"You need to be a little crazy. But, you also need to have a very good idea in the sense that it's fixing a real need and not just a nice thing to have"
Caring about diversity – Beatriz Franco
Beatriz Franco is a Managing Partner at Vita Ventures, an early-stage fund supporting innovations across the food industry while reducing demands on our planet.
Beatriz is also a Lead Investor at Portfolia’s Food & AgTech fund, angel Investor, and advisor. In 20+ years of experience, she has held many leadership positions in multinational environments including CEO of an AgTech company, director of investments at Plum Alley Investments, Wall Street investment banker at JPMorgan, as well as corporate lawyer at top law firms in Silicon Valley (Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati), in New York (Simpson Thacher & Bartlett) and Brazil (Pinheiro Neto Advogados).
The full #OPNAskAnAngel talk
Beatriz: Thank you very happy to be here.
Jeffery: It’s exciting because we don’t always get the opportunity to talk people who are in food and cpg like it’s like I think we’re two investors in uh five billion people like nobody really I don’t know who invests in these companies or how they get off the ground but it seems like investors just don’t pop up and they’re not everywhere out there they’re always into Tech and SAS so it’s really exciting to be able to Deep dive into a conversation with you around food and what’s going on in that world and uh real pleasure to have you here today.
Beatriz: Thank you I think at Vino we have both worlds that’s why
Jeffery: It does make a difference and I guess that’s probably a way to sustain your business of investing at the same time but really cool so the way we like to to kick off our show is that um we want to be able to Deep dive on yourself share a little bit about where you came from all these great things that you’ve done and you can go all the way back to your legal side from uh even JP Morgan all the way to Thatcher and forward even when you were a CEO please we want to dive into that too because all of these things bring a lot of value to the to the community and then while you’re sharing that one thing about you that nobody would know
Beatriz: All right so let me start with the one thing that some people will know but anything like it’s a fun fact I guess um I am addicted to taking classes uh I can’t explain why but I think I have this feeling that life is too short um and since I was I don’t know since elementary school I was taking seven or eight after school classes and it was never enough and it was sports music language you name it like I want to take everything and the day just wasn’t long enough later in life I continued to do that as long as work would allowed I took skateboarding I took a serious amateur cooking class I took all these things and and my friends at JP Morgan would make fun of me because a lot of times I had to leave the happy hour or whatever it was to go to like a hotel management class and they’re like come on are you really opening a hotel and I was like not anytime soon but this is pretty interesting so so yes I have a problem with that kind of addiction I guess
Jeffery: That’s awesome that’s a good addiction to have I think learning is the best thing and trying new things is certainly more creative it allows you to meet new people in different areas you never know what you’re going to get yourself into so that’s pretty exciting yeah very cool
Beatriz: all right so back to your question on my career um definitely not a linear path by any means um I’m from Brazil I’m from a generation that did not ask the question what do I really like and what should I do in my life that has bigger meaning or impact that was not you know allowed at that time something we thought about was is this a good career is this gonna you know allow me to be independent and have a decent living so I didn’t plan my career around what I liked and I plan around what would be good right so I started as a corporate lawyer first in Brazil at a firm called pietoneto then in New York got a firm called Simpson Thatcher and then in Silicon Valley I referred called Wilson City so I did that for almost a decade I worked a lot a lot a lot night you know all-nighters weekends but you know I really learned a lot as well it was so exciting to be part of very large transactions that involved companies that you were reading about in the financial times I particularly liked going through IPO processes and seeing what took you know to get them there so overall was a great experience I met so many smart and interesting people some of my best friends are from my lawyer days and and to be honest I still feel at home when I go to the law firms to see them um but I reached a point in my career that I wanted to be closer to the business decisions and that’s when I decided to take a risk and switch careers completely so I became an investment banker uh believe it or not I worked last hours people say investment bankers work a lot but compared to lawyers not as much uh earlier though we started our days very early so I was an investment banker Japan market for almost a decade as well I uh Japan Margo was an amazing school I started in the debt Capital markets desk then derivatives and then I moved into credit structuring um I think I like the credit deals the best we had this small group uh people sort of a mix of sales trading structuring that work together like a little small business within the bigger firm and and it was fun it was fun working with them our goal was to Source structure and place non-vanilla deals so basically the deals that were not easy to to get done and we had to figure out how to get yes from all the parties involved um sometimes at a guarantee sometimes the higher interest rate sometimes a different maturity um you name it so so that was that was really interesting and then at some point I started asking the question that I had not asked before in the beginning of my career which was what do I really like and and how can I have a bigger impact with what I’m doing so that’s when I left the corporate world I started Consulting for startups I joined a fund that invested in women Founders and during that time I was Consulting for an agriculture attack company which I then ended up joining as Chief strategy officer at first and then became the CEO we were working on a technology development MIT for sustainable fertilizers and from there I started getting deeper into the food system as a whole and the more I learned about it the more I realized how unsustainable it really was right on the one hand we have population growth reaching close to 10 billion by 2050 and on the other hand you have a system that can’t maintain its levels of production as is let alone increase you know production for more people so I you know natural resources are limited climate change is making it harder to produce the same way as before and at the same time our food system is making climate change worse so it was really clear to me that we needed Innovations in the whole food system space and I wanted to be a part of that so that’s kind of when I found okay this is what I’ve been waiting for my whole life and then finally um found what I liked I joined portfolios foot and exact fund and then I started Vita Ventures with my partner Rita rosenheim to focus exclusively in food Tech and supporting the solutions to the challenges of our food system as a whole.
Jeffery:I love it you the reason why I love where you are well I feel like I’m your guidance counselor from a long time ago you’ve really done some great things Beatrice you learned a lot you’ve done a lot of things but the reason I I am putting the Acclaim to it is because I always say that the people that have the best knowledge structure and understanding of startup world are people that are lawyers and accountants and you’re doing both so like it’s kind of cool Sorry bankers and accountants are putting together because you understand financials so it’s really cool because you don’t normally get somebody that has such a diverse background especially in two areas where they focus heavily on beating up analyzing and understanding the startup space and we’ll say more series a and up because you’re getting into all the different things that you just talked about which are how you’re breaking down debt and how you’re trying to acquire companies and that’s way different than most people get and then on the other side you get a lot of deal flow and understanding when you’re in a law firm lawyers tend to always be in every spot which is I’m sure you can uh attest to this but every deal has a lawyer behind it and then they’ve got 10 other ones behind them and a few million waiting for the to get into this opportunity so I just find that that’s where all the knowledge is and they really dominate in this space and it’s really cool that you have both sides of the fence on this one and that I think brings a lot of value or huge value that most can’t carry when it uh it comes to this space so amazing so it’s paid off that you work so much.
Beatriz: Thank you.
Jeffery: Ah that’s so cool well and now I’m going to kind of want to pull back a little bit and draw into that so when you taking the legal side and putting this together um especially from the corporate side you get into things from governance um being able to paper things up a lot better you know even when they get to board seats they’re always telling people make sure that you have a lawyer on the board it’s going to make a big difference so can you maybe shape a little bit of that over that decade that you spent uh working in the law side what really did you take from that that really applies to what you’re doing today over the last five six years that you’ve been investing are you really hard on the founders and saying no you can’t do that send me the legal I’ll take care of this like how are you really working in this space with that legal side.
Beatriz: Yeah I think I found a way to live with all my previous careers as one inside myself so um I guess the lawyer side is the side that asks the what-if questions so I I identify where is a potential problem instead of thinking oh this is all going to work out as we imagine no what if this doesn’t work out then what happens right and should we paper this should we have something saying like this is what’s going to happen if it doesn’t go exactly as planned because lawyers are not worried about there’s a saying that when we’re law school they say things like you have to prepare for the parade of Horrors so you have to think about like if five things go wrong what you do like when you know most people are just The Optimist it’s like everything’s been great I love my partner we’re doing so well together and you don’t need to think about what if something happens like there there must be a plan so I think that’s where the lawyer side comes in um the banker side is more of like what is the financial opportunity how do we get there how do we you know get the best momentum and how are we ready for an IPO at the end um but I also have the operator side which is more of the empathetic side as well right I know I’ve been there I know there’s ups and downs I know um it will be hard but I also know that there will be blind spots because Founders have 10 jobs in one very small teams and a lot to deliver so there’s that side of me that looks for what’s the blind spot for this specific company for this specific specific founder and can I help in any way right so that’s kind of how it makes everything up.
Jeffery: Now that’s great and and again I I’m taking that legal side but what if and having that question I’m sure that’s going to be pretty impactful that you’re always going to be able to bring that to the founder when they’re diving in you’ve made an investment and you start to kind of go back on your past and start looking at where there was loopholes where there’s things that need to be closed off I think that becomes very valuable especially when it gets into IP and trying to understand what the value of the company really carries in their business before they’ve even got to Market is there a lot of play that you’ve had got the opportunity to work with your founders with that background knowledge and being able to open that up and does it come to the table a lot or today’s world IP’s not that significant because everybody’s more just all protected if I go and tell everybody what I’m doing that I’m in more trouble and since you work on both sides in in food and Tech does that resonate well.
Beatriz: Yeah so on the IP side there are many strategies that they can take and I’ve never been an IP lawyer so they definitely need help from an IP lawyer when they’re discussing this but from my past experiences you always have to decide what’s best at that point in time is it to do a patent and make it more public or is it to keep it as a trade secret um so there are all these strategies that I need to think through and also a lot of times Founders think oh I’ll just patent this and it’ll be fine it’s like no there’s like all kinds of countries you need to think about are you going to go there it’s expensive to maintain this does it matter where should you really be focused on so I can help with some of that thinking process but when it’s time to really you know write a patent and get like you need someone more um
specialized to really give guidance because this is definitely not an easy an easy task.
Jeffery: Now that’s for sure I remember this was uh probably 20 years ago I remember talking to um and I’m gonna which I was trying to remember the name of the shoes but those foam shoes that everybody has the ones that are really soft but no one wants to wear Crocs and uh I can’t remember if it was the founder or co-founder or someone and it was just a random Meetup and they told me that they had patented um the material that made Crocs and they had to patent it across the entire world because that’s how much they believed in this and they had the time they had something like 120 patents in uh sorry in 120 countries or something to that effect and I don’t know if that still holds true maybe it was 80 but they were working on that and at the time I knew nothing about venture to this extent but I just had that pop in my head man that was a long time ago but yeah um it does make a difference in understanding that and a patent lawyer or not the still the legal side of understanding it and I think that that direction can obviously uh be really pushed for forward so that’s that’s an important piece of any business and understanding what to do and it comes up a lot in questions too from Founders what should I do should I open up this you know or I’m going to do a patent and the patent tends to be unfortunately uh they’re trying to do something that’s more of a systematic patent uh which or process patent it doesn’t really carry much weight so uh 10 here one percent there and now you’ve got yourself another business so it’s a there is a lot of stuff that you can avoid early on from cost perspective and and try to just keep those secrets and and manage the business forward so I guess there’s many ways like you said to to operate and skin the cat on that one.
Beatriz: Yeah and and to be honest it’s important for sure um but execution is also important right you see sometimes copycats coming and executing it better and getting you know in front of the line so so I do think yes you need to worry about that and you also need to worry about execution and not feel like okay now that it’s patented everything is fine or you still need to keep going under.
Jeffery: So how does how do you when working with the company on that side how do you enforce early on say they do have patents and you’re seeing that they’re being infringed on um it’s a startup where they don’t have the capital to fight this they don’t have the capital to do much with it is it something that you just kind of put on the back burner and deal with in 10 years when hopefully the other companies are bigger and then you can go after them for more financing or you know how does that look.
Beatriz: I think it depends on the problem itself how big of a problem it is is it a little thing you can change and doesn’t really matter is it a big part of your business and you need to get a lawyer and start with a seasoned and say you take take it from there you know but a startup that starts into a legal battle that early on will die I mean there’s no way around it is just very very costly.
Jeffery: That is true that is true so now you uh you’ve taken this legal side you’re moving it forward and you switch categories you jump onto the banking side from a numbers perspective spreadsheeting it out I’m going to to make the assumption that through this you uh built on some uh bigger better faster quicker learnings on how to run different derivatives and financing and manage money differently how much is that kind of now impacted the legal side and when you’re now speaking to um CEOs are you more hard fact on I need to see your p l i need to understand the real numbers and diving in deeper into that perspective before you actually even start kicking off any other conversations.
Beatriz: Because I invest in early stage companies there’s not a lot to dig into right there’s projections um but no early revenues per se my my partner side of the world sometimes has early Revenue she looks more at the software side and digital which is different than the site that I look at which is more of the food science and biotech so I look at it from the standpoint I obviously look at the projections but I look from the standpoint of the assumptions I want to make sure whatever is there is doable how big is this Market can you get to where you think you’re going to get how hard is it going to be um and and see if it’s realistic you know optimistic is fine but is it even possible from the way your showing to me or is it completely delusional right so that’s that’s sort of what I I focus on uh in terms of numbers because there’s not a lot of um quantitative numbers for real that I can look through and test sometimes and there’s also no consumers I can call necessarily and ask sometimes you know is this solving your pain Point what we can do is try to understand if they would be interested but testing the product is further down the line sometimes.
Jeffery: And that’s a good point that when it comes to cpg products and they’re in going through production and testing the products it’s hard to kind of figure out other than again making some quick calls as you said and just say is this something that you would be interested in and and maybe having them test the product as well and you are taking a lot more risk at that stage and I find that you know as an early stage investor I find that on that cpg side that’s kind of exciting as well in a way you’re almost doing sales for the team that you’re potentially going to invest in to find out if there’s a market shelf space for for the product but I I do see that you know projections are going to be there and then kind of as you start to work with the founders do you start to push more financial side and make them more accountable to this especially as the company grows is it driving them to being more um Net Zero or is it trying to to get them to be just leaner at the beginning like is there certain metrics that you can push Founders to to say here’s what I would suggest it’ll keep you lean it’ll keep you more more in line of where you’re going instead of always having to chase the next raise.
Beatriz: Yeah I Lucky in the sense was a craziness last year and you know hype and valuations really high and all of that for the most part I think our our Founders are not spending money um really nearly like they are really thinking about it and some of them are even thinking about you know maybe I should raise a little more now to to extend my Runway not not even needing it so kind of in a good position to talk about it so um yeah so so I haven’t seen any major issues in that sense but what I look for is okay you had some milestones in your head that you want to get until your next raise um how far are you from that and how much is that gonna cost and and sometimes you see people uh creating projections with assumptions that were not tested so yeah so then we’re gonna have the scale and whatever we’re gonna do with a co-manufacturer and but have you spoken to them have you checked how much they need in terms of a minimum size for their runs have you do you know how much it costs like you know so so we look for more in the very beginning there’s a lot of things that you can ignore because there’s a focus on getting the product to a stage that it exists right but as you go further and further along you want to see how far are they going from the milestones and how close are they getting into like more real numbers so so yeah so definitely look at that.
Jeffery: And I like that you brought up some of the things that they may not always think of and there’s you mentioned a couple from uh co-manufacturing and understanding minimum runs in your cogs I think these are all important and then adding in other things which could be insurance and other kind of staple pieces of a business and helping them better understand it before they actually get into that race so they know that what the amount they should be raising to protect themselves at least to get off the ground.
Beatriz: Yeah for sure
Jeffery: And when uh when you start making those kind of Investments and taking this I guess rounding all of this up to to get to where you are today do you find that especially when you were um you joined the the female fun side are you finding that you’re able to get more people interested in this space because that you’re in it and because you started to take a more appreciated look from your background and of course from being a CEO in in this space as well
Beatriz: Yeah so there is a a challenge that I keep running against when talking to people about food Tech right and they think it comes from a misconception um a lot of people think that investing in food Tech is changing the way they eat and that that could be you know food is very personal very cultural very it’s almost like a religion right so so there’s this um I always try to avoid you know I always try to go over like we’re not trying to recreate the food system we’re trying to solve for the problems that the food system has and anything we invest in at Veda has to be something that is not asking for a consumer compromise right we’re making it easy to switch we’re making it easy to increase or or you know there’s no like oh now you should stop doing this like we we’re not doing that at all and I don’t think uh food Tech is about that at all it’s about having better solutions that use less natural resources less footprint um that it is the same as what people are looking for right that’s that’s the and that goes for materials as well so if you’re thinking of alternative leather same thing because thinking of
packaging sustainable packaging same thing you’re not going to give something that you know melts while you’re you’re sharing it and just because it’s more sustainable like that’s not the idea right we really want to give something that’s exactly the same functionality if it’s food the same taste um everything that people are expecting and that’s why we’re thinking it can actually have an impact because we’re not telling everybody now to to stop doing whatever they’re doing right that’s not that’s not the goal.
Jeffery: It’s interesting that you have to have that type of conversation when every day it’s in the news on how this Parts down and this agriculture is having this issue and potash has slowed down and we’re not getting any because of the war in Russia so it is fascinating that even with the amount of information out there that you still kind of have to figure skate around it to get them to the same spot where you know that could take years if they think that you’re being more um uh I don’t know if it’s obtuse to the problems or however you’re trying to face it to them but I don’t know I kind of is it’s confusing you would think that they would be all for it I need this let’s go climate’s changing we need to do something.
Beatriz: Yeah it’s a total need to have right not a nice to have but I do think that if you if you look I think that’s why food Tech Investments were lagging behind other climate Tech Investments um if you see and and rightly so a lot of Investments go into renewable energies electric cars that was what people had in mind but that’s a much easier ask right from people if you think about it it’s not their personal I can’t even explain how but it gets to a point that people feel like invaded right when you’re talking about food and you have to talk more about it explain more and then figure oh actually that’s a great idea but it takes that conversation at first to to get to that when you’re talking about renewable energy you don’t need to go through that process or electric cars you don’t you know maybe you say yes there will be charging stations in your garage and whatever and it’ll make it easy but it’s a it’s not a personal conversation as much you know.
Jeffery: Interesting that as you said it’s a more personal thing even though I think it seems more like a financial issue where you’re betting and hedging that moving everything to Electric is better and now they’re coming out with so much content sharing how that one battery took uh four billion tons of uh Cobalt and every other thing to make and now everybody’s probably thinking wait a second I thought this was supposed to make things better and now it’s not and so you know does do people hopefully gain enough knowledge where they start to question everything in the same fashion because no one questioned this until it became the biggest industry selling a quarter of the cars that anybody else is and now there’s more questions than there are answers around uh how this is even sustainable or how this is even valuable to the to the to the world so it is uh an interesting piece I guess that you have to deliberate around and how you’re pitching people through and and getting them to uh to a line up to this.
Beatriz: Yeah yeah definitely
Jeffery: So with the um with the the business that you jumped into and you became the CEO of and you took over and operated um has this really given also a lot of Leverage to yourself to the the founders because now you can really share a lot more again not that you needed more things to be able to relate to a Founder with from uh legal and uh Finance but now also from a startup perspective you’re like the ultimate investor.
Beatriz: Yeah it is you know it is different to being the same shoes um and and feel the pull and the push
from every direction um feel responsible for a team um it’s not just yourself or your career anymore it’s like a whole company uh feel responsible for your investors feel respect it’s like a lot of responsibilities and and it’s all at once and people say it’s a very lonely position and it’s not a joke it is um so I I don’t know I feel like empathy not that I lacked empathy before but became even stronger and just understanding like there will be days that you can think of everything just focus on what you’re doing that’s okay and there will be days that you can actually look from a big bigger picture and think about the strategy but it won’t be every day so I don’t ask the founders to be ready for these things every day or every time I want to talk to them I understand right now they’re preparing for this customer trial and that’s all their time and leave them alone and then you know when that’s done we’re going to talk about what’s next and the strategy and what can we do to help right but you also need to know when help can be a you know a burden on them so you can actually take your you
know take a step back and say go do your thing if you need me I’m here if not let’s talk in whatever many you know weeks months or whatever it is.
Jeffery: For sure and you mentioned something that really stands out there which is being reliable when as the CEO and you’re kind of stepping into that reliability position and making sure that people can lean on you and you’re working as a team and growing to that extent now fast forward to coming onto the other side of the table and being the investor is there learnings that you push back and say look I understand I’ve been there but you got to invest with people on a monthly basis you got to let your investors know what’s going on your team update them every day work with your team be open leave your schedule open for them like are there things that you take as a founder and think you know I
could have been better at this so I’m going to push this to the founders as well because you know again outside of our the normal things that you bring to the table this one’s pretty powerful because now you’re aligning completely with that founder and you can understand both sides of the table so you’re you’re coming in from the investor side said no look I didn’t do this very well and yeah
if we’re going to work together we really need to see this is that something that you also push on.
Beatriz: Yeah I I think there are a couple of things um one is know when to ask for help uh not one is further down the line and maybe too late sometimes um ask in advance and ask specifically not just like oh we’d love to have your help like think about what are the things you need ask for those specific things even if that person is not the right person to help you if they are you know your partner and a good investor they will find someone who is right so so that would be number one number two is I think you need to of course when you’re just a few people um everything even the bigger problems get solved easier but as you grow you really need to think about culture and you really need to think about what it is and what it isn’t right you need to make sure that whoever is joining is joining with the same mindset and it’s there and for the long run that will be hiring mistakes obviously everybody makes those but um if you’re very clear about what you’re about and you’re very good at communicating um regularly as you said I think you have a better chance of having you know a team behind you to to get it done.
Jeffery: I like that the know when to ask for help and be specific I think that if we were to put a title to the podcast now that’s what I would put to it because it is so significant um I’m finding that a lot of Founders and I’m not sure if it’s they’re afraid to ask for help or they don’t feel the channel is open or they think they can correct it faster before so they never have to ask but I think that that is by far the biggest thing that I see as well is um how do you get Founders to feel engaged enough to ask those questions and when and being able to be upfront about it and not be worried is it uh we need to go to the bar and get drunk so there were buddies or is it um you know we need to do more socializing and get out and do other things because you need to have that Bond like what is it that gets somebody to open up and share what really is happening before it’s hey I’m failing the whole company tomorrow what we’ve had months to talk what happened so like what is is there something that you found that is the maybe the secret sauce to this that kind of gets Founders more comfortable to say something beforehand is it coaching and like asking little specific questions that open the door a little bit like what is it that you found gets them to be more engaged in this process.
Beatriz: Worked for me one thing that I realized that works really well is to show that I’m thinking about them so if I see an article that has something related that they might like I just I just sent that I just say like oh thought about you look at this um if I have that touch point every now and then and they say I’m thinking about them and I care about them or I come up with an idea there was one company I didn’t even invest in but I um maybe one day I will but I I sent to them an opportunity of there’s this show I don’t know if you’ve seen hot ones that they do um they interview people while they’re
eating like very awesome yeah so I thought I was like you know there are some celebrities they’re going to be interviewing that can’t eat real chicken maybe you should have give or chicken there um and I know they contacted them but I don’t know if they went anywhere but just the point of view sort of thinking about them coming up with random ideas whatever it is and just sending them messages every now and then I think opens up the door for them to ask you things as well right so so that’s something I’ve been doing and it’s natural it’s not like I forced myself to I just really something pops up and I think about them I just send it to them an opportunity.
Jeffery: Now that’s great do you think maybe even if you uh this might be going to the extreme but in the conversation then just sharing oh I did this once do you think like that type of thing also uh shows that both sides are human so that things can be engaging it takes.
Beatriz: Power Dynamic I invested in you situation and now I want you to make me Rich kind of situation like this is a partnership right and and for for the most part I think people who are in the investor seat and chose to have this position I won’t say everybody’s like that but for the most part I think people who chose this position they’re really interested in what you’re doing they’re excited they think about it they read about it you know sometimes in their spare time it’s it’s exciting to me to hear more about what you’re doing and learn from you so as long as I can have this clear message where both humans and we have things to you know make it helpful and exciting for both of us let’s just talk you know let’s and reach out it’s door is open.
Jeffery: Now well put well shared um and now hopefully every founder listens to that and understands that hey it’s a it’s a two-way street and like you called it it’s a partnership and I think maybe sometimes they forget that and think it’s one-sided and we as the investor are sitting above or something when really it’s not it’s sitting beside them and just trying to help help them along at the same time so uh well shared I’m gonna dive just quickly into one of the hot topics and I was on a panel the other day in um Alexandria and it was on how to um how in this future world does do we continue to empower women and help them drive forward into all spaces uh of course in the startup world and in the investor side so now that um things that you’ve been doing in this space especially in the fun side and now investing throughout the last um five six seven years is there something that you’re seeing that’s changing a lot because you’re taking this route are you able to educate more women or are you able to get more women interested in the space because you’re becoming the leader of that I guess everybody sees you doing this you’re in a specific area which is Tech and food which is obviously a good thing so are other people trying to take this and and jump in as well and seeing this as an opportunity or is there still fear about going out and taking this type of step and investing in high risk areas what’s what have you kind of learned over the last little while since you’ve been part of this growing community.
Beatriz: Yeah so I I think uh there are some great communities for emerging managers uh women emerging managers uh transacts is one of them women BC is another one and and that has been really really helpful because it’s an open Channel you can ask questions and there’s no dumb questions you can ask anything and and you also feel like um support it right so so it’s like ah it’s something like operational or something whatever like you know you can share all these things and one helps the other and I think that communities like that make it easier for anybody to take the plunge and and do it right I also I I think for Founders um we were getting better and then a little worse after covid you know unfortunately bad news on that but I I feel like the more women investors they see the easier it is for them to feel um to get funded and to feel that you know they are where they should be because unfortunately there are there are our unconscious biases and and there is this thing of like investing in who looks like you kind of mentality and and you know if people are used to seeing successful Founders being um Mark Zuckerberg and young you know men white male whatever it’s not never going to change but if they start seeing successful women Founders then that becomes the face of a successful founder right so so it’s it’s a cycle it takes time um I I do see a lot I’m an optimist and I see a lot of changes um I think it’s going in the right direction I think it’s taking longer than we all wanted but um I see a lot of a lot of improvement.
Jeffery: It would be interesting to see if um and I know that it would be tough but one thing that was running through my head while I was on this panel um and it was a great panel by the way uh it was very um empowering liberating all these great things because there were so many people that were participating in it and but I think one thing that I would be curious of is when you do have this unconscious bias is that does it also follow suit when you’re segmenting people now and saying we only invest in women or if they do invest in everybody do they tend to invest in women as well only like meaning that they don’t want to just invest in women but they’re feeling the urge that they should or the maybe it’s guilt now because of the Forum that they’re being placed under um and like on the panel there was two sides there were women that were saying no I’m just investing in the best and I don’t care who you are what you are as long as you’re the best um and we got to stop doing this with women and everything else because everybody knows how to survive and we all need to push harder and be ourselves and just drive and and I thought that was commendable too because I think all sides play a part in this role to get more women entrepreneurs get more women investors and really driving it forward but I do see that there’s obviously going to be a long journey ahead for all people to come to this balance right it’s like your best friend can be a female your best as a male and those things are allowed which they don’t tend to have that very often because we’ve been taught differently or you know there’s so many things that have been built up in this world that um almost become red flags to preventing a lot of where we should be as humans where everybody treats each other as equals and we invest in each other as equals and we all support each other but again that like you said that could be a lot longer from now but in the journey that you’re on are you able to influence more women to invest because I would love to get more women on this podcast so I think that that would be a huge if you were able to do that.
Beatriz: Yeah I I think so um portfolio actually and I’m still part of it um portfolio has the mission of bringing more women to the cap table so even though it is a fund and the decisions are made by the partners there is this overlay of having like monthly pitch calls where the LPS can join and listen in and see our thought process on things we’re investing in and the idea is they will get excited about investing more you know and being angels and in different startups and things like that so I think there’s a lot of effort being done in that sense I I do believe in a balanced um I I think we need all of it I I do think we need some people just focus on that and be whatever minority we’re talking about there’s plenty that need some extra help because the more they can get funded and the more successful they can be the more the face of what a successful funder will change and that alone has huge impact right so I think we need that um but I also think we need to invest in the best and I think the way we do that at Veda we look at a team we’re not going to not invest because it’s not diverse by any means but we do care if the founding team cares about diversity even if they don’t have diversity I think you know if you if you know your best friend from you know whatever School you went to and that’s the expert you want and you want to start you know your two white male Founders that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get funded right and if you’re the best you should but if you realize that you need more diversity um that’s what we care about because we believe that diversity of thought makes better decisions if everybody agrees and everybody thinks the same chances are you’re gonna make worse decisions right so it’s it’s a good business decision to care about it but I wouldn’t say oh we have to see it especially day one like you know it just it needs to naturally happen um but you need to care about it from our standpoint.
Jeffery: I love it that’s a very well said I I do agree that because it can work on both sides and all parties and I have found that even in University uh you know the startup programs and things that they’re working on that and even across um companies that are coming out of University it’s a conscious mindset that they are trying to balance the business out right from the get-go and I think that that actually makes a big difference um sure maybe people that are um going and starting a company with their their friend and stuff like that that’s not something that you can just decide um I need to make a new friend that’s a female so I can start a business but I do see that it’s starting to really change and resonate with people that having that diversity is going to make your business more impactful having different opinions is going to make your business more impactful so I I think it’s almost getting to the point where you know in any business you operate in there’s such an equal balance or it’s getting to a pretty equal balance and you’re seeing the power of all people collaborating together at all stages makes a big difference in driving in a successful company so very well shared and I agree with that too I think it’s very um positive for the future.
Beatriz: Yeah if it’s a smaller scale right so at our fund it’s just um me and my partner britter right she’s used to looking at business models that are you know on the digital side software and have early revenues and behave a certain way um when she look when I talk to investors that invest in my side we’re known to no early revenues and we don’t ask certain questions right she will come in and she you know our secret sauce is we need to convince each other to vote you know yes for the investment so that’s already diversity of thought and you know if you look at us on paper we’re not that different and you know we are and resilient is America but you know I’m saying we’re still two women right but it’s diversity of thought and it challenges you and it makes you a better investor a better person in general you know.
Jeffery: Agreed agreed pretty exciting uh well we’re going to transition now because I’m sure we can keep talking I have a million more questions but really it um we’d be on here for many many hours going through all the different scenarios but I do see that um what you guys are building is pretty awesome and I think the collaboration works of course and pushing this down to the startups educating them and educating investors along the way it’s uh it’s pretty amazing model and I’m sure it’s going to keep paying dividends in the future and hopefully not only do we have more female Founders we can increase the amount of female investors I think that that’s uh pretty pretty huge because I do think that when a Founder looks up at the stage or looks in the future to someone that they want to have participate in their business they also wanted to make sure that it’s not 20 dudes on their board or 20 dudes on their cap table when it could be pretty much Diversified so I think that that’s something that we’re all shooting for and I think that makes the world a better place too so so now we transition into the storytelling side where you get to share a story or a use case of what it takes to be an entrepreneur as so I’m going to turn it over to you but yeah looking forward to hearing um what you think it takes to be a founder and and maybe um a story that resonates with you that um she or he really just dominated and did some great stuff.
Beatriz: It’ll be a little crazy to begin with because it’s a huge risk and it’s a not a one-year thing right it’s a long-term thing and you’re gonna have ups and downs you’re gonna have lots of challenges you might have to Pivot at some point who knows and you need to be ready for that um so so yeah you need to be a little crazy but you also need to have a very good idea in the sense that it’s fixing a real need it’s not just a nice thing to have but it’s really needed right and it’s a big market so all of those things that we know about and I don’t need to you know go through them but I think those are very important you also need to have a certain personality I think because um you have to have a mix of being ambitious and and have you know hunger for it but you need to be humble at the same time you need to know when to ask for help you need to be realistic you need to be patient so it’s a certain personality right that that should fit with that one one founder you asked me to highlight one one founder that we invested recently in um it’s it’s food Tech but it’s more from the sense of the material so using its alternative leather um we invested in the name of the company is called Tom tax she she’s Vietnamese it’s a woman founder she actually grew up in Vietnam and saw how you know the leather industry polluted her town and and how the workers were had problems you know with Disease by being because it was toxic and things like that so it was very personal to her she did end up going into fashion school at some point so it went full circle and then she started a company that is doing alternative leather out of shellfish waste which is you know amazing they have an amazing product and one thing that they they it’s it’s a three people team at the moment um and and I love all of them the the whole team is is really great and one thing that I thought was really cool is that you mentioned this earlier in the podcast where you said you know we’re fixing one problem but we’re finding another problem uh with the battery so that’s happening in alternative materials as well because a lot of the alternative letters that were coming up from plants or whatever was had plastic backing on them which solves one problem but creates another right and they were very from the beginning they really wanted to not have plastic and make it you know very strong and and and same functionalities but not creating another problem so so I thought that was really interesting and and they you know stuck with that and they got to that and now they’re at a point that they’re you know starting some customer trials so so that to me was really really exciting to see.
Jeffery: Wow that’s a great story and I love the fact that they’re challenging themselves along the way and they’re not just creating another byproduct and just saying ah too bad we’ll fix that problem later I think that’s awesome we we had um I remember a story with uh one of one of our um Founders and he said I I’m I’ve been dealing with this challenge of the product that we put in our package and if I go with this version it costs this much and if I go with the one that’s non-sustainable it costs half that and no we’re we’re a startup and we’re trying to figure it out and you know I in my mind I when we shared I said you know you got to start somewhere and work your way up you have to get to that point and I said but you know there’s those are tough questions on how do you maintain the business that you want without um totally choking yourself from the get-go and then we kind of left the conversation at that and then after I thought about it and I sent back a message said you know what just stick to your guns Go Go full on make it 100 the way you needed to people will see what you’re building they’re going to get excited along the way and you’ll tackle that extra problem when you get there but you know don’t don’t beat yourself up over something that is around cost stick to your guns you’re doing this to be sustainable be sustainable and work from there and um so yeah there’s a ways to cut the corner there’s ways to just do it right and I appreciate the the doing it right so that’s pretty amazing on what they did so fantastic story I’m building up my story repertoire so I could share these as well but that one’s awesome all right we’re going to go into rapid fire questions we’re almost there we’re getting there um all right from the founder side or the investor Side Story You’re gonna pick one or the other ready to roll.
Jeffery: All right founder or co-founder
Beatriz: Founder co-founder I’m not gonna miss Jeffrey
Jeffery: Uh you get to pick if you would like if you’re investing would you do you want co-founders to invest in first or would you rather invest in one founder
Beatriz: Yeah Co-Founder
Jeffery: Okay unicorn or for year 10x exit
Beatriz: Depends I’m you know my lawyer side is going to come here and it all depends but I’ll say let’s say unicorn for now
Jeffery: Nice uh Tech or cpg
Jeffery: AI or blockchain
Jeffery: First time founder or second third time founder
Beatriz: A great idea so first time founder
Jeffery: Okay first money in or series A
Beatriz: First money
Jeffery: Angel or VC
Jeffery: Board seat or Observer
Beatriz: Board Seat
Jeffery: Lead or follow
Beatriz: For both but let’s go with lead
Jeffery: I love it all right favorite part of investing
Beatriz: Changing the Status dedicated to that solution it’s very exciting
Jeffery: Okay and I know you talked about this before but vertical is a focus areas that you tend to want to invest in versus oh sorry where the fund wants to invest versus where you personally invest I guess would be the easier one to share it
Beatriz: It’s both actually the same so food science biotech software and Next Generation materials
Jeffery: Love it two qualities of startup needs in order to stand out to you
Beatriz: So while we talked about the the right team right on your real need
Jeffery: I like it these are two kind of sub questions why invest in food Tech now
Beatriz: So we are at an inflection point for alternative products and we have the push from the technology side being as cheap as it’s ever been um if you think about the cost to read and write DNA
it was in the 90s like 2.7 billion to do the first human genome no it’s like a thousand dollars so the same thing to happen with computer processing and speed and and price is happening now
um behind you know biotech so I so I feel like this is the right time and there’s people who want to buy it so now is the time we’re very bullish.
Jeffery: Perfect last question on the business side you see this Market correction affecting companies coming into this space because it does cost a bit more so do you see that affecting the number of startups that are coming to the Forefront or do you think that there’ll be more or how do you see that kind of going forward.
Beatriz: So we don’t see the market correction earlier stages that you see more on the growth stage in pre-fpo but we do see some valuations coming down I don’t think that’s a bad thing for anybody not for the entrepreneur not for the investor because it was kind of not logical last year so now it’s coming
down to a point that is more logical and I think that gives entrepreneur more time to reach their Milestones so they don’t get crushed when they get into growth right so thinking about down rounds and other things like that so so far it’s been a good thing for us and for the entrepreneurs I would support.
Jeffery: Perfect okay we’re gonna jump into the personal side all right most famous person that pops in your mind
Beatriz: Warren Buffett
Jeffery: Perfect book or movie
Beatriz: What’d you say sorry
Jeffery: Book book
Beatriz: Um book
Jeffery: Wonder Woman or Robin says
Beatriz:I was like three years old
Jeffery: Nice I thought she was pretty cool back then too uh restaurant or picnic
Jeffery: Five minutes with Basils or Oprah
Beatriz: Different reasons uh probably Bezos
Jeffery: Uh this is it we can’t do this even I want to hang out with Oprah
Beatriz: I don’t know I feel like I have so many questions um understand the I don’t know understand his thought process and it would be interesting conversation Oprah would be more entertaining though
Jeffery: Do you think do you think from the question and and I like the way he approached it do you think that because Oprah is so much in the public eye that there seems to be less mystery and questions that you can ask whereas Bezos has been more in the background and yes he’s built a large company so there’s more reason to want to ask questions because he’s not so public
Beatriz: That could be but I also think it relates more to what I’m doing now so I have more you know desire to ask questions right now I think maybe if you ask me this a long time ago my answer would be different.
Jeffery: I like it Beecher Mountain
Jeffery: Bike or run
Jeffery: Big Mac or Chicken McNugget
Beatriz: Uh Big Mac
Jeffery: Trophy or money
Beatriz: Um everything depends what is what are the trophies for uh let’s go with money because we’re guaranteed
Jeffery: All right first brand that pops in your mind
Beatriz: First brand Apple
Jeffery: Apple gets they’re like 80 percent um camera or mobile phone
Beatriz: mobile phone
Jeffery: Clean or Rich
Beatriz: Clean I don’t want the responsibility of a queen
Jeffery: Concert or amusement park
Beatriz: Amusement park
Jeffery: Fortune cookie or birthday cake
Beatriz: Fortune cookie on a cake person
Jeffery: Ted talk or book reading
Beatriz: Book reading
Jeffery: Tick Tock or Instagram
Beatriz: Believe it or not neither
Jeffery: Nice Facebook or LinkedIn
Beatriz: It’s not on Facebook either it’s a LinkedIn
Jeffery: I like it favorite movie and what character would you play
Beatriz: My favorite movie is that’s the character you know a crazy spy that knows all the martial arts and all the languages many passports that would be my favorite
Jeffery: That that’s that’s I watched that one maybe about a year ago the whole trilogy from again from top to bottom so big fan yup agreed uh favorite book
Beatriz: I can’t answer that I have a lot of different ones and depends on when you ask but one that was very eye-opening to me it’s huge and it takes forever it’s called the gene it was very interesting I recommend it.
Jeffery: The gene all right looking into it I like it all right
Beatriz: But there’s a whole bunch that I really like favorite sports team
Jeffery: Yeah they’re okay laughs all right last two questions we’re almost there what is the meaning of success to you
Beatriz: Success to me is to be doing still have time for a real personal life
Jeffery: Awesome last question what is your superpower
Beatriz: My superpower should have prepared me for that one back um I think is communicating um we’ll see if my husband agree with that one um I do like to you know reach to the other side of the table and make sure we’re getting to a compromise or a solution that everybody wins right um that’s something I like to do.
Jeffery: It does come across that um your your superpower is being on the communication side but I think it also is probably because of your background being diplomatic I would think that most legal people and financial people want to come to some form of agreement in order to make things work so you do seem to come across that way as being amicable and getting to the midpoint and making things happen so I want to say Beatrice it was amazing chatting with you thank you very much for all of your time you were awesome and I’m I’m hoping that we’ll get to have many more of these conversations in the future and what I would share is that we like to give you the last word so anything that you want to share to the investor Community to the startup Community I turn it over to you but thank you very much again I took a million notes and uh again thank you it’s awesome .
Beatriz: Thank you um seeing more Innovation I want to see everybody embracing it and I think we can do this together we don’t have to be um against it like it’s time for us to get together and move forward.
Jeffery: Well shared time to embrace the food Tech side of things and help the planet because it’s taken a beating over the years for sure perfect thank you again Beatriz amazing.
Beatriz: Thank you likewise
Jeffery: Okay Beatriz was brilliant that was awesome uh so many good touch points yeah so many things that um Beach was shared that I want to jump on I like the one where she says that you have to be a little crazy to be a Founder I’m gonna say you need to be a lot crazy I used to use the terminology that you had to be almost psychotic uh and everybody said that wasn’t a good term so I like crazy but I also think that if you tie crazy in with having a fifth gear you’ve got the personality that needs to be a Founder because it takes a lot um you know she mentioned needed a good fit um personality reliability where other factors that really make a big difference from being an investor being reliable again to your team into everything else that’s going on know when to ask for help and be specific um culture was another one that was brought up that was really good and you know from the legal side she shared that the parade of Horrors when it came to the legal side in business so that was pretty fascinating uh terminology to hear and of course blind spots projections Partnerships so many good things that were shared and I want to say thank you very much for for sharing all that uh we’re uh we’re pretty excited to be able to get that um deep analysis and understanding of the food Tech space so uh beaches we appreciate that and thank you again everyone for joining us today if you’ve enjoyed this conversation please feel free to share with your friends or subscribe to our YouTube channel follow us on Spotify Apple podcast and or Stitcher feel free to share an audio or video clip around um our show and we may include it in one of our future podcasts find us at marketing openpeoplenetwork.com your support and comments are truly appreciated you can also check us out at supportersfun.com or for startup events visit openpeoplenetwork.com thank you and have a fantastic day.
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