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
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
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@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
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
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@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
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
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@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
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
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@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@abadesi · Co-founder, Elpha
@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@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@abadesi · Co-founder, Elpha
@jacqvon @stephpalmeri @eva_ho Wow go Sam that's admirable - thanks for sharing a specific example. I always find them helpful 😊
Abadesi
Abadesi@abadesi · Co-founder, Elpha
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@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
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
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@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
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
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@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
Lama Al Rajih@lamaalrajih
Had you always intended on going into VC? If not, what drove you to where you are today?
Eva Ho
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
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@abadesi · Co-founder, Elpha
@taylorstewart +1 on this question, something my colleague @randathinks is working on too with AngelList's portfolio.
Taylor Stewart
Taylor Stewart@taylorstewart
@randathinks @abadesi would love to connect and talk more about what you're working on
Stephanie Palmeri
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
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
Lama Al Rajih@lamaalrajih
- 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
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@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
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
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
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@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
Jacqueline von Tesmar@jacqvon · Community at Product Hunt ⚡️
What industries would you place your bets on in the next 10-20 years?
Abadesi
Abadesi@abadesi · Co-founder, Elpha
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@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@abadesi · Co-founder, Elpha
@eva_ho That's great news 🎉🎉🎉
Aleksandra
Aleksandra@aleks_muse · Maker @ Planet:tech, 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
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
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@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
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@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@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@abadesi · Co-founder, Elpha
@stephpalmeri @eva_ho I've learned so much in the last hour - can't thank you enough 😄
Brenda McLaren
Brenda McLaren@brendamclaren · Co-Founder @ Merit
Hi Eva and Steph, Thanks so much for doing this. I am currently working on a startup that targets parents and we just recently completed our developments and focused on growth. Question is, considering we are in a super early stage and just starting our growth cycle, when is the best time to approach VC’s for seed? I know ideally it would better when we have significant number of users, however will it hurt to approach VC’s early just to establish connection or will it hurt our chances?
Stephanie Palmeri
Stephanie Palmeri@stephpalmeri · Partner @ Uncork Capital
@brendamclaren It never hurts to begin to build a relationship with a VC before you are ready to raise. Instead of sitting down to pitch prematurely, your "ask" to an investor this early might be for 15 minutes to share your idea and get quick feedback. Some investors may ask you to come back when you have some traction to share and others might like to get an early peek. Establishing advisors and other founders who have worked with the VC can also help you establish when the right time to engage is.
Eva Ho
Eva Ho@eva_ho
@brendamclaren It's never too early to start talking to investors (as well as accelerators/incubators). If you have built something compelling, have some initial traction from engaged users, you can begin those conversations. The good investors will tell you if it's too early AND should not penalize you for initiating the relationship. You may fit nicely into the pre-seed category on investors -- shout out to Afore, Precursor, Notation Capital, K9, Wonder -- all great folks at this stage.
✩ evo ∞
✩ evo ∞@amoration · Producer & Strategist @LightLodges
Equating an entrepreneurs' true value to their previous exits devalues most women and diverse leaders who have not been seen in traditional markets or VC board rooms. What can we do to spotlight the deeper value of women leaders and elevate their POTENTIAL COLLECTIVE VALUE, not just their exit$$$?
Susan Bruch
Susan Bruch@suebruch
Thank you all for your dedication to helping female founders like myself secure funding. My question is how do I reach you? LinkedIn doesn’t work and finding email addresses is impossible. Often when using the contact through your sites there’s no response. I’ve flown from coast to coast attending functions but is costly in time and money. Ideas?
Stephanie Palmeri
Stephanie Palmeri@stephpalmeri · Partner @ Uncork Capital
@suebruch One good way to start.. sign up for Female Founder Office Hours (https://www.femalefounder.org/). It's a great way to start to build your network with both investors and other female founders. In general, cold emails are a really hard way to stand out in a VCs inbox; seed funds like mine receive requests from 1000s of founders a year. The more targeted you can make your request, the better.
Susan Bruch
Susan Bruch@suebruch
@stephpalmeri Thank you Stephanie, While I have applied to several FFF Office Hours in different locations, I haven't been accepted as of yet. However, I really look forward to attending! The Office Hours concept is spot on and I'll fly near or far to attend. Just last week I participated in the first Golden Seed Office Hours in Houston, and it was very helpful. The Houston, or Texas funding community isn't really conducive for retail tech, so I've participated in numerous accelerators, conference and Hours on both coasts to increase my exposure. It all helps, but I have yet to meet my investment strategic partner(s). It's a tough nut to crack, but I'd be willing to pay any membership fee for the opportunity to get up close and person to potential partners. Just saying... Thank you for your help today!
Sara N
Sara N@varisara_n
Hi Eva and Steph, Thanks so much for doing this! I'd like to know your personal opinions about how much an MBA has helped shape your paths to becoming successful VC's? Thank you!
Stephanie Palmeri
Stephanie Palmeri@stephpalmeri · Partner @ Uncork Capital
@varisara_n For me, earning my MBA was very helpful in getting my start in venture because it gave me a platform to access and grow a new professional network and a chance to explore career switching. It was the right path for me, but a very personal choice. FWIW, there are very few "post" MBA jobs in venture for new graduates, so it's not a silver bullet by any means, and an MBA is definitely NOT a requirement to be a successful VC!
Sara N
Sara N@varisara_n
@stephpalmeri thanks for sharing! AllRaise is a major inspiration!
Udit Goenka
Udit Goenka@iuditg · CEO & Co-Founder at PitchGround
If you have to give that GOLDEN tip to the founders who are looking for seed round, what will that ONE GOLDEN tip will be?
Prisca Moyesa
Prisca Moyesa@priscamoyesa1
Would love your opinion on how to convert business connections into potential clients? I run a service based social-first marketing agency and still struggle with comprehending how ROI positive social media + content is. There's a lack of education there and it's hard when there's not a strong relationship.
Abadesi
Abadesi@abadesi · Co-founder, Elpha
I am curious to hear about the obstacles you faced when trying to get All Raise off the ground, how did you overcome them?
Efosa S Omorogbe
Efosa S Omorogbe@efosaso · Full-Stack Dev/Multipotentialite at TiTo
What are your tips on business development? Recently we've launched a Student Freelancer app that connects students with paid work experience that works around their studies. 5 Months of running the app we've realised that business development is what is key to our success. Would be great to hear your tips on that
Efosa S Omorogbe
Efosa S Omorogbe@efosaso · Full-Stack Dev/Multipotentialite at TiTo
How do you help founders understand the best price point to charge their business at? We charge a percentage on transactions but don't have the best understanding if the percentage we hold too is determined by something other than how much we value our service.
Emily Snowdon (née Hodgins)
Emily Snowdon (née Hodgins)@emilyjsnowdon · Operations @ Product Hunt
Hi Stephanie and Eva 👋 How can tech workers (and the PH Community) support the All Raise mission?
Eva Ho
Eva Ho@eva_ho
@ems_hodge We are so grateful @rrhoover and others from PH have reached out to offer to help. We have very ambitious projects ahead and need all the help we can get. Your community is important in spreading the word, pushing the narrative and getting volunteers on board. Let's talk more offline -- happy to share more concrete ideas!
Adel
Adel@tweeteradel · Cofounder of Dash – Comaker of Labll
Because MVPs aren't always great representations of a founder's vision – should founders focus more on the MVP and their achievements or their goals/vision – when speaking to early stage VCs ?
Stephanie Palmeri
Stephanie Palmeri@stephpalmeri · Partner @ Uncork Capital
@tweeteradel Vision is ESSENTIAL at the early stage. An MVP is helpful (and often table stakes) to demonstrate your teams ability to ship product, get feedback from users, and show early traction, but you're ability to weave a compelling story for the future is ultimately what gets me excited about a deal.
Adel
Adel@tweeteradel · Cofounder of Dash – Comaker of Labll
@stephpalmeri Is the traditional “I’ve worked at X” type of domain expertise just as important? I ask because – I cofounded a startup with my brother – and we're taking a money management solution our mother raised us on (it’s how she bought us the laptops we're using) – and digitising it as an app – to offer a safe alternative to payday loans. It’s a domain that hasn’t been commercialised, but we’ve lived with the solution forever and know it’s impact.
May Wang
May Wang@may_wang · Co-founder & CTO, Zingbox
How come I don't hear or see anything, even though it shows "Live Now"
Ryan Hoover
Ryan Hoover@rrhoover · Founder, Product Hunt
@may_wang sorry for the confusion, May! LIVE Chats are done in real-time over text. Unfortunately we don't include video or audio.
Abadesi
Abadesi@abadesi · Co-founder, Elpha
I'm conscious of how female VCs at All Raise resources must be stretched - its a full time job on top of your full time job. Do you have plans to loop in allies and supporters from wider tech? Specifically men who also support the mission 👨‍💻
Stephanie Palmeri
Stephanie Palmeri@stephpalmeri · Partner @ Uncork Capital
@abadesi Yes achieving these goals will only happen alongside the men of the ecosystem. Men are partnering with All Raise in many ways. Hundreds of them have joined the Founders for Change movement, showcasing their commitment to diversity in the ecosystem. Through the All Raise VC Network and VC Careers work stream, we are working closely with many male VCs who are seeking to add diversity into their ranks as well.