Managing Partner and Co-Founder at Her Capital

"You know, close to 90% of all purchases made have a woman behind the decision making."

- Tanya Rolfe

Tanya outlines what she looks for in a start-up

Talk Takeaways

Tanya Rolfe talks about HerCapital and their mission to tap into overlooked female founders & capture the potential for superior returns. Tanya shared their process, what they look for in a startup, and how they plan to empower female founders.

About

Tanya founded the Ladies Investment Club in Singapore in 2017.

Eager to enter the world of venture, she established a team of 40 female investors providing hard to access funding to female founders. Tanya has a track of building investor teams to provide the right combination of skills required to support founders. Tanya has invested in 6 startups during the 2.5 years she managed the Ladies Investment Club and sits on multiple advisory boards. She has experience of working within portfolio companies and pivoting businesses.

Prior to founding the Ladies Investment Club, Tanya had a 15-year legal career at some of the world’s largest law firms. Tanya spent 7 years in Real Estate legal teams before moving into M&A legal management at both Simmons & Simmons and Norton Rose Fulbright in London. Tanya’s strengths lie in identifying exceptional talent, building strong business relationships with startup founders, without compromising her judgement and applying logic to solving problems.

The full #OPNAskAnAngel talk

Jeffery:
All right. Well, we’ve already started, so I guess we’ll just jump right into it. So thank you very much, Tanya, for joining us today at Open People Network or Ask an Angel. And I’m really excited today to chat with you, Tanya. Because I wonder groundbreaking, doing a lot of great things. Very excited to dive into the conversation. But maybe to start just to kind of paved the way, Maybe you could give us a little bit of a background like yourself. Kind of where you’ve come from from the legal side, all the way up to kind of what you’re doing today. And then we’ll just kind of jump in and start firing off questions.

Tanya:
Sure, sure. Thank you for having me good to be here on day. I’m Tanya, based in Singapore, on managing partner at her capital, which is a venture capital fund focused on women founders on. We focus on women across Southeast Asia. We — I’m originally from the UK from London and I’ve been in Singapore for about four years now. And I originally moved here for no other reason than I didn’t like the cold weather. And Singapore definitely doesn’t have any cold weather. So I’ve definitely found my calling. This is where I should have been born. But we do sometimes miss that. But yes, I started out my career in law firms both in London and in Sydney. And I was in law firm about 15 years, lastly, in the M&A legal teams. And when I moved to Singapore, I it felt like a great time to relaunch myself. Really on then That’s when I first started out on my investment journey on Launched a — started Off with an Angel network, sort of a female lead and female focused angel network. And then that’s evolved into Her capital this year.

Jeffery:
That’s awesome. Is this, um I’m just trying to remember now is the Singapore structure. That’s the one you started in 2017. That’s the Angel group.

Tanya:
So in 2017, I started Ladies Investment Club, which was 40— it started with just me on then eventually was 40 women self funded women supporting other women on then in 2020, so in the middle of our pandemic, that we’ve got going on launched Her capital as the institutionalized funds This is our very first fund.

Jeffery:
Okay, Very cool. Yeah, I was gonna I was curious as to how the ladies investment clubs started in. What was the premise behind that? So you’re saying that it started off with you? So there’s 40 women. Is 40 women globally or is it 40 women in Southeast Asia? And you’re focusing on women founders in Southeast Asia?

Tanya:
Yes. So it so when I came to Singapore and I decided to give up my working in law, I sort of wracked my brains for a while, and I actually had two very small Children. I had two Children under 18 months of age, So I, um So I was giving myself a bit of a breathing space and trying to work out what I wanted to do. But I knew that it wasn’t working in a big corporate law firm with ridiculous hours. So instead, I work for myself with ridiculous hours. I set up Ladies Investment Club because I made an investment personally in Singapore. And really enjoyed it was my first ever, like, you know, dipping my toes into the sort of business world. Because when what you find with a lot of lawyers and people that work in big big for accountancy firms or big legal firms there rather institutionalized and not always particularly commercial, they’re very rigid, these big corporate. So you know, you have a department to do everything, so you become an expert in your little area, but that there’s so much support and rigidity to the structure is not very entrepreneurial. So I really enjoyed like it was just It was so interesting for me. Actually, the big Corporates weren’t particularly my place because I’m a bit of a rule breaker, a bit of a rebel, I guess. On so, the rigidity of big corporate was very oppressive, much like this pandemic. And I started to Invest. And I was doing that on my own. And what I really missed is people, because one of the best thing about working in a big corporate is that you’ve got huge amounts of people around you we did have when we were all in offices. And I actually really miss that. So that’s why I grew the team. That’s why I thought, I don’t want to do this on my own, I want to be surrounded by smart people, preferably smarter than me. And I which isn’t that is hard to do on so I did that. Found almost 40 women to invest wanted to support other women on what we learned from doing that was that in Southeast Asia there’s a huge amount of women led companies that are fantastic and and really, really the types of businesses that we wanted to support. But obviously as an angel network, it was very challenging to support every business because it was our own money. So the, you know, there was a finite amount of money available. And in addition, we wanted to be able to give bigger check sizes. And when you look at the data, it tells us that for women, when they’re raising capital actually gets harder at every stage that the raise capital. And so if we were just giving that sort of seed capital, which is what we were doing under Ladies Investment Club, sort of crossing our fingers and hoping for the best, wasn’t really good enough because where were are female founders going? In Southeast Asia, over three quarters of venture capital funds have no women in them at all in decision making roles. And so there was nowhere for them to go after us. So what we identified was that we wanted to do bigger check sizes and also be with our founders for a couple of funding rounds. So now in Her capital, the idea is is that we were there for Pre-Seed, we can do seed funding and we could do up to series A funding. So it means that we’re not sort of just sending them on their merry way and hoping for the best. And it also allows us as a fund to build relationships with other larger funds to pass them on to — introduce them to and try to forge relationships with taking them on beyond where we’re able to go to.

Jeffery:
That’s awesome. So you’re you’re really grooming, working with the early stage companies, um, specifically in the female founders space, and then you’re pushing them up streams. You’re able to get some of those Series A and beyond companies to start investing in B. C s to see them because you guys have helped structure them and get them to a place where they’ve got great MRR ARR and now they could build more interest as they get further upstream.

Tanya:
Yes, exactly.

Jeffery:
Yeah, that’s awesome. So there was There was one thing I kind of wanted Thio go back on in touch on just based on your career and how much this impacts what you’re doing. Now, Um, I’ve had this e guess I’ve seen and heard and had this discussion a few times. But it’s interesting because on the legal side, um, there’s a whole different structure on how legal people operate and function in the world. And what I mean by that is that you said it right In the beginning, you work a lot of hours. You put a lot of time in working with clients, closing deals, pushing deals through. It doesn’t matter. Whatever stream you come in, there’s just a lot of time going into, um, manifesting and building up where this client’s going and how they’re taking that forward. So and there’s a lot of hustle in growing clients and building up there — Your portfolio within that client, how much of that structure that you spent 15 years working through? How much of that do you transfer into helping these startups kind of get on the ground and realize like, you need to work that client you need to work with them, you need to help them better understand what they’re trying to get into here so that you can grow your MRR grow over time. Is any of that kind of hustle in long hours transfer into what you’re working with on these female founder sides?

Tanya:
So for the last, for my last 10 years in working in law firms, I was actually on the on the business management side. So I moved into more like an operational role of the corporate departments. But what I would say is that, and that actually was pretty useful skill set wise with what I’m doing now. But what I would say is that I didn’t always find lawyers to be particularly smart with their time. And so, I found there was an awful lot of presentism and a lot of badge of honor for how many hours you’ve worked that week.You know how close toe, you know, breaking point Have I pushed myself this week and I’m just gonna wear that as a badge of honor and I’m gonna walk around the office and everyone else is going to give me kudos for that. And actually, they did. And that was the environment. And I don’t think that that’s that’s a healthy environment. I didn’t think it was at the time pre-COVID and certainly not now. And I suspect a lot more people are aware of that work life balance. And that was in London and Sydney that happened.I always thought when I looked Australia, I was like, I’m gonna be on the beach by 3 p.m. I’m gonna be, you know, a beach bum. I’ve never worked harder when I was in Sydney, actually. And so what I have taken away from that into my second career, I guess, which is is the fund is that you don’t I don’t believe I wasn’t seeing the best work from people that put in the most hours. And I know that traditional venture capital definitely has that Do you have the grit and the determination, and can you almost kill yourself? Because that’s the people we want to invest in. That’s not really who we want to invest in. And I think women generalizing statement here. But women do tend to be a little better at that. and care a little less about that badge of honor than I see men do. And I think that that for us mental well being, mental health and support, we’ve always acutely aware of our solo female founders, for example, the pressure, the sheer amount of pressure on the additional support that we want to give them, not because they are not good at execution and delivering on what they’re doing in their business, but because it’s really a lot of pressure on one person to be doing everything, and so we make sure that we’re we’re there for them in that way. So I’ve learned a lot about how not to do things from my law firm days for sure that I use in this and and and I apply to our founders as well. Because when I see some of our founders who say, Oh my goodness, I haven’t slept in this happened And now I’ve got to fly here, you know, pre-COVID, I’ve got to do this and whether it’s like. Okay — let’s actually I’m always a big fan of, like, paring back what is actually going to get you to the end. Like, what do you out to achieve? And then what is actually contributing to that and everything else You just need to cut. Of course. You know, I wanna fund that. I need to be doing regulatory three seminars to make sure the licenses in place. I need toe meet with founders. I need to fundraise. I need to interview interns. Is that you know, everyone wants to have a chit chat, you know, call me up just for a chat, and send me emails just for a chat. I can’t do all of that. I’ll kill myself. So I’m very, very strict with my time. What I can and can’t do. And I encourage our founders to do that too.

Jeffery:
No, I like that. And again, you take the learning that you have when you said you weed out the bad things and you try to put out the right things that are gonna help them be more successful because that’s the whole point of it. You’re managing your investment, your portfolio, your money, and them, and their mental health, and the growth of their business. The last thing you want to do is burn them out in three years, and then they failed because they just couldn’t keep going right. So I think that’s a smarter way of evaluating it and and working forward and through the legal side, I’ve had lots of friends, men and women, and you’re right, the badge. It’s not just legal, but software development its very same, and same with doctors like I’m not too sure people in the world do 24 hour shifts. But being able to do that and still function at 20 hours, being super effective is amazing. But I think that there is a breaking point for anything that you know what I could change my life and do something different, or I have to get out of this kind of hustle that’s working there.And how do you rope it down into a balance that allows for your outcomes to be more than your effort going in and you know that takes time, maneuverings and and obviously life changes to help that moved out

Tanya:
Yeah, agree,

Jeffery:
One of the every time I was like, quote wise. But I was thinking that I went and saw Huffington Post. The lady told Huffington Post.

Tanya:
Um, yes,

Jeffery:
Her name’s is totally blowing out of my mind on DIS was probably 15 years ago, and she she just had sold it. I believe it’s AOL. So she was doing a talk, and one of the things she said was, you need to slow down and stop working 20 hour days and take some time to focus. You’ll be able to build a stronger, better company, but learn how to hustle in a less aggressive way. And I think you’re right. There’s gotta be a point where a 12 hour or an 18 hour shift isn’t gonna change anything. It’s what I do in that first eight hours. So how do I make that 8 to 10 hours the most effective to move forward? And if I can do that to some startups, into some founders, then there’s some great learning in a great way to transfer knowledge.

Tanya:
Yeah.

Jeffery:
So now you’ve kind of you’ve taken a lot of this great background which I find exciting and you transferred it over your living in Singapore. So which is interesting that you’ve got a female founded and female run, I guess, investments investment firm into female founders. And you’ve gone into a space or countries that typically have, less aggressive people, male or female, even so, on the female side. And you’re trying to uplift them to be competitive against the rest of the market. I’ve had friends that spent years in different countries where, uh, they were trying to work with cultures to help them say, Hey, have a voice fight back against the government, fight back against people on you’re, kind of right in the thick of things. And you’re saying, Hey, I’m going to invest in you, but you need to step up, start pushing the notch. How are you finding that that’s working? And are you finding that you’re creating more of a voice? Or do you see that the Internets helping create a voice because that seemed to help everybody around the world have a bigger voice? So how are you finding that’s transferring across into into Asia?

Tanya:
Yeah, it’s very interesting. So I was down from London. My business partner, Gail, she’s Singaporean, so she helps me bridge that gap. And equally, we invest into European and North American founders too. So hopefully I’m, you know, able to do that in reverse for her. However we’re both obviously very worldly. She spent 10 years and working on Wall Street, and you know, so we both have that. And, I’ve been here four years, so I feel like we’re both well versed in the the the different cultures and Singapore is a huge melting pot. So when we — because we’re based in Singapore, it doesn’t mean all of our founders are Singapore, of course they’re from all over the world. And we look back at our portfolio now, we’ve probably got predominantly North American founders, and some Indonesian, Thailand, Vietnam on Singapore, and British. You know, a huge melting pot of everyone. But it’s very true to say that gender equality in Asia does not have the same meaning that it does to you in Canada and to me in London, and, rest of North America and the rest of Europe. So there’s definitely an education piece here. I I started out very, I would say, very reserved with my voice, which is not necessarily a natural thing for me to do, but I wanted to work out the lay of the land, and you’re absolutely right with women here. Do not have the voice that I’m used to having in Europe. But that said the women here are, you know, Singapore, I think has the highest ranked education system in the world, the best outcome academically speaking. So women are educated extremely well here, unlike other parts of Asia, where that’s still an issue. But here — so they have that. And they’re becoming more, more worldly, and I think more and more capable. And you’re right. The internet is definitely assisted with that. And I think Asia tends to look over towards the west at what is happening there and can see the writing on the wall. I see with the younger generation, for sure, the amount of interest I get from university students, female university students here in Singapore, wanting to just come and work for me Her Capital for free just because they believe in the mission. And they are not, there is nothing about them that is accepting off the status quo and that for me, I would say it’s probably the single most kind of reassuring on do you know, comforting thing that I have around my business because I see the younger generation. So I might deal with some 40 year old women that yeah, okay, they don’t have that voice that I would like them to have. But when I look at the twenty somethings or younger, they’ve got it in bucket loads. So that for me, is great. And I think that I think that they’re responding. I think if you give women particularly somewhere like Asia, the opportunity to have a voice or to listen, to engage in something that you might think is otherwise risky or risqué or, they’re not interested in, they just haven’t had that opportunity before. So for us coming along and saying, hey ladies were a venture capital fund, you’ve not had access to any capital. It’s all been, you know, 45, 50 year old men. Of course, you haven’t wanted to go knocking on their doors, but here we are. We’re going to represent you and we’re going to support you. It’s amazing how that lifts them. That kind of comforts them, and allows them that freedom to have their voice

Jeffery:
Well. So it’s a vote of confidence, right? And sometimes you just need a little bit of support from somebody else. And it probably does help that, well, you’ve got a great name for your fund. So it’s not hard to miss. It’s a great name, it really does emphasize on its strong — on the female founder side. And I think in today’s world, everybody always wants to have a little bit of support and a little bit of help wherever they’re going. I think that with the with the female movement and everything that’s going on around it, I think it’s perfect timing, of course, and it really does help put a lot of extra punch into the investment community to get behind your initiative, not just from you guys, but in general, I think that it opens up a lot more people to start looking at the space of female founders, and I think there’s some interesting stats have been looking at that are shifting a lot. But right now you’ve got give or take between 20 to 25% of female founders versus the 80 to 75% of male founders. And that’s slowly starting to change. Just like industries that were in medical, where it was all male dominate in the seventies and eighties, and now males make up like 5% of biotech and health tech, and it’s all been female dominated. So you’ll probably see the same thing in the next 5 to 10 years that it’ll pass that halfway mark and it will eventually surpass because there’s a lot of reasons I think you’ve stated a few in your past interviews and stuff that a lot of female founder companies generate more cash flow, they generate more value to customers and from the investments we made and including with females, I find that is true. I think that they’re a lot more methodical stuff that gets in behind the female founder which I think you talked about some of those before, which they may not have the voice but they’re meticulous. They know how to balance time. They’re multitaskers. So there’s so many great things that maybe people are too blind to put time into — to understanding different cultures, different people. But I think that that’s a real big plus on what you guys are looking for and really driving into that you’re getting a real full tool belt of somebody that has great experience that can really drive a business and make it profitable instead of just taking money and who knows what’s gonna happen?

Tanya:
Well, that’s right. When did, like I feel like in the last few years like running a profitable business became like a bit of Ah oh God, that’s not good, like that’s not what we want. Like whoa

Jeffery:
You need to burn cash, burn cash. You’re not burning it properly

Tanya:
Go raise some more, raise some more or increase that valuation. Yeah, It’s utter madness is what it is. It’s utter madness. And women do tend to build those businesses that are aimed at profitability, sustained profitability and and a moderate growth. And we back those businesses as much as we back those ones that you know are heading towards an IPOs. Oh, it’s about a mixed portfolio, but for me, that just means for me is the founder of Her Capital. Is that this is just a huge opportunity because, like, I feel like saying, Well, no one else is looking at this like this is like, why it’s such an obvious — and makes such great sense to back those businesses that are awesome businesses run by amazing, outstanding founders. But they’re not IPO material, but they are profitable. Growing businesses …

Jeffery:
That’s the key right there, you’re changing the storyline. And that’s what I love about this. Is that when you take most VCs, they say we’re looking for the next unicorn. So is always on the hunt for something unique and different, and I could turn it into unicorn myself, I’m not looking for a unicorn because one they don’t exist, and if they do great. What I’m looking for is sustainable businesses, ones that could grow that want extra capital. They could grow faster if they need it. But they’re diligent, they understand the model, they’re pivoting there on the market. They’re psychotic about their space. But they’re growing into be a profitable company. Because if in 5 10 years that company doesn’t sell, they’re still gonna be a $50 million company generating revenue, generating profit, and they’re going to start buying other companies. That is the way an economic model could work and be sustainable. And if 50% or 70% of those are women run, even better, because then they’re gonna build in other elements that are gonna make this sustainable and all the other great elements they’re gonna tie into it and they’re still gonna be competitiveness. But at least these companies can sell or grow, and they’re not always going to be constrained to just gobs of money to support themselves on

Tanya:
Women tend to build teams that are more diverse as well. Diversity leads to better profitability. So they hire more women in leadership roles as well. But the biggest thing for me is that no one else is is looking at this space. So I have access to the best of these deals and t just feels like such an arbitrage opportunity, I would say first.

Jeffery:
So there’s a Women in Tech, WIT, by the BBC. It’s $200 million fund allocated just for women in tech founders, so you might want to reach out to them. I was actually talking to BBC today. So I’ve known about it because they run different conferences and they have the RBC Women in Tech, Center or section. But this would be a great connection for you guys because they only do Canadian companies. But that might open up the door for co-investments and everything else you’ve got lot of cash that they’re just investing in female founders. So on. I think the more that you get driving in there, the more value you’re gonna build from that ecosystem.

Tanya:
Yeah. Okay. Good tip.

Jeffery:
So now, with the companies that you’re investing and you said that you’re globally making the investments, I’d love to kind of learn a little bit more on how does that process work? Obviously you’ve got people coming in, startups coming in globally, what makes the decision to say you know what I want to invest in this company in Sri Lanka vs in Australia? What’s the driving force behind Making these investments? And then do you have to do anything to secure them? How does that process work?

Tanya:
So actually, we have our mandate is approximately 80% of our fund, Southeast Asia. And so majority of our businesses are here where we are but we do allow ourselves a 20% opportunistic investing in North America, Australia and Hong Kong. And it’s purely because off where we’ve seen a lot of the talent come from in our former life under the Ladies Investment Club. So we want to be able to invest there because we particularly like to invest in female health and wellness products. And so they tend to come from outside South East Asia. Come from those three places in particular. Because female health, anything to do with periods, fertility, menopause, sexual wellness, sexual pleasure, anything like that doesn’t come from Southeast Asia. Typically, those three places where we’ve identified most of the talent and innovation —

Jeffery:
You’re forgetting, so sorry, you’re forgetting Canada.

Tanya:
Yes. Sorry. Did I say USA? I meant North America, North America.

Jeffery:
I just got some companies for you so this is good.

Tanya:
Yeah. Yeah. North America as a as a as a whole is where we’re focused. We’ve actually due diligence a few companies in Canada. So definitely. So yeah, I actually lead our fundraising efforts, and my business partner, Gail, she leads off investments because of her investment banking background. So that’s a kind of her sweet spot. But in terms of our process, we tend to invest in three key areas. On that is female consumer and consumer technology. We invest in social impact, and we invest in sort of a generalist tech. And that could be anything from from education technology, child technology, Iegal tech, fintech. But really, where the bulk of our investments lie are in the female consumer and consumer technology, female health space. This is what really gets us going. Because women, as you know, the purchasing power of women is just astronomical. You know, close to 90% of all purchases made have a woman behind the decision making. So, as women GPs, we invest in women founders who in turn, are investing in women consumers. We all are those people. We understand who we’re targeting because we are those people. So that’s kind of our logic to this on female health is particularly underserved when you look at research and the investment, you know, and I get it like if you’re a team of 34 male VCs which most VC funds are on, woman walks in and she’s got this amazing fertility tracking, you know, innovation. It’s like, well, what? I don’t know. Like What? How? I don’t blame them. You know, I would find it extremely hard to invest in something that is very, very male focused,

Jeffery:
Because that might just be a little bit of a shortcoming and probably the wrong group to go after if, like anything else. If you’re not a VC and you’re not exploring and opening up doors and talking to doctors and talking to other people to find out if this is a good coming to invest in in a good product, then they’re not even doing their own job. So they should probably just leave that room in the first place because that’s gallow to not be able to explore or understand. If you’re a generalist investor, then you’re really doing a terrible job.

Tanya:
But I guess, I agree. But I guess I and what I’m saying is I understand that takes a lot of extra work when we come across a deal that’s in a space where we’ve never invested before. We have to think very carefully about, do we have the capacity here to really dive deep into an industry that we’ve not invested in versus if we invest into another — if we invest into an STI home testing kit or something like that, we kind of have done that before. We understand the space. We’re not experts, but we understand that space.

Jeffery:
(Inaudible) So the last thing you do is have 10 of the same investments or 20 of the same investments. You need a challenge?

Tanya:
Absolutely. Absolutely. But I think a lot of the female innovation, female health, anything to do with the female body. I think it’s sometimes, you know, it can make men feel uncomfortable.

Jeffery:
So, um, we’re gonna work with one right now that just hits in the same spot you’re talking to. We’re actually working on putting together the whole contract and deal flow with how we’re gonna work with them. But it’s in contraceptive. So we’re pretty excited about it, and I don’t need to be a rocket scientist on knowing it, but I believe the founder in the space. So you got to get excited for it’s something that’s a little different. Last night I was on the Founder’s Institute coaching mentoring session, and there was a pitch done and a female was pitching, and when she was done pitching the concept, I literally did not have a clue what she was talking about. I didn’t understand it, and it wasn’t because I have no idea. I see thousands of pitches a year of nothing more than that. It was just how she was explaining it. And when it was done, I thought, what is this some like? And they made a joke about it because it was kind of funny, but I felt like what they were trying to sell or build was she’s talking about yoga and shaving your legs and that this was this gonna be a redefining product for women. And I thought what is this? Like a bungee cord? You strap it to your back because they mentioned something on your back. So I kept thinking was that you’re on a bungee cord in the shower and, like, how does this help you shave? But there was three screens off all of the startups that were part of the cohort. She was on one of the other screens, so I couldn’t even tell who was talking. But I guess her background picture actually showed the product so that when I was giving feedback and sharing this, then her picture came up and it was basically a table, it went across the back of the tub and it was built with all of these different mechanisms to ensure stability when standing in a shower, sitting all of these things that you could do so totally different than what I had envisioned. But when I saw it, I was like, I get it. I could totally see how this is gonna make women in a shower more comfortable. But at the time, I thought it was some bungee cord, and it was just weird. So again, our job is to help them better articulate their plan and their pitch and their business. But at the end, it was,I guess, funny. But at the end it worked out well. So she has a pretty cool product that she’s getting ready to launch.

Tanya:
So okay, see, it’s exciting, isn’t it? There’s so many different businesses. It’s l exciting just to be part of that, like hear about what’s going on in all the different space, Even if you’re not investing in. It’s very interesting for someone like me that gets bored very easily, and I need, like, a lot of stimulation and to be learning a lot. It’s great.

Jeffery:
100% Yeah. If I didn’t see the amount of startups I did in a day, I don’t even know what I’d be doing after this because I don’t think there’s anything that could stimulate me with. You know, some days you’ll see 20 pitches or 30 pitches in a day, and you’re just sorting through where you’re going with them, how you’re helping them. But I think that there’s more we want to do because you’re seeing all of them. And if you’re only investing in one of those 100 that you see, it gets frustrating because you’re like, well, if I have the privilege because not too many people are getting to see 100 pitches a week. If you’re getting to see this volume, shouldn’t you be able to do more? Or so your brain starts to fight against this man, I wanna help more. How can I help these people do this? So it becomes a tic tac toe board. You’re always trying to move people around and get them in front of these other people and introducing these investors or these startups to each other because they could work together. So there’s a lot of action going on, but it’s stimulating. And at the other day, you transfer some of that back to the startups, right?

Tanya:
Yeah, absolutely. Yeah.

Jeffery:
So now I guess that you guys have started making these were making global investments and you’ve got a nice little portfolio and you’ve you’ve decided which companies really fit the criteria, what is the founder criteria that you look for? Because I guess every woman’s not equal and everybody is not the same. So what type of things do you look for in a founder in order to make those next steps happen on going into due diligence?

Tanya:
So I think I think there’s a lot of different things, different parts that make up on outstanding founder for us. And Gail, my business partner and I have different views on this, and we look for different things. And so that’s why we both work on a complimentary to each other. But for me, I really look for and I can see that this is working for me. Because when I look back at my portfolio, the companies where I applied this and I use this criteria is paying dividends. Now, on that is my ability to build a personal relationship with that founder is really important. Because bearing in mind, we’re investing usually a pretty early stage. So it’s not like we can, you know, say, give us your last three years financials and etcetera, etcetera. Let me dive deep in those. It’s actually, yes, we look at the forecasting, but it’s on by the market. It’s a with those typical things, but but in terms of the founder, it’s very much for me do I like you? Can you — can I work with you? Do I want to sit on a call with you every couple of weeks? And do I wanna have a coffee with you? Do and does that translate into you being able to attract and retain amazing talent in your business? That’s really important. I’ve met some founders that looked to me like they’re building great businesses, would never wanna work for them. And wouldn’t want to really spend a great deal of time with them. And I just think, Well, I actually have the privilege here of this being my own business, and I can choose who I want to work with. And I don’t think that you have the capacity to attract and retain great talent. And therefore that’s gonna be your Achilles heel and a big one in a small business. So that, for me is super important. And of course, that vision, right? That and that’s not going back to our sort of burning yourself out point. It’s not about looking for founders that are going to work 120 hours a week. It’s about looking for founders that are super laser focused on the on their goal, their objective, whatever that may be. Whether that is to head for an IPO or just grow a team of 50 people and have a profit of X or whatever. Like they have a laser focus on that and are they able to execute on that whilst keep retaining even under pressure. That part that is likable on that humility because that is I’ve seen so many businesses where they can attract people and they don’t have. They’re lacking in those skills, and I think they’re super important. And I’m not sure that really venture typically values that too much.

Jeffery:
I think that’s actually of all the things you listed, they all kind of seemed like okay, I get it. But that one was the key to it all, I think is that can they retain talent? Can they bring talent in? And I don’t even — this obviously you’ve emphasized this on the female founder side. But when you have never looked at the founder even from, male or female side in the same context looking at them saying, could other people work for these people and in a bigger capacity. And will they actually be able to get people to do work? Well, they build that, as you mentioned, build goals and have a direction of where they’re going. I think that does carry a lot of weight in the female founder or well, I guess you could say in general. But really so in the female founder side because you can’t work with them and you can’t figure out what they’re trying to get to – then how could anybody else?

Tanya:
So, yes,

Jeffery:
I love that.

Tanya:
Yeah, absolutely.

Jeffery:
So in that female founder team being able to retain and grow because you mentioned the goal aspect, is that part of your performance review? Or your updates too? Is saying that if we’re coming into this company, you better have an outlook. I got to see where this is going. Are you driven to sell the company in three years? Is that goal set at the beginning or you’re willing to work with them to get to what those goals might be?

Tanya:
Absolutely. We’re like I said the aim is for us to have a very mixed portfolio. So some of those goals will be very much driven by hypergrowth. And some of those goals will be driven by, for the more tech companies of our portfolio on some of our businesses will be driven, just to reach x amount of employees and being x amount of countries and hit this revenue, etcetera. We are about as far away as possible a VC that’s going to come in and say this is what you must do. This is how you’re going to do it. We’re investing into a woman that have that goal in their mind, and it is crystal clear, whatever that is, and they know how to execute. They are experts in their field. We are not. We are here to support them in whatever way they want and need and that’s also one of the things we look for, we do want to be here to support. Are they open to that support? And that doesn’t mean we’re looking for women that you know that they’re not great at X or not great at y? Or need mentoring? Women don’t necessarily need extra mentoring because they’re women. I’m sort of fed up of hearing that. what we’re saying is we’re investing in these outstanding women that know crystal clear objectives on absolute site on what they’re doing. But we’re here to support them around the edges, to make introductions, to be on the other end of the phone. I was with the founder of ours on Monday this week, we were doing some filming. And. She was asked the question. She was being interviewed by one of my team. You know, what does Tanya actually provide to you? Like, what’s the most valuable thing? Because I’ve been an investor in her business for the last three years and she turned around and she said, Well, it’s that I can call her up twice a week. And that’s not a scheduled thing. That’s just roughly how many times she calls me up to ask this or, you know, get my opinion on this latest discussion with a VC that she’s had or whatever it is I’m just there. And so We want to be there. That’s pretty much it. But everything else is driven by the founder.

Jeffery:
I love it and it’s it always falls back to, or at least where I’m learning from talking to and things, Is that your past really carries forward in how you interact with everybody. How you balance the juggling act of talking to different founders all the time and being able to give them that drive or the support and helping them move forward. I think that’s incredible. So it makes a big difference.

Tanya:
Yeah, and I sort of touched on it then, but it’s a real bugbear of mine. But when I speak to — when I see what other VCs are doing, typically sort of male VCs or even corporates, when you look at what corporate they’re doing for, you know, they have identified that we need to back more women. Oh, how do we do that? Okay, we give women more mentoring, more education, because there’s something lacking with them. that they’re missing something they’re not educated correctly or they don’t have confidence. That’s what I hear all the time, so we’re going to give them mentoring. So our contribution to addressing SDG five gender equality on gender diversity is mentoring for women, and it’s like really? How about just some investment, like equal access to capital, that it’s no more complicated….

Jeffery:
(Inaudible) Tell them that they’re the ones that need some mentoring and coaching to actually interact and work with everybody. Trying to put the onus on the other culture or people that they’re the ones that are inefficient or deficient when it’s actually people probably talking. So I think that and I was thinking this while you were saying that I’m trying to figure out is there a balance somewhere in here? It’s not broken down by gender. I think that’s, ah, terrible metric to use. I was thinking, maybe it’s based on age. Well, nobody knows what anybody’s ages are anymore, and I’m not the one that’s gonna ask. So I think it goes back to experience level and how open you are to do that. Like a 20 year old building a company versus a 40 year old building a company. There’s a big difference in a big gap of experience and that they’re gonna be able to maneuver through the waters differently at 40 than they are at 20. But then the difference of maneuvering throughout 40 maybe you’ve taken too many lumps, so you don’t go the same direct route. Maybe you go around because you’re avoiding conflict, whereas at 20 you don’t give a shit and you’re going right through the conflict zone. So there’s a win for both sides, right? One might get there faster with more bruises. The other one might get there more efficiently and make more money and get to the end result. Any how so I don’t know if there’s a real metric to define how you should be working with founders. But I do think that we have to take out if they are a different culture, they’re female, they’re male or this and just treat everybody as an equal. And their basis is what experiences are you lacking that I can help offset so that you’ll grow and because they’ll know things that we don’t, like you said. The reason you do this is because you’re learning new innovations, new things. There’s a lot of stuff you get out of this just as they are. So there’s a balance, right?

Tanya:
Yeah, yeah. I mean, I’m not against mentoring, and I’m not against the additional education, and training and support. I’m not against any of those things. I just don’t think that we need to do that in abundance because they’re women. That’s what I’m against on. That’s what I think. The world is currently where we’re at, with so much focus on we’re going to give them this mentoring because they’re women.

Jeffery:
It feels like that they’re treating them like they’re problem.

Tanya:
Yeah, exactly.

Jeffery:
Oh, they’re women. They’re not way should do this, which is not even facing its farthest thing from it. So, uh (Inaudible) —

Tanya:
Show me a country mimic — Sorry. Carry on.

Jeffery:
It’s just I have a low attention span for ignorance. It drives me crazy, so I just don’t want to talk to ignorant people. They just don’t see the benefit of other people. And what if it doesn’t matter who they are? Just figure out a way to work with them because they know things you don’t and you know, things they don’t. There is a great way to meet the middle, but the ignorant side of people just that it clusters me. So I call it out or I walk away. So But I’m glad that you see that and you’re trying to accommodate a lot of this to move things in a forward direction as well.

Tanya:
Yeah, I think sometimes the intentions are always also good. They’re just sort of not… They’re a bit misplaced. I guess that they think that’s what they should do or they’re not sure so that it’s not always a mansplaining or, you know, something as obvious as that or is offensive as that. But sometimes it’s a lack of knowing what to do. So actually, some businesses coming through where that would help how like VC, financial industry, corporate, whatever to navigate this in a better way, I think would be a great business.

Jeffery:
Oh, totally agree with that. I saw a post on Linkedin, and it was we’re looking to diversify our, board of directors. we’re looking to have people in… I think they may have been refined and said people that were like black people or something like that, people of color to apply. And someone like you really think you’re solving the problem by opening up a board seat and defining that you’re looking for someone of color to fill into this? You guys need to revamp your whole outlook on how life works, and how your business works because that was the dumbest thing anybody could post because I like to read the comments. I completely agree. I was like, Yeah, man, that’s terrible. But again, no one knows they’re trying to adapt and I give them try points. But they should probably ask questions and talking about get some better feedback on how do I approach this to get the success of looking for without making a defensive or the wrong way to break the ice so….

Tanya:
Yeah, yeah, yeah. And when you look at women, find me a country on this planet where women do not outperform men at education. You know, university, at school, academically speaking, there’s not a lack of education or a lack of that intrinsic intelligence. It’s not. It’s not that. So we don’t need it.

Jeffery:
Agreed. I completely agree, and everybody could take some time to read something, review something, and learn something. So I don’t think that there’s any CEO in the world that’s not up for the challenge and task of figuring out something new to get over the hurdle. So I’m not sure that also always the right answers, but all right, we’re gonna move to the rapid fire questions, but I have to which I’ve never done before. I need 100 of a second because there’s a beeping going in the background. I need to turn it off. Sorry about that.

Tanya:
That’s okay.

Jeffery:
Alright. Rapid fire questions. Here we go. Okay. What’s your favorite part of investing?

Tanya:
Yeah, meeting founders.

Jeffery:
Done. How many companies do you invest in per year?

Tanya:
10.

Jeffery:
Any verticals you like to focus on the market?

Tanya:
Female consumer, consumer tech, social impact.

Jeffery:
Do you have any due diligence requirements that you look for before you make a commitment?

Tanya:
Geography, size, and as long as it fits in our verticals. Then that’s it.

Jeffery:
Okay. Timelines for investment from start of conversation?

Tanya:
Roughly eight weeks.

Jeffery:
Okay. Anything else outside the due diligence requirements? Anything that you liked? Emphasis on team CEOs, anything like that, that really make a difference.

Tanya:
Women in the senior leadership teams on diversity amongst the team. So if there’s three senior roles we would like, you know, two of those along with our founder, including our founder to be to be women

Jeffery:
Okay. Do you like to lead rounds?

Tanya:
Yes and also no.

Jeffery:
Okay. Preferred terms, perhaps shares common shares. What do you like to work with?

Tanya:
We’re very fluid at the moment.

Jeffery:
Okay. There’s nothing wrong with that. That’s good. Do you do follow up on investments and percentage of portfolio?

Tanya:
Yes, we do. 50%.

Jeffery:
Awesome. You take board seats?

Tanya:
Yes or board observer, At least. At the very least.

Jeffery:
Okay. And is there anything outside of and you talked about a bunch of things, but just to wrap it up, is there a bunch of other things that outside of money that you provide to the startup?

Tanya:
So much, so much. Actually, even our LPs have the option to get involved. I was speaking to an LP this week. Who said we invest in female health? She’s a doctor. She said, Can I have access to you know, can I support some of these businesses? Absolutely, you can. Of course, we’d love that. So some of our LPs will likely take board observer seats in some of our portfolio. A large number of our LPs are women and I think more often than not, they want to give something more than their money, which is usually their time and expertise.

Jeffery:
Awesome. There’s another another female group that I just thought of that you could look at there in Toronto. They’re called S-H-E-O.

Tanya:
My business partner is there is already there. She’s in. She’s in the team.

Jeffery:
Okay, Perfect. Cool that I don’t even have to tell you about it then. So they do a lot of stuff with female founder raising and helping put the money into female founders. The government stuff. Okay, cool. Well, awesome see. You’re already in the ecosystem. You already part of the Canadian side. I love it. All right, so now another rapid fire questions. Now, the next question is, and what we look for is kind of like this. It’s like a heartfelt story of you can’t believe that the founder came from this and they were able to make this happen or the reverse. It didn’t happen the way wanted to. And things didn’t work out. But just looking for a story where founders can kind of feel the pain, they understand what people go through. But Sometimes they don’t get to hear this war stories. They don’t really understand what someone goes through. And maybe there’s a story that comes on top of mine. And you were like, this girl did this and then it took off like crazy. We couldn’t believe it. She almost bankrupt or whatever might be. But just some great heartfelt story that you really think was amazing.

Tanya:
Yeah, okay. The thing is, is you find that almost every founder has a story like that. Whatever it maybe s o. I could think of many, many stories, but one is a founder here in Singapore that we invested in and we invested in one type of we invested in an e commerce marketplace. She’s been plugging away at this business for five years. It was in a in a very challenging place. Built some, built the technology to actually power the website because the off the shelf products went up to the job of what we had the product. What we were selling, i e the marketplace so built the technology ourselves and ended up with not just actually elevating the very core business that we had built the technology for but actually having this, um, product that we could sell as a SAAS solution. And so we went from, you know, a challenging place. Very challenging place. I’m on. I chat to this founder on awful lot on. She’s fantastic to now building this product. And then it was primarily built for the hospitality industry and launched at the beginning of this year. What happened at the beginning of this year, the hospitality industry disappeared as we know it. And so we kind of had this. It was we were in a tough place. We built this thing, it was all gonna be wonderful. We secured these five star luxury hotels. It was all going great. And then boom. Then she pivoted to retail and, of course, retail. This year, all online has gone like this. So again, business is going great guns. So this founder has worked, solo Founder, worked her socks off, you know, 33 Children. Solo founder pivoted this business now spinoff business on is on fire on bond. I love her. She’s amazing. And she and she is exactly the founder that I described earlier when I said when I apply this criteria to investing in her. It wasn’t that I fell in love with her e-commerce marketplace. I fell in love with her in that I knew that she would make whatever it was successful. And we were so early stage that I could invest in her. And now that’s paying dividends. So, yeah, that’s my story.

Jeffery:
Love it. That’s what the good stories see. That’s cool. I like that. Very good. Okay, so now we’re going to get to the personal side and normally ask this first question at the beginning, but because we were moving so fast, it’s just totally didn’t even hit me. But the first question is, um, what’s one thing about you that nobody would know?

Tanya:
Oh, I’m a fantastic hula Hooper.

Jeffery:
Done that would be a first. I’ve never heard that one. So that’s good. That is good. Uh, the reason why I do this is because I like to in all the classes and everything, I do always ask this question because, uh, you mentioned it earlier. But it’s, um we’ll have short cos my shortcoming is I’m terrible with names, but I’m very good with details, so I will always remember stats and numbers. Well, I’m not going to call her body your number one and your number five. That doesn’t really work. But if I get some sort of description, it allows for me to remember who that person is. So not to go around. So then I’ll be like, Oh, the person That was an amazing Hula Hooper. She says, uh,

Tanya:
So you’re going to remember me now?

Jeffery:
Yeah. Bucketing. One of my students that this was a few years ago. One of the students said to me, he’s like, I look Chinese, but I’m actually Vietnamese. So that was his unique identifier. And that was the crushing part because now every time I see you, that’s all I could think of. But it does help. It does put it into context. So all right, favorite sports team. And if you could just kind of more something into the sporting field that you might like?

Tanya:
No, I’m a huge netball fan. Do you have that? I think you have net balling, Canada. Do you?

Jeffery:
That that’s different than volleyball, right?

Tanya:
Netballs like basketball played by women. You can’t move, though, with the ball. You’re stationary. It’s very popular in Australia, New Zealand, Jamaica and UK.

Jeffery:
I didn’t know that you couldn’t move, but I do remember seeing a couple of matches in, uh from not from Australia.

Tanya:
Yes. Yeah, they’re usually Yeah. Yeah. Aussies, Kiwis, or the UK are usually world champions. I love netball so the British, the UK netball team. Probably my favorite.

Jeffery:
I think we had, if I remember correctly the Commonwealth Games in Toronto we had net ballers. And I did a couple of matches, and I you was that the Argentinian team was pretty damn good there fast, But they weren’t like, I think there was three UK. There was a few others that were really like crushing it, so…

Tanya:
yeah, yeah. I mean, the Australian team, they have some players that are like 6 ft three. You know, these air extremely tour women. Yeah, they just like popping it in.

Jeffery:
Yeah, dominating the sport. Yeah. Have to remember back our team there. That was another one, but anyways, that’s awesome. Very cool. Last last question to this is what’s your favorite movie and what character would you play in the movie?

Tanya:
Oh, my goodness. Oh, my favorite movie off. Absolutely. Is Bridesmaids.,

Jeffery:
Bridesmaids. All right?

Tanya:
Yeah. Do you know it? I do know what? I don’t know if I’ve actually seen it yet. I don’t think so. I saw, like, snippets of it. And what character? It’s hilarious. Hilarious. Well, the main character is a bit of a goofball. Like she messes up a lot, but then she comes good. You know, typical story. Um, I think I would play the evil, um, the evil woman that’s trying to steal her best friend who lives in the big mansion and, gets to wear really nice clothes and drive nice cars. E think that’s who I would play just because she was. And she sings very badly. I like singing badly.

Jeffery:
Perfect. Well, I’m gonna watch this movie. I’ve got so many movies to watch now, and I’m gonna I’d like to catch up. So the reason why I like to do the character in a movie because I again I personally believe that you see a lot of representation of a character and how you could either work that way or be part of that, or you enjoy the way they work or the way they talk. So it would be kind of cool, and I like to match them up. So I had one interview where the gentleman said that he was Yoda and I was like, I’m not sure you fit. Yoda you’re more like a What’s the name? I was forgetting this guy’s name now, but I Oh, my God. Lando. And he’s, like, kind of. But I’m more of a Yoda, so it makes me think so. Now I’m like gonna watch every Star Wars movie again. Maybe I’m missing something. This guy’s like Yoda. I gotta find this out.

Tanya:
So I don’t think I’m like this lady by the way, when you’re watching it, don’t judge me. You will be thinking, wow, she’s a hula hooping evil woman. I’m not, but I just I just think she would be the cooler one to play.

Jeffery:
No, for sure. That’s awesome. Well, Tanya, it was brilliant chatting with you. I learned alots. As I always do I take lots of notes. There you go. Lots of notes, Big fan. But thank you very much for your time today. It’s a pleasure getting to learn a bit more about yourself and what you guys are up to The way we like to end our podcast is we like to leave the last word to you. So anything you want to say to investors or the startups, the show is yours. So feel free to take it over.

Tanya:
Oh, thank you. One of the things I haven’t talked about today with you is that diversity at fund manager level will follow through to diversity of founder level. Therefore, if we’re really committed to investing in a more equal world. Women, people of color, etcetera, etcetera. We must invest in managers that look like that too. And not just the typical GPs that we see at the moment. So that would be my parting shot.

Jeffery:
I love it. And I wholeheartedly agree with that. Everybody’s gotta look up and look forward to being in a space that they wanna be. And they got to be able to see representation at the same time.

Tanya:
Yes

Jeffery:
I love it. Well, again Brilliant. I love everything you’re doing. Please keep it up. And, I hope to get you to our next event. So you can check out some of the companies that we have coming through and outside that have a fantastic day because you’ve got a whole day ahead of you.

Tanya:
Yes. Thank you for the early start. Thank you. Thank you. Bye.

Jeffery:
Great conversation with Tanya really enjoyed all the things that they’re doing. Even from the triple bottom line, profit, planet people and all the things that we talked about. Southeast Asia investing in female founders and companies, how they look for when they’re talking about personal relationships and how they could retain talent. Thought that was awesome. Can they actually be working? People work with them going forward. Will they be able to hire people? It will be able to drive this business forward. Are they really made for that? I think they did a lot of great things. I love the diversifying it. 80% in Southeast Asia, 20% global. Brilliant overall, Big fan. Thank you.

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