“I want athletes to think about ownership, because they have a lot of power,” said investor and Olympic champion Lindsey Vonn at the Carta Equity Summit. In sports and entertainment, equity ownership is a hot topic—to the point that “most people in entertainment want to have equity and build their own companies,” said talent executive and Justice Dept. founder Jennifer Justice. Lindsey and Jennifer were joined by athlete/investor Kelvin Beachum and Kara Nortman, managing partner of Upfront Ventures, to talk about trends in equity outside Silicon Valley.
This transcript has been edited and condensed for length and clarity.
Kara:Welcome to this session on equity outside of Silicon Valley. We’re honored to be here with three icons in their field.
I’m Kara Nortman, managing partner of Upfront Ventures, a venture capital (VC) firm in Los Angeles that invests at both the seed and growth stage. We’ve been in companies like Ring, GOAT, thredUP, and many on the enterprise software side. I’m also a co-founder of All Raise, which is dedicated to increasing the percentage of female founders and funders in the tech and startup world; and of Angel City, the first majority-female owned, female-led professional sports team in the country, which I started along with Julie Uhrman and Natalie Portman—and I’m thrilled that Lindsey Vonn, who is here with us today, is an investor as well.
Kicking it off with our esteemed panelists:
Lindsey Vonn is widely regarded as the greatest female ski racer in history. She’s won Olympic gold and bronze medals as an alpine racer, as well as overall World Cup titles. She founded the Lindsey Vonn Foundation, which supports girls through scholarships, education, and athletics; and is the New York Times bestselling author of “Strong Is the New Beautiful: Embrace Your Natural Beauty,” “Eat Clean,” and “Harness Your Power.” She also had a terrific HBO documentary called “Lindsey Vonn: The Final Season.”
Kelvin Beachum is a Texas native, and a 10-year National Football League (NFL) veteran, currently with the Arizona Cardinals. He’s a graduate of Southern Methodist University, with an undergrad degree in economics and a master’s in organizational dynamics—something that’s critical to building successful companies. Kelvin is deeply involved in players’ issues as a representative for the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) and many other organizations, and an advocate for a wide variety of topics ranging from equity in business to ending hunger, providing clean water access, and supporting underrepresented youth to pursue STEM disciplines.
Last but not least, the one and only Jennifer Justice, also known as JJ. Jennifer began her career as a lawyer and pioneer in the field of music, entertainment, and the media, bringing together art and commerce to drive exceptional revenue results—which matters, as that’s where equity begins. She was a big part of Roc Nation with JAY-Z for 17 years, before last year becoming the founder and CEO of the Justice Dept., a legal and advisory firm that supports female-identifying talent, and that is an industry leader as a strategist building equity for women.
Thrilled to have you here.
Getting into equity investing as an athlete
Kara:It’s an extraordinary time, one in which having alternative communities—different thinkers—coming together to build equity has never been more important. And it’s never been more available, in many markets. Lindsey and Kelvin, we all typically associate equity with Silicon Valley, and I’m sure you hear this question a lot, but talk to me about investing as someone without a “traditional” VC or investing background. Why is it important?
Kelvin: It’s super important to look at investing, especially with preferred equity. We’re able to get true ownership in companies, whether it’s with a smaller, $50,000 or $100,000 check, or as part of an institution like Upfront where you’re able to get a significant chunk of a company. It’s important to have that type of access, as an athlete coming up in the venture capital ecosystem or in Silicon Valley—and it’s something that you’re starting to see not only in the NFL but across all sports.
Kara:How did you start, and do you have advice for people who are thinking about getting into investing in equity?
Kelvin: I got started in 2016. The Super Bowl was in San Francisco, and the Denver Broncos and the Carolina Panthers were playing. The NFLPA and the NFL provided access and we got to go to Silicon Valley and see some of the best and brightest startups, and I realized there’s so much opportunity for athletes to get involved in the venture ecosystem. Seeing that in person, then being able to take that to whatever market or region we happened to be in, was important. And it’s something that has to be done. It can’t be just Silicon Valley; it has to be in all corners of the U.S. and even the globe.
Lindsey: I started investing as an athlete looking at endorsement agreements. Before, no one thought of equity as a game changer; it was all just monetary. About eight or nine years ago, Hyperice approached me, and they couldn’t offer any money but they offered a piece of the company. I really believed in what they were doing, so I invested my time and got a great investment from it.
That started my mind thinking, and I changed my approach in all of my endorsement agreements, toward actually owning a piece of the company that I’m promoting. I have equity in most of my companies, and once I retired I took that to the next level and am helping some VC funds. Through my connections, I’ve gotten access to new companies and CEOs that I believe in. I get a combo deal—sometimes I’m the ambassador, but every time I’m the investor. It’s been a slow transition, but it’s really important to have a piece of the pie when you’re actually helping build it up.
Kara: I talk about how you can build a “venture capital approach” to your life, thinking about investing money or investing time. Both have value, and we tend to separate them, but it’s more beautiful when they come together.
As you’re now in the next phase of your career, how do you think about whether to take a meeting? Do you have a filter for getting involved from a time standpoint, when to say no, yes, or agonize over a maybe?
Lindsey: There’s a pretty thorough filter before anything gets to me. I’ve had a great team of agents since I was 17, and they see some deal flow. I have transitioned to building my own team, where I have advisors who are plugged into the VC space bringing in deals. And through the funds that I’m supporting, I also see a lot of companies that want to have me as an endorser as well as wanting the funds. So there’s many filters—and obviously, the numbers have to make sense, but the main thing is that I have to believe in the CEO and what they’re doing. I never get involved with a company unless I believe in them and am willing to put up my own money. Those are my rules of engagement.
Taking risks and playing the long game
Kara:JJ, you are that trusted advisor, and you’ve been a pioneer in having an equity mindset for the people you work with, including yourself. From the perspective of the artists and entertainers you’ve worked with since the beginning of your career, how has the equity conversation changed?
Jennifer: I had the fortune of working with JAY-Z from the very beginning, right when “Hard Knock Life” came out. He’s a very interesting character. I had worked with other artists, managers, and agents, and they were just about getting the upfront money; they didn’t want to wait for the back end. But Jay was very different. He didn’t like middlemen; he never had an agent for his entire career. He was like “I want to own the business, I don’t want to just support it.” And he saw the difference because he was an artist at his own label, so he saw how much money he was making on that side versus being the owner.
So I came into it very wide-eyed, thinking this is how it always works. We always built equity and I was always into it, and our model was to go partner with somebody to learn how to do it, then do it ourselves and own it. I came from a single teenage welfare mother who didn’t even graduate high school. So to learn that equity is where you get real generational wealth was an amazing exercise, and I credit Jay, who was not afraid to say no.
It took a long time for other artists to see the value, because it is hard to turn down millions and millions of dollars of upfront cash and instead say, “I’ll take some money and some equity, and I’ve got to bet on this team.” Because it means you’re betting on somebody else instead of yourself. But over time, it’s evolved to where most people want to have equity and build their own companies, and that’s really exciting.
When I shifted my focus to solely help women, I was almost going back to the beginning, because women aren’t given these opportunities as often. We’re asked to give away money to charity, but we’re never asked to invest. So I got my feet wet because I was sitting in a room at Roc Nation in LA and Michael Rapino and Guy Oseary came in and asked Jay Brown, one of the other Roc Nation founders, to invest in something, and it was like, “I’m sitting right here, why aren’t you asking me?” And they were like “oh…OK.” I didn’t invest in that one but I invested after that. That was 10 years ago.
I think women investors who are artists are just now becoming more commonplace. It’s come a long way and there’s still a lot more room to grow.
Kara:I couldn’t agree more. And even as one of the senior women in the VC industry in LA, there can be imposter syndrome, followed almost immediately by a fear of irrelevance. There’s a very short window of time when you’re comfortable in your own skin, asking people to take risks with you, while at the same time people still want to hang out with you. One of my guiding missions is to expand that middle by helping people find the right strategy for themselves.
I’ve noticed, not just in investors but tech operators as well—and particularly women—that people often want someone to tell them how to do this. I don’t want to stereotype, but there’s just different risk calibrations sometimes. I’m curious, as you begin talking to a new female artist or entertainer who’s building out a longer-term equity strategy, how do you advise them on creating their team of advisors?
Jennifer: The first thing is to work with people who understand where you’re coming from. Nobody on this panel was thought about in the Constitution, so we are used to being the “other.” White men are catered to, and people may often give you the advice they would give to other white men. But I know how to speak to women, and their vulnerabilities around money and building businesses. I show them that they can do this. So work with people who understand who you are when you walk in the room, because they have been that person walking in the room—not every single person on your team, but some of them.
My other advice is to think about what’s authentically part of your life. JAY-Z turned his hobbies into businesses and I helped him do that. Jennifer Fisher, who I interviewed for my podcast yesterday, literally turned her lifestyle into businesses with different revenue streams. Even if you’re not a celebrity, you can do the things you’re super passionate about.
Learning on your own and from others
Kara:That’s what happened to me with the soccer team; who would have thought? Kelvin, I’m always interested in how people build the tribe that helps them move from thing to thing with a growth mindset. How did you begin to expand beyond sports, to be thoughtful about investing your time and building equity?
Kelvin: It’s been an evolution. I pride myself on building a collection of experts in different areas—as JJ was saying, in different areas that I have a passion for. I’m of the mindset that you need to be a sponge and figure it out on your own. So there is no team, as far as how I filter through things or how I go into a room. I want to figure it out for myself, whether I’m looking at a cap table, a pro forma, or a deck. I’m reading all the reports. I want to know what it’s like to file my own K-1. Now, am I a CPA by nature? No, and it can be very tiring. But I need to understand the back office, so that when I do have a team, I know exactly what I want from them.
So you have to immerse yourself in a particular industry or passion area. And the way to do that is to spend time with people who’ve done it for a long time, done it better than you, done it from diverse communities—people who had a silver spoon and people who didn’t. There are many commonalities and many synergies from both. That’s been how I’ve been able to understand equity, investing, and the categories that I find most interesting.
Kara: Has there been a mentor who has opened your mind or opened doors for you?Kelvin: There’ve been so many, in all different forms and times in my life. I think about Ryan Nece, founder of Next Play Capital; I think about Pamela Joyner, who’s a phenomenal business woman, but also a great art collector. There’ve been so many people who continue to invest in and mentor me. And it goes both ways: you have to be willing to be a mentor and a mentee. Be humble enough to receive the information that they’re giving you, and also pass it down to the next generation. We talk about this on the football field: we stand on the shoulders of those who came before us. So it’s hard to pinpoint one particular person because it’s been a collection of people from San Francisco, to New York, to Texas, to Australia, to Europe, to Tel Aviv—people all over the world who have been willing to sow into my life.
Kara: Some of the people I respect the most have looked for mentors who are both much younger and much older than them—and they do that until the end of time. I met Gloria Steinem when she was 70 or 80 years old, and she said “here’s my 30-year plan.” And Ryan is an investor of ours, and comes up a lot in these conversations, so that’s terrific to hear.
Advice to future investors and paying it forward
Kara: Lindsey, I’m curious how you balanced being world class in your sport and beginning the journey of building out your business portfolio. Where were you in your career when you started, and what advice would you give to people who say “I’ll do that in five or 10 years”?
Lindsey:Skiing is not very lucrative for me, so I’ve always been of the mindset that I’m going to have to outwork everyone outside of the field of play if I want to have the kind of funds where I don’t have to work after skiing. With sports, our bodies get pretty destroyed, as Kelvin can attest to, so you need a plan B. I’ve always worked hard on that, and when I got equity at Hyperice, that changed how I approach deals. When I was skiing, I tried to find a balance but obviously, first and foremost, I had to win on the slopes. Afterwards, if I want to be successful in business, I have to work just as hard off the slopes.
I’ve always had a plan for retirement. Obviously, once you get there it doesn’t go as smoothly as you expect, but I found my way and many people have helped me in that journey. To Kelvin’s point, I’m always surrounding myself with people that I can learn from—my agents, people that I invest with, or the companies that I’m working with as an ambassador—that’s helped guide me into this next phase. Guy Oseary was really the first person who got me thinking hard about what I’m looking for in companies. I watched him and Ashton [Kutcher] at something like a Shark Tank on stage at a Forbes event, and I was really intrigued by how they judged companies.
Then later at a speaking engagement, I just asked a lot of questions. There were a bunch of CEOs there and I was lucky to have caught someone’s attention, and Paul Kwan, who spent 25 years at Morgan Stanley and is now at General Catalyst, asked me if I wanted to do an internship—and of course I said yes. So I’ve been working with him for the past few months, and that’s really helped my knowledge. I’m not as far along as Kelvin and JJ, but I’m working and surrounding myself with good people, so I can put myself in a good position.
Kara: I’m a big believer in getting women athletes paid more, but that’s probably for a different panel. By the way, Kelvin, it was with the players association that it all began for me in soccer.
Lindsey, how do you think about paying that forward for other female athletes?
Lindsey: Through my foundation, I teach young young girls and women how to be self-confident, and that’s the base of it for me. That confidence will allow them to pursue their dreams over the course of their lives and not feel like there’s anyone standing in their way. Paul Kwan actually mentors other athletes, including Andre Iguodala, and he asked me to build out a program of mentoring other young athletes, so I recommended a couple of female athletes.
In skiing, I’ve always tried to explain what I do; no one really understood how to create a brand, or why I did social media and gave interviews. The Europeans, especially, don’t grasp what I’m doing, and it’s been hard to convey to them that they have the potential to make so much more money. But the Americans are more open-minded, and the next generation of skiers has come in and asked me “how do I start making these connections and building my brand, and what can I do for long-term success?” I’m excited about those conversations. I’ve always said that I’m an open book and what I’ve learned, I want to give to you. Sometimes it’s not easy, because you can only lead a horse to water; you can’t make them drink.
Kara: You can just plant the idea in their mind and hope they call you at the right time.
So JJ, how do you advise people to think about their role as a value-add investor and somebody who has a brand and distribution? Because often, what we saw in the past is “I won’t even talk to you, unless I have equity.” Now we see a lot of people who have big distribution or brands, investing and leaning in to do things without pay. I think a lot gets confused for athletes, actors, and the like in terms of equity and long-term relationships, so it can be a win-win for both sides.
Jennifer: It can be tricky. I started the Justice Dept. to help women understand their worth. People ask to pick our brains, and we often give free advice, which is fine to an extent. But after a minute, you’re like “wait, I get paid for this.” I literally get paid for my knowledge and sometimes on an hourly basis. So it’s a fine line in how you set that up, but you’ve got to look at the long-term gain.
I often try to put female investors behind female founders, because many female founders have a hard time finding women to put on their cap table. So in Seed, I have a lot of friends who are angel investors; I try to put them together and say “We control 80% of the purchasing power. Women like to buy, buy, buy, let’s use that.” I often consult for these female-founded companies to put together the strategy of how to use all these investors. It’s really just feeding communications and information and ways to promote it—whether it’s social media, having a party, talking to their friends, whatever it is. It’s important as a founder to utilize your investors.
To Kelvin’s point earlier, it’s important to make sure everybody understands exactly what they’re doing. I used to say to artists all the time, “you need to understand the basics of every deal: your royalty, record deal, publishing deal, ASCAP versus SoundExchange. When I’m asking you a question, you need to understand what you’re saying yes or no to.
Whether I’m representing a client who is getting investors, or am friends with an investor, I encourage everybody to see how we can use each other in a way that we all get paid. We’re using our capitalist system, and we’ve never seen a form of capitalism where women and people of color are at the top. So what would that look like? To get there, we all have to contribute.
Kara: I have a theory that it would save democracy. But again, that’s another panel.
Jennifer: There’s only one way to prove us wrong, by the way.
The power of group economics
Kara: Yeah! On that note, a quick shoutout to Carta. What Carta has done to bring awareness to women on the cap table is really important and powerful. We know that less than 3% of venture dollars go to female CEOs. I’m on the board of 11 companies and almost half of them are led by women, but it’s not easy. It’s slow, and we’ve got to keep doing the work. Making women, people of color, and people from diverse backgrounds wealthy will open up funds for more types of problems and opportunities. So Carta, thanks again for bringing up this topic.
JJ, tell us about a time when you used “group economics,” and brought a group of people together? When you see an opportunity, are you like, “I’m just going to grab some people who have never done this before?”
Jennifer: I just helped a female-founded company called YOLA Mezcal. Yola is a woman from Mexico City whose grandfather started an agave farm in Oaxaca and left it to her when he died. It’s a beautiful bottle, sustainable, very clean—and all the women who work on the farm actually get paid, whereas in Mexico, it’s often their fathers, husbands, or brothers who get paid. It’s three women: Yola [Jiminez], a Swedish artist named Lykke Li, and Gina [Correll Aglietti] is the CEO. We met through our friend Mia Moretti, who’s a DJ, and she’s like “I think you guys can work together,” and they were raising a convertible note before doing a Series A. So I got a group together—we’re about 15 to 20 women at this point, all of us from very diverse backgrounds, who do different things. Meryl Streep is also an investor, though I wasn’t the one to get her. They just finished their Series A. I introduced them to Carta, and we’re starting to plan how to get it out there, using our collective interest and passion for YOLA and the mezcal, and our love to spend money and have parties and be together, as much as we can after these last 18 months.
To the earlier point, I have a friend who is head of partnerships at Hello Sunshine, and I’d asked her to invest a while ago, and she passed. Then they had a big sale, and I said “there’s still availability to put in for YOLA,” and she’s in Mexico City was like “oh my God, it’s everywhere!” So it’s word of mouth, and not only is it a great product but it’s a beautiful story with meaning behind it, in an area that can drive massive revenue in a short period of time. I love it and it’s been so much fun to be on this journey with them and I’m excited for what’s still to come.
Kara:So if you have an opportunity you’re personally passionate about, reach out and ask people. The worst they can say is no. You can disclose how much you know or don’t know; people can make their own decisions. If there’s one lesson I’ve learned in the last few years, it’s to ask and ask again and eventually you get yeses and magical things happen.
Lindsey, can you share an example of being asked to join something that was a delightful surprise, or asking others to join something where you as a group created equity and maybe friendships—or just equity is fine too?
Lindsey: I’ve asked a lot of people to get involved in different companies or funds. Often it’s been good friends of mine that I assumed were in this world, but they might ask “what do you mean?” and I explain it to them. I’ve gotten a couple of people to get involved in some funds that way. Some of them did know about equity, but the majority didn’t. And if I didn’t succeed in getting them to join, at least I got them thinking about it—or at least I tried. I want athletes to think about ownership, because they have a lot of power. Kelvin, obviously you understand that, but not a lot do. We should have ownership and I think there should be more athletes that are owners of professional teams as well. I think about what my friend Dwyane Wade is doing with the Jazz, and there’s Elway, and others, but we need to keep pushing for more.
Kelvin: To add to Lindsey’s point, it takes time for athletes to believe that this actually works, to be honest. When I first got into investing, I would tell guys in the locker room, “this is something I’m interested in, and it’s doing very well.” It takes three or four years for some companies to pop and when they see them on TV or during a game, they say “Kelvin, why didn’t you get me into that?” But I told you four years ago. I gave you the blueprint, showed you the deck and the terms. You said it wasn’t for you and I understand, but that’s why it’s important for some of us to keep sending deals, keep showing others the way.
Kelvin: When you actually have a collection of folks who get it, that’s where the group economics come into play: you see a deal, they see a deal. You’re able to put something together, and thinking about the next generation of investors, of technology, and the Web3 world, I think there’s going to be even more group economics. People now see the power of doing something in a collaborative fashion.
Lindsey: Lebron is a really good example. He’s invested in a lot of companies—Blaze is one of the most successful. I think he invested $100 or $300 thousand and it made something like $125 million. But he also invested in the tequila company Lobos, and got all the athletes in his circle to invest as well. That type of group economics has worked well for him and I think a lot of guys in the NBA have seen that as well, so I think we’ll be seeing more and more of that. But it takes someone like him for people to see what’s possible. Kobe did that—there was a sports drink that he invested maybe $6 million in, that is now worth $300 million. That was obviously before his unfortunate passing, but those types of deals open athletes’ eyes to what’s possible and that if you group together, you have even more power to make that company and your investment explode.
Kara: Having peaked as an athlete in college, in a sport none of you ever heard of, somehow I’ve gotten involved in sports again, bringing together people from different communities—investors, athletes, lawyers, and across the board. And you can’t do it with too many people, but if you get a couple connectors who really trust each other, we can rebuild the Freemasons. I realized recently that although most of the history we read involved one type of person—typically a white man—it all happened with these connectors between different groups. You all have shown how much power there is in bringing together different kinds of thinkers.
Going into our final questions, JJ, what are the barriers that, if you could wave your magic wand and get rid of them, would help more people outside of Silicon Valley and traditional investment firms get into equity? Where would you like to see change in the near term?
Jennifer: I think a lot of it is intimidation, which is a barrier to access. Like I said, I was sitting in the same room with a bunch of guys that were talking to each other and not asking me. So one thing is asking. The other is to understand that if you haven’t done it before, you’re going to ask a few more questions, and that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re going to be a nightmare angel investor—but you just want to know more and are curious. Also, I would love for more people to understand the barriers—like you hit on, only 2% of women get venture funding and if you’re a woman of color it’s 0.5%. So, think about the number of meetings you’d have to do for every one that a white man does—it’s crazy, hundreds and hundreds.
A lot of people think, “I don’t really understand the business” and, well, if there’s a market and a female market for it, and if $25,000 or $50,000 is not that much money, just bet on some people to grow this company. Seeing it from the other side: Allow women to grow their companies, because one of the biggest barriers is getting seed capital, and friends and family capital, because we don’t have people who believe that women can grow big companies, because we haven’t seen it as much. Not many female-founded companies go public every year; there were four in 2020, and there’s Jenn from Rent the Runway, and a few more this year. So we’ve got to believe that people, who have not traditionally grown massive companies, can do it.
Companies to watch
Kara: You brought up an idea here: everyone should give a shout out to the brand that they most want to push out into the market. Is there a female- or person of color-led brand that you want to give a shout out to?
Jennifer: I already did YOLA Mezcal, I’ll do Miss Grass, a cannabis company in California as well.
Kara:Before this I was on with Ariel Kaye, CEO of Parachute Home, where I’ve been on the board since the early days. I hope she’ll be one that we all talk about as well. When you find these people, you can trust your instinct. You don’t need to be right early on and you can give them the risk capital, because that’s where it starts. OK, Kelvin?
Kelvin:Do I get to shout out?
Kelvin:Jessica Matthews, with Uncharted. Morgan DeBaun with Blavity. Brittany Ennix with a company called Portex—she spun out of Flexport. Jean Brownhill with Sweeten in New York. I’ll stop there, but could go on and on. Those are a couple that I’m really excited for and continue to support.
As it pertains to barriers to entry, the earlier that you’re able to get into the best companies, the better outcomes you end up having. The barrier is usually controlled by a select group of people—little mafias and cliques that only invest in their bros—so it’s about breaking that mold. It’s hard, but getting access to some of the best deals that end up getting backed by the best firms like Upfront—I’m not plugging Upfront, but—
Kara: We’ll take it, Kelvin.
Kelvin: Being able to get in early. Even with a company like Carta, to be able to get into Carta’s Seed round. It’s one thing to be able to get into these companies when they’re valued at $3 or $6 billion and raising a Series C or D; you’re breaking the bank at that point. It’s different if you can get in when they’re valued at $10 or $50 million before the cap table is massive. So it’s access, and then getting in a little earlier if possible.
Kara:Thank you. Lindsey?
Lindsey:For me, it’s about changing perception. I’m fortunate because for some reason, a lot of white men follow ski racing, and thankfully I’m more well known in some circles. I’m lucky enough to have access, but I can walk into a boardroom, and they assume that I’m not smart and don’t know what I’m doing. They’re just happy that I’m in the room and really could care less what I have to say. So for me, it’s about changing their perception that I do have knowledge and can contribute to their companies—that I’m a good investor. That’s what I’m working to change—and also just working on learning, listening, and asking the right questions.
The company that I’m really excited about is Oura Ring. I know it’s pretty big at this point, but I really believe in Harpreet and what the company is doing. I invested and am an ambassador because their technology can help women get pregnant and track their fertility. There’s a lot coming down the pipeline that I think is going to be revolutionary for women, and I’ve partnered them with some people in the fertility space.
Kara:You’re gonna convert me today, Lindsey. I’ve been on the fence, almost buying and getting distracted in the shopping cart.
Lindsey:Buy! It’s a must-buy.
Kara:A lot of people in my life are big fans as well, so I love that one. Have you gotten to the point where you get joy out of surprising people in the boardroom, like where’s the chip on the shoulder?
Lindsey:I always have a chip, no matter where I am, and I always love surprising people and that’s why I’m an advisor to a few funds. I got introduced and they were like “holy s***, you know what you’re talking about!” And then, “Do you want to raise funds with us?” and I say yes, then crush the meetings and raise the money and they’re like “Damn! OK, let’s keep this rolling and work out some more equity for you.” I like that, proving people wrong. I’m so goal oriented and it’s very similar to skiing in that way, so I love it.
Kara: I always need to productively put the chip on the right place on the shoulder. You know, burn it down from within, you’ve just got to get in first.
Priorities and future investment areas
We’ll end with a lightning round. First is a call to action. What would you like to invest in?
Jennifer:For me, it’s women.
Lindsey: Women in healthcare. There’s such a lack of access to healthcare. I’ve been in the hospital and through the healthcare system way too many times, and my mother has ALS, so I see plenty that can be improved upon.
Kelvin:For me, underrepresented founders who have technical backgrounds. I love investing in enterprise software and there’s not a lot of Black people and women of color in that sector.
Kara: What are your final words of wisdom on how someone can get started in investing?
Lindsey: Everyone knows somebody. It’s about asking questions and being forward. So many people are hesitant, but just question the people you know. You’re not going to find a way in if you sit back and are passive, so as in athletics, you just have to go for it.
Kelvin:I agree that you just gotta do it. You can’t sit on the sidelines. There’s no excuse to not have a voice, right now. You have Twitter, IG, TikTok, Snapchat, LinkedIn, Polywork, Ladder. Use what’s out there to build a voice. People have built podcasts with massive followings just by talking about their views online, or they have parlayed that into a job or an advisory role. So I think you just have to find a way to do it. Somebody will find you. Lindsey—we both know this—if you’re good, they will find you, so go out and be your best self. Kara talked about imposter syndrome. Just be yourself, put yourself out there, love what you do and somebody will find you, but you have to take that first step.
Kara: JJ, a final word?
Jennifer:You can find me at the Justice Dept., and I have a million people they can invest in.
Kara:Thank you guys so much, this was such an incredible panel.
Jennifer: Thank you.
Lindsey:So nice to meet all of you.
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