In The Room with Kelly Graziadei and Joanna Lee Shevelenko
Welcome to a new episode of The Room Podcast! For this episode of The Room, we chat with Kelly Graziadei and Joanna Lee Shevelenko, General Partners of f7 Ventures, a seed investment fund composed of seven senior female operators. With their combined 16 years at Facebook, Kelly and Joanna explain what they learned from their time there and how they want to use their experience, relationships and capital to make a difference now as they lead investments and operations at f7. Kelly and Joanna manage f7 because they see a huge issue with the amount of women that have “a seat at the table” in the investment industry and they want to encourage more women to be founders.
This week’s key themes include the barriers to entry as a woman in the investment world and the importance of giving everyone an equal starting place in the industry, common mistakes that new founders make, and how the women of F7 can be beneficial at any stage in the startup process. Let’s open the door.
To read more about Kelly and Joanna’s new approach to investing, read their interview with Forbes.
Key Theme 1: Barriers to entry as a woman in the investment world and the importance of giving everyone an equal starting place in the industry
When Kelly left her position at Facebook, she joined a venture capital firm as an entrepreneur-in-residence and got the opportunity to sit around the investment table each week. As she began meeting with early stage founders on a regular basis, Kelly was shocked to learn how few female check writers there are and how few venture firms are led by women.
“I think it currently sits at 4%. It was pretty unbelievable, even when I say those stats out loud and I know them and know them well, I was all the more shocked when I learned what little venture funding was going to women and other underrepresented individuals, 2.2% for women, even less for black, Latin X, and LGBTQ plus founders.”
Since venture is a very relationship-driven business, Kelly explains why we need to change the networks and diversify the decision makers to diversify who is ultimately getting funded. F7’s vision is to create an equal starting line for bold entrepreneurs.
Key Theme 2: Common mistakes that new founders make
Kelly and Joanna share some common mistakes they see in founders, and when we say mistakes, there are inevitably mistakes that are essential in order to grow, but some mistakes other people have already gone through to help future founders avoid the same ones. One common mistake amongst founders is the initial go-to-market plan, including over optimizing for logos and top line revenue only to have that inevitably change when it becomes when the business model isn’t sustainable. As a result, the brand is hurt and can be a tough thing to bounce back from. Another mistake they see is with hiring labels and management over execution. Especially at early stages, Kelly and Joanna emphasize the importance of setting fair expectations with employees about what they’re building, why they’re there, and what they can expect from you as a founder. When there’s a mismatch of expectation from the start, that mistake catches up. Lastly, while conviction is important in starting a business, they warn founders of holding on too long to an idea and not recognizing the need for a pivot.
Key Theme 3: How the women of F7 can be beneficial at any stage in the startup process
As the f7 team is composed of talent who have a collective 140 plus years of deep operating expertise across almost every single function, including product engineering, operations, business development, sales, and marketing, f7’s goal is to extend that experience and expertise to founders so that they can avoid some of the mistakes that they’ve made in their careers. F7 also believes in the importance of having more female check writers in order to support more female founders, creating a virtuous cycle and network of diversity. The team also makes sure they are an outlet of constant support from the initial call.
“You work with us in Pre-seed and Seed we’re so hands-on, we’ll be with you through every step of the journey to get you to that Series A, to get you to product market fit, and you have the tools and the foundation to scale from there, the founders that we work with that we’ve invested in, even out of this Fund One, we’re working with them really closely to set them up for success.”
For a full list of f7’s portfolio companies, click here.
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