Tell us a bit about your background
My first startup was at the tender age of 20. I was very excited to work in this buzzing environment. Then I had a baby and an ex-husband who wasn’t really keen on my working 24/7 and taking the baby with me and so I was forced to leave the startup to join a corporate. My ex-partner in that first startup now lives in Point Piper – testimony to the fact that the business was a huge success . I was always devastated that I wasn’t able to remain part of that journey.
After working in the corporate environment for some 18 years with IBM, I decided it was time to jump ship again and start another entrepreneurial journey.
I founded two companies in South Africa both of which were in the med-tech space. Both resulte din successful exits. Then I came to Australia to take up a position in a health-based IT start-up during the dot.com era when everyone was talking about tech.
Sadly, ours was not a success story – it was simply too early for what we were trying to do. Sometimes it is all about timing not necessarily about the technology. People were not really ready to let health data go offsite, away from the doctors’ environment- that’s so different now.
But that experience taught me something really important. I realised then that I didn’t like the corporate environment and that I needed to be doing something myself .
I have been involved in startups ever since.
I was part of a startup in radiology in Australia which we sold to Telstra. Then there was one that I was involved in that was not successful but it was the best learning experience. The tech was complicated, but worked well, but it failed to commercialise in Australia due to constraint regulations in the sector at the time.
More recently, I spent 14 years with the Federal Government’s Accelerating Commercialisation (AC) program as a consultant, doing due diligence on their behalf and supporting investment and grant decisions.
Now, I focus on VentureX and my role as CEO of a biotech company.
Why did you start VentureX?
I feel I’ve had a very successful career in the main part and I want to help others on that journey.
When I first started there was no such thing as getting investment money into your business; if you couldn’t bootstrap you were dead and I know how hard that journey is.
During much of my time at IBM, I worked in the mining department where there were no other women. Blokes go to the pub after work and share work and deal insights. I don’t think women are able to share with colleagues to that extent and providing a safe environment for facilitating connections and deals is really important to me as a way of ‘giving back’.
Overall, there are two things companies need – capital and contacts. If we can facilitate that by opening doors and smoothing the way for more female founders, that’s something I’m passionate about. It’s really hard to get in the door if you’re an unknown or don’t know ‘the right people’, so making introductions where possible is a key part of giving back.
Why female led ventures?
It’s deeply strategic. If you look at the very small amount of money that’s going into female led businesses, compared with male-led businesses, there’s a huge gap.
And, if you look at female-led businesses on a whole they’re infinitely more successful than male dominated businesses !!
VentureX Capital is very much committed to help female entrepreneurs – it’s what started our mission remains at the core of what we do.
By female founders, we refer generally to actual founders or females in C Suite positions of influence with a sizeable equity stake in the business.
What do you like to see during due diligence and when considering investment?
The DD process is a lot like dating, I like to have a relationship and conversations with the company and founder.
If they talk to you when things are good that’s one thing but I want to know that they’re going to be prepared to talk to you when things are tough too.
It’s not all smooth sailing so building that relationship and understanding of who you’re dealing with is critical and that’s where we can add value as well.
In Founders, I look for absolute passion and tenacity as key attributes to have. There will be plenty of down days, and I need to know they have the strength to get through it.
Been a founder, especially a solo one is a lonely place.
I personally don’t like to invest in sole founders but if they have a great product, revenue and can establish a board of directors/advisors to help, that would make them more investible.
What do you see as the value of a syndicate?
I am new to syndicate investing too.
Investing as part of a syndicate is really great for new investors because you get access to pre-filtered deals and someone else manages the deal, the due diligence and all that needs to be done in advance of making an investment. Its the best way to learn.
Previously I’ve done my own due diligence. I have invested in early-stage companies where the risk is quite high. I tend to invest in companies where I think the founder has the tenacity and the drive to make a difference .Founders and the team are critical at the early stage. I aslo focus on technology that is of interest to me ie I tend to pick investments that I like and understand and where I feel I might be able to help the founder in some way.
For founders, syndicate investing is not that different from taking investment from a VC. You take investment from lots of investors but through one entity – the syndicate. It’s also better for you as a founder when managing your cap table and investors – so it’s far easier to raise future capital.
How do you join the syndicate?
You can invest through the VentureX Capital syndicate via the Aussie Angels website here.
For founders – if you’re seeking investment, send us your startup information and find out more here.