In anticipation of Austin's inaugural FUND Conference, speaker spotlights will be featured on each content provider to highlight their backgrounds, passions and advice to those of us in the space.
Today, we share with you Dr. Sara Brand of True Wealth Ventures, speaking on Wednesday, April 25th at our Women Investing in Women Seminar, as well as at the FUND Conference on April 26th.
Sara, please tell us what you do and why you got started.
I am the Founding General Partner of True Wealth Ventures. We invest in women-led companies in the sustainable consumer and consumer health markets. I started this fund after (knowing I wanted to be in VC in Austin) learning that women-led companies perform significantly better financially, yet are an untapped market since only 2% of venture dollars are going to female founded start-ups. With women making 85% of consumer purchase decisions and 80% of healthcare decisions, there’s an additional advantage for companies with women on the management team in designing products for, selling to and servicing these women customers. There are surprisingly no other early-stage gender lens VC funds in the entire central/southern part of the U.S., so Austin makes a great home base for this blind spot in the market given its stature as an active startup hub and with market affinity for the target verticals.
What is the most interesting and/or satisfying part of what you do and why?
There are many very satisfying things about what I do including constantly learning about new technologies and business concepts and meeting amazing people - especially incredible women who I would never have had the opportunity to otherwise meet if I had not been fundraising. However, the most satisfying part of what I do is investing in these amazing women entrepreneurs, getting them the capital and support to scale their businesses and get their solutions out into the world. This is such a virtuous cycle too, as those successful women serve as role models for others to do the same and tend to reinvest their increased wealth back into their communities.
What big ideas do you have for the future of your space?
There is so much "opportunity" in the future for funding women entrepreneurs in the VC space. There's a lot of great data that has been out there for almost a decade now on the financial outperformance and increased innovation with women leaders at the helm. There continues to be more and more data, but we still haven't seen the needle move on the actual VC dollars flowing to women entrepreneurs over at least the last half dozen years. So, my big idea is to change those numbers by starting with this relatively small $20M fund, which will invest in about a dozen startups and create some wildly successful companies with gender diverse founding/exec teams. Then, we will scale up from there to start really moving the needle, and by the time I retire we don't need to have "at least one of the founders or top execs" be a woman as a filter for a fund's investment thesis because it is table stakes for any good company.
What is something people might often miss about you?
I have always drawn a fairly solid line between my professional and personal lives. So, sometimes colleagues have been really surprised to learn that I have young kids. Similarly, I have had good friends and close family that never really understood what I do professionally, or who are surprised to learn that I have always had a full-time career instead of just owning a brewery.
What one piece of advice would you give to those in the early stage space?
What comes to mind for both investors (who might be raising a fund) or early stage entrepreneurs (who are almost always raising rounds) is to be persistent. I believe that focusing on maintaining a realistic and positive state of mind is key to being able to consistently show up for yourself, your team, your investors and be excited about what you are doing.
Why did you decide to #JoinTheFUND?
I decided to join FUND Conference because they see the importance of women investing in women and have dedicated an entire day on April 25th to further building out and supporting this growing and powerful ecosystem.
What motto do you live by?
I don't have a motto I live by, but a few favorites are "If you think you can or think you can't, you are right", "Self-care is self-preservation, not self-indulgence", and "Things which matter most should never be at the mercy of things which matter least."
We encourage you to connect with Sara, and of course make time to meet her at FUND Conference. Sara is participating in a fireside chat with Jean Anne Booth of Unaliwear taking place on Wednesday, April 25th, and the 'What makes VC write the check' panel discussion on April 26th. Review the run of show here, where you can also mark your calendar to ensure you don't miss how Sara is working to equalize venture capital allocations.