Event: The Fourth Annual Women In Investing Summit
Date: Thursday, November 29,2018
Venue: Harvard Business School (HBS)
Host: a Student Club at Harvard Business School
Kristin Mugford, Faculty Advisor,
Hortenese Badarani, Conference Chair & Co-Chair
Caitlin Riederer, Conference Co-Chair & Co-President
Kate Mitchell, Co-founder & Partner, Scale Venture Partners
Tom Lister, Co-Managing Partner, Permira
Panel Session Discussions:
Private Equity Panel
Venture Capital & Growth Equity Panel
Public Investing Panel
Improving Gender Diversity in Investing Panel
Event Metrics: about 100 attendees
Harvard MBA students, Harvard MBA alumni,
professionals, and business owners
How I Learned about Women In Investing Summit at Harvard Business School?
I'm new to Boston, despite growing up and attending university in Massachusetts, Boston was a city that I only went to for theatre, ballet, site seeing, and meeting friends from the Boston suburbs.
Now, as an entrepreneur, like any city I've travelled to over the last 4 years, I have a game plan when it comes to exploring, meeting new people, and finding opportunities.
The last two American cities I explored as an entrepreneur were NYC ('2017), and San Francisco (2016), both with unique startup ecosystems.
My strategy for finding events, is looking on eventbrite, meetup.com, and Facebook.
And when I attend events, I connect with organizers who know about other fun events that aren't always publicly advertised or well-known outside certain circles.
This strategy has worked very well for me, when I was in South Korea in March/April this year, to explore the startup and K-beauty scene (see Startup Weekend Seoul Women)
So, coming to Boston, went on eventbrite and found the 4th Annual Women In Investing Summit. And was so happy to see that is was free (some of these events can get pricey), and was a summit, thus enough time to network and talk with attendees.
Why I Attended the Summit :)
I'm on a mission to secure my first series A seed fund ($100K to be exact), and I want to learn more about the mindset of people in the finance world (the background of many Angel and VC's).
And from my experience in Bangkok and securing pre-seed funding, I've learned there is a very different mindset of "finance people" even when they become entrepreneurs.
Even further there there is a disconnect how investors think, communicate, dress, and expect entrepreneurs to build and scale a startup,
in comparison to how entrepreneurs think, communicate, dress, and expect to build and scale their startup.
My Experience: Part I
Earlier in the day I was at wework on Massachusetts Ave., so I walked HBS, which took about 20 minutes in the cold, and wore my personal brand look: under amour, hair in a bun, sparkly hair ban.
Now, I expected that people would dress business casual (which was the dress code), however, I attended as an entrepreneur, so I stood out, I think in a good way :)
About all the attendees were dressed business casual/posh (also, most people were quite good looking, male and female), most of the attendees were MBA students, alumni, and a few professionals.
About 95% of the audience were women, of all types of backgrounds: Asian, Middle East, South American, African, and Caucasian American women.
So there was good representation, and a good turn out as the room for the panel discussions were nearly full.
The first talk, was by the keynote speaker Kate Mitchell, co-founder & partner at Scale Venture Partners.
Hearing her story, and building a career in finance and tech, I almost forgot where I was.
I say this, because I forgot that I was sitting in the most exclusive and competitive business in the world. So of course her education starting at Stanford University,
which people humorously referred to as "the other school," I was happy to get a solid start on understanding finance people and leaders in the VC world.
In her presentation she shared her story of how she got into Venture Capital in the early days, before it was called Venture Capital,
how women today can build their careers in finance, risks she wished she took, how companies want to/need to have more "women of color" and "minorities,"
and she talked about understanding the mindset of an entrepreneur today.
Then there were questions.
I was the first to ask a question, and I enthusiastically introduced myself as an entrepreneur, based in SE Asia, with a BeautyTech startup, and specifically asked:
"How can entrepreneurs pitch to VC's?"
Before she answered my question, she thanked me for attending as an entrepreneur, as her talk mostly directed to MBA students,
then she explained how VC's think, what they are looking for, and how to pitch my idea to them.
Afterwards there were 3 more questions, and a break.
Venture Capital and Growth Equity Panel
Jessie Cai, Vice President at General Atlantic
Lisa Cuesta, Principal at Nextgen Venture Partners
Payal Agarwal Divarkan, Principal at .406 Partners
Lily Lyman, Principal at Underscore VC
Sophia Popova, Vice President at Summit Partners
Sarra Zayani, Investor at Greycroft
This panel discussion was very insightful, as each of the guest spoke about finding a job after completing their MBA at Harvard, or "the other school,"
talked about how important it is to build professional relationships and getting mentors/sponsors to climb from associate, to principal, to partner,
how to know what field in finance they want to work in: private equity, venture capital, investment banking, etc.,
how to build soft and hard skills that they aren't necessarily taught in business school,
how to work with entrepreneurs and how selective VC and investing is when they narrow down which companies and startups they will invest in
how to measure success when starting your career in private equity and venture capital, and emphasized that the key is to look at the long term view of one's track recording picking successful companies,
and discussed balancing personal life and career (two panelists were married and mothers).
Overall, this panel discussion I began to understand how "finance people" think, operate, analyze success and failure, and most importantly how they work with entrepreneurs.
However, when it came to questions, I was quite unsatisfied (I could have worded my question better, to be honest)
If any of their firms invested in Asia, and how can entrepreneurs and investors see "eye to eye" when it comes to scaling the startup, especially in a region that the investor may be unfamiliar with?
Again, should've phrased my question better, but after the talk, I reflected how the best way for me to get a Series A investment will take more than research.
It's really about building a relationship with an Angel or VC, because
people don't invest in ideas, they invest in people who they believe can build those ideas!
Public Investing Panel
James David, Managing Director at Baupost Group
Alessia Falsarone, Managing Director at PineBridge Investments
Anne Mathias, Global FX & Rates Strategist at TheVanguard Group
Elena Matthews, Vice President at Goldman Sachs
Katherine Shaw, Research Analysit at Fidelity
Valerie Valtz, Senior Vice President & COO of Fundamental Equities at DE Shaw
This panel discussion was a bit dry at first, as the panelist briefly talked about how they build their careers and what their companies did,
rather they focused on topics and subjects I wasn't too familiar with (which I honestly couldn't remember, as I was trying to formulate question)
but things got more interesting when they talked about current events and the market.
One MBA student asked what is the panelists thoughts about Saudi Arabia's Aramaco going public?
what are their thoughts/knowledge of big VC's in small startups that eventually go public, for example, Softbank investing in Alibaba,
even further, what their thoughts if China is developed or not a developing nation, and it's success plays a role in more companies becoming public, how will the effect the global public investing landscape?
From these questions, the panel became more lively and other students became more engaged and asked further questions in relation to political affairs and the market.
Unfortunately, there wasn't enough time to ask all the questions,
but I did end up speaking with one of the panelist who shared how happy she was that I brought up China, and wanted to go further and talk about crypto-currencies!
Closing Keynote and Conclusion of Summit
I would have to say this was my least favorite talk, as the focus was primarily about Permira, it's global business, how the finance industry struggles to maintain women in leadership and managing positions,
and how the overall industry suffers from maintaining people who want to have happy and balance professional and family life.
Perhaps this talk wasn't directly for me, and more relevant for the MBA students, so overall I just sat politely, I didn't ask a question, and afterwards I briefly networked and left.
I will say, I'm glad I did attend, I learned a lot, and hope to attend more events by the HBS during the time I'm in Boston :)