultant
@rrhoover @eva_ho would definitely love to see what you all build. One of my favorite "sort of similar" success stories along these lines is Hustle - https://www.producthunt.com/post...
Andy Ayim@andymansmiles · Pathways for undervalued founders
I am curious to learn how you think we can create more pathways into angel investing for women and other diverse groups?
Eva Ho@eva_ho
@andymansmiles Important question. There are some existing groups working on this including Female Funders, 37 Angels, Golden Seeds and others. But we still need a lot more pathways to get entrepreneurs access to this talented pool of investors. Angels fill an important gap at the early stages of a company -- and women/diverse investors will bring a lot more than capital to play -- their unique expertise and perspectives are vital to helping founders get off the ground. Some ideas are around more education and community-building to help this group understand the risks and rewards and why we need them to participate.
randa@randathinks · Deal team @ AngelList
How can first-time female GPs sell themselves to LPs without an investment track record? In other words, what do you both think LPs are looking for in new GPs?
Stephanie Palmeri@stephpalmeri · Partner @ Uncork Capital
@randathinks Assuming you are asking about new fund managers raising a first time fund... outside of an investment track record, I believe LPs are also looking for whether the GP has access to proprietary dealflow, unique/differentiated investment thesis, and how that GPs previous experience prepares them to excel at this thesis w/ this dealflow.
Eva Ho@eva_ho
@randathinks Investment track record remains important but that is balanced with a unique background and skills that will be important to the stage of founders you are investing in. One way to hack the track record is to build a decent angel portfolio. While the transition from angel to institutional investor still requires some learning, demonstrating an ability to get into interesting deals, have strong references from founders on how you were able to help them, have a network of GPs who know and respect you, will be useful in getting LPs' attention.
Jacqueline von Tesmar@jacqvon · Community at Product Hunt ⚡️
What are some of the top qualities you look for in the founders you invest in?
Stephanie Palmeri@stephpalmeri · Partner @ Uncork Capital
@jacqvon Perseverance and passion are at the top of my list... It takes grit to start a company and stick through all the ups and downs of the startup journey.
Eva Ho@eva_ho
@jacqvon Great question. I look for a connection to the story you are sharing, a connection to the problem you are solving, and ability to execute with a clarity of focus.
Abadesi@abadesi · 👩🏽‍💻 Product Hunt | Hustle Crew | NTT
@jacqvon @stephpalmeri What are tangible ways founders can demonstrate their perseverance? Do you have examples of specific founders who really impressed you with their grit? 💪🏽
Eva Ho@eva_ho
@jacqvon @stephpalmeri @abadesi At Fika, where possible, we try to get to know founders really early on (you can call pre pre seed if you like), and follow them for a few months. How they communicate with us, how they show progress, take feedback, etc. are all great signals on how the relationship will likely unfold. We have one founder, Sam Byker, who we got to know for almost a year before we did a deal. He actually wouldn't take our money for months -- until he felt he has arrived at a compelling business idea. That level of integrity and maturity (along with perseverance) really pulls us in.
Abadesi@abadesi · 👩🏽‍💻 Product Hunt | Hustle Crew | NTT
@jacqvon @stephpalmeri @eva_ho Wow go Sam that's admirable - thanks for sharing a specific example. I always find them helpful 😊
Abadesi@abadesi · 👩🏽‍💻 Product Hunt | Hustle Crew | NTT
In the last few weeks I've come across lots of founders trying to raise a seed round. What advice can you give to founders pitching for funding at that stage?
Eva Ho@eva_ho
@abadesi Make sure you have a compelling, authentic story and a strong rationale behind the problem you are trying to solve. Really be able to defend "why" you want to do this for many years to come. Then back that story up with a strong plan of attack and clear milestones you hope to achieve with the amount of funding you are asking for. Then look for warm referrals to investors who are keen on your space.
Stephanie Palmeri@stephpalmeri · Partner @ Uncork Capital
@abadesi first, build a target list of VCs, focusing on firms/partners that invest at your stage and in your space. Then, try to find a warm introductions... it can really help you stand out from the flood of requests for meetings. Who in your network also knows the investor you want to pitch? Figure out the strongest ties (I love intros that come from founders I have backed... these founders also know what it's like to work with me, so the signal is very strong).
randa@randathinks · Deal team @ AngelList
What do you both think about events/programming that are *by women and for women* vs. those which include male allies and mentors? Should female founder office hours also be held by male VCs? Sandi MacPherson's piece comes to mind: https://medium.com/@sandimac/why... "We need to focus on ensuring that these spaces are filled with allies and people who are interested in meeting with smart, competent, and ambitious founders that they’re excited to meet and build relationships with — irrespective of whether they’re a man or woman."
Juliet Monique Oberding@juliet_monique_oberding · CEO, Predictably Well
@sandimac @randathinks I appreciate *by women and for women* events. It gives us as women the opportunity to learn from each other and share experiences. I do agree that it is important to bring in allies regardless of gender. One problem, I have repeatedly heard female VC's say they don't look at gender they look at Founders. Sometimes this sounds like they don't care about diversity, intersectionality and inclusion. It is a thought process that follows this pattern; "I'm not discriminating so there isn't a problem."
Urenna Okonkwo@urennalexa · Founder, Cashmere App
Hi Eva & Steph! Glad to hear that you are championing diversity and looking to invest in people of all backgrounds. What advice would you give to first time founders like me who may come from less privileged backgrounds (and so are much less likely to have a wealthy network of friends and family to help with that initial raise that most VCs tell you to do). And what is All Raise doing to tackle this problem that a lot of us experience? Thank you!
Stephanie Palmeri@stephpalmeri · Partner @ Uncork Capital
@urennalexa Great question Urenna! Female Founder Office Hours is one way in which All Raise is addressing helping first time founders build and grow their networks. Two weeks ago, FFOH expanded to add 120+ vc-backed founders to the mentor network. To date, 1500 female founders have applied for 200 1:1 mentoring sessions. The recent expansion will help scale that network and include remote mentoring.
Eva Ho@eva_ho
@urennalexa Another very important question. I am sympathetic to this as I also came from an underprivileged background. Think the socioeconomic lens is as important as gender, etc. While the road is harder, there are more resources now to get educated, more incubators to apply to, and more open networks and communities to join than ever before. And those no longer exist only in Silicon Valley. That said, All Raise is very aware of this need and working to provide access to folks from all types of backgrounds and locations -- Please look out for more founder initiatives in the months to come to help towards this goal.
Lama Al Rajih@lamaalrajih · building Hack Students
Had you always intended on going into VC? If not, what drove you to where you are today?
Eva Ho@eva_ho
@lamaalrajih I absolutely did not. I was always more of a founder/entrepreneur at heart. A few years back, I reflected on how I can best amplify my efforts to help folks smarter/faster than me to build great things. And this path suddenly seemed natural. I thought I could be useful here. But if wasn't from some clearly planned/orchestrated career path.
Taylor Stewart@taylorstewart
Hi Steph and Eva - Thank you to you and your colleagues for bringing All Raise to life. I am currently in a BD role at a venture fund and looking to build the skills that would make me a valuable addition to an investment team. Venture has been referred to as an apprenticeship industry where on-the-job learning and mentorship/sponsorship are highly valuable. In order to double the number of female VCs in the next 10 years, will you be opening up any programs or tools to help women like myself get the guidance they need to secure investment roles? Likewise, I'd like to increase my current fund's pipeline of female/minority founders (we focus on B2B AI). What do you suggest I do to help add more diversity to our portfolio?
Abadesi@abadesi · 👩🏽‍💻 Product Hunt | Hustle Crew | NTT
@taylorstewart +1 on this question, something my colleague @randathinks is working on too with AngelList's portfolio.
Taylor Stewart@taylorstewart
@randathinks @abadesi would love to connect and talk more about what you're working on
Stephanie Palmeri@stephpalmeri · Partner @ Uncork Capital
@taylorstewart All Raise has a number of initiatives focused on careers in venture, check this out: https://www.allraise.org/women-i.... We hosted our first community event for women in VC in February of 2018 and more are in the works. We also publish a regular newsletter with investment opportunities of all levels at venture firms that have expressed an interest in hiring more diverse candidates by sharing these roles with All Raise. You can sign up for the newsletter via the link above as well.
Gaëlle@mademoiselleboa · Gaëlle Founder of Birds of Afrika
👋🏾 Eva and Steph ✨ Thank you Product Hunt for that great opportunity! My startup idea is to create a digital legacy for African languages. We have numerous way to learn Europeans languages Babbel, Duolingo, Rosettastone, Memrise... you name it. But for some reasons when it comes to African languages nothing similar. When I explained what is the purpose of BOA* people attend to think is a charity cause relate or simply doubts the need for it. (and especially none African descendants) I have attended more than 150 events mainly focused on the black community/ Africa interest related over the past 6 months and spoken with 250 people and I’m still amazed by the number of people how are in demand for such products!! Even willing to pay for something similar delicate to them. I kept on asking why do they need it for and the main reason was the importance of preserving the heritage to future generations via tech. How do I convince get people to actually consider and question themselves about that overcome niche market and also invest? I'm now thinking of creating an MVP to prove that I have tackled something serious and want to demonstrate it. What is your opinion on that and do you have any advice. Thanks, ladies Sorry for that massive message 😅 Many thanks Regards *BOA =Birds of Afrika name of my startup
Lama Al Rajih@lamaalrajih · building Hack Students
- How hard do you find turning away founders for investments? - What's something that you find underrated/underappreciated (not specifically limited to tech)?
Stephanie Palmeri@stephpalmeri · Partner @ Uncork Capital
@lamaalrajih saying "no" is one of the hardest parts of my job, but I say "no" 99.9% of the time. Less then 1% of the 1000s of deals in my pipleine will result in an investment. The easiest "no's" are when it's immediately clear a deal is not a fit (i.e. it's not a fit from a sector, stage, geography perspective, it's competitive with another portfolio company). The hardest no's are when I have spent a lot of time with a founder, getting to know them and doing diligence on the company.
Eva Ho@eva_ho
@lamaalrajih @stephpalmeri Agree with Steph. Saying "no" really is the crappy part of the job. As operators, we have been on the receiving end of that, and know how hard it is to get that message. But it's better to have investors who can say "no" vs. those who keep the door open ambiguously.
Abi Mohamed@abii_mohamed · Tech Director, CGVENTURES
Hey Eva & Steph ! Hope you two are doing well. I’m helping founders in Lonodn get investment via CGVentures. I was wondering when should a venture get/or look for funding. Been having this debate daily with my community and we still redefining the best milestone to introduce money. I know timing is key. From your experience do you believe the earlier the better or it’s best to wait and see if the founder can build & make revenue with £0 funding before they even look for money?
Stephanie Palmeri@stephpalmeri · Partner @ Uncork Capital
@abii_mohamed I always encourage founders to bootstrap as long as possible... or until bootstrapping is clearly getting in the way of growing the business. That said, founders don't have to raise millions out of the gate. It's normal to start small by raising a little bit of money from friends/family or from angels that might be open to investing pre-traction. Each time you raise money, think about how long you expect that money to last and what milestones it will help you achieve. Will that money enable you to show enough traction to raise more money (assuming you expect venture scale growth) or to break even? If yes, go raise! If no, it might be relevant to rethink the amount and the milestones and adjust your fundraise goal accordingly.
Jacqueline von Tesmar@jacqvon · Community at Product Hunt ⚡️
What's the biggest critique of your work that you are most sympathetic to?
Eva Ho@eva_ho
@jacqvon As seed investors, we have to make decisions really quickly given the volume of deals we come across. We see thousands a year, and we know we will miss some gems due to the sheer number. Some folks have commented that our job as investors is more based on luck vs. skill. There is certainly some truth in that, but we also try to apply a repeatable process to ensure we optimize more on hardwork/relationship-building/skill vs. luck.
Jacqueline von Tesmar@jacqvon · Community at Product Hunt ⚡️
What industries would you place your bets on in the next 10-20 years?
Abadesi@abadesi · 👩🏽‍💻 Product Hunt | Hustle Crew | NTT
There's been a lot of news around Arlan Hamilton of Backstage Capital's new $36M fund for black women founders - will All Raise play a part in supporting the fund's mission?
Eva Ho@eva_ho
@abadesi We have great respect for Arlan and what she has accomplished. A real force of nature. She is also in my backyard, LA (woohoo!). We want and expect to work with GPs and funds focused on putting capital to work towards female/diverse founders. So yes! She will always have our support.
Abadesi@abadesi · 👩🏽‍💻 Product Hunt | Hustle Crew | NTT
@eva_ho That's great news 🎉🎉🎉
Aleksandra@aleks_muse · Maker @ Tealosophy, Supergirls
Do you cooperate or partner with organizations that are on the same mission and work outside of US? I'm excited about the female founders office hours and I wish we have something similar across the Europe. Do you have plans to scale your efforts?
Stephanie Palmeri@stephpalmeri · Partner @ Uncork Capital
@aleks_muse The momentum of initiatives around the globe is inspiring. We hope to share best practices and lessons learned across them all. Our group is singularly focused on bringing more diversity to the founding and funding of the next generation of amazing companies. We are partnering with a number of different organizations, but I unfortunately I can't personally speak to specifics in Europe.
Julie Delanoy@syswarren · Design at Product Hunt
Hey Eva and Steph! I was wondering how can communities like ours support the All Raise mission? Here at PH, we're working on new tools for makers/founders, and I want to make sure we're doing everything we can to support actions like yours.
Eva Ho@eva_ho
@syswarren Thanks for your offer to help Julie! We have several initiatives geared towards female founders and would love to see how they align with your tools. Let's connect and find ways to amplify our efforts. Imagine we will find some great alignment.
randa@randathinks · Deal team @ AngelList
The All Raise platform is explicitly mission-driven -- there isn't strong mention of the economic incentive of investing in women. How did you all land on the mission and goals?
Eva Ho@eva_ho
@randathinks We fundamentally believe diverse founders and teams lead to better products and financial returns. So we chose the goals that will drive those outcomes.
Eva Ho@eva_ho
Hello! This is Eva from Fika Ventures. So excited to lead this discussion with @stephpalmeri on All Raise. Please ask us anything!
Abadesi@abadesi · 👩🏽‍💻 Product Hunt | Hustle Crew | NTT
@stephpalmeri @eva_ho I've learned so much in the last hour - can't thank you enough 😄