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Interview with Kay Koplovitz about Women Philanthopy and Impact Investing

Updated: Sep 9, 2021

In 2016, when Kay launched Springboard Growth Capital less than 1% of Angel Investors in the country were women. Now about 30% of Angels are women, which helps women startups. However, very few women receive that next bigger round of funding to help accelerate their growth.

Kay Kopolovitz is a media pioneer, she founded and served as CEO of USA Networks, and is now part of NBC Universal. She also Co-Founded Springboard Growth Capital which operates as a VC Firm, out of New York and invests in only women-led, fast growth companies. Although not a traditional VC firm, they utilize special purpose vehicles to invest in larger rounds of high growth companies.

In an article in Fast Company, the end of last year Kay said that 'Wealthy Women donate billions of dollars each year. They should also invest in female founders of companies.' "There are not enough women investing in women yet women are a big part of philanthropy. They give a tremendous amount of money and they have things they believe in. But they can also invest in missions and values they hold dear. If a woman is on a VC investment team, that firm is 70% more likely to invest in a women-led company."

If you have been following the Tampa Bay Business Journal over the last year, you will have read about the various VC and Investment firms launching in this area, all started by men.

At the end of June, the TBBJ ran an article about how almost every major startup organization in this region is being led by women. (Embarc Collective, Tampa Bay Wave, Tampa Bay Innovation Center, Innovation at Tampa General Hospital, and Tampa Bay Tech) But yet, according to Linda Olson, Executive Director of Tampa Bay Wave, "there is a lack of funding for women-led startups and also a lack of female investors across the state."

Last week they reported that Tampa Bay Companies raised nearly $50 million in July alone, with a total of $110.2 million in the first six months of this year. How many of those companies that received investments were founded by women?

In 2020, these women-owned business statistics stated:

** Private tech companies led by women achieve 35% higher ROI.

** Women-founded companies in First Round Capital’s portfolio outperformed companies founded by men by 63%.

I reached out to Kay to get her take on this situation and what she is hoping to accomplish with Springboard Growth Capital. She told me that they are focused on the C, D, & E growth rounds. Since launching they have invested 12 times in 5 companies. One of those companies The Real Real, disrupted the Consignment Industry and went public in 2019. When they did, the investors made 3 times return on their investment.

The Real Real went to so many firms to talk to them about their company and found they kept being turned down because the VC firms, run by men, didn't get the idea of a resale company that authenticated luxury consignment. They now have millions of shoppers and consigners, and 17 retail locations across the country.

"There is a huge luxury market that women understand and women have a better understanding of what women want." Kay stated.

Women also have a different viewpoint on health than men do, as most women take care of doctors appointments and health care for their families and possibly for their parents. There are so many companies that are working to alleviate health issues related to women.

She said women suffer more than men when it comes to heart disease, autoimmune diseases and alzheimer's. Right now there is research being done that says Menopause could be a contributor to alzheimer's symptoms and how it can be detected earlier.

Kay went on to explain, "Women have their values when it comes to philanthropy, those same values can be used to invest in companies to achieve the same outcome through impact investing. Women could be investing that same money and get financial returns,

If wealthy women decided to take 5% of the money they donate each year and invest in women founders of companies they believe in, it would make a huge difference."

Kay also founded Springboard Enterprises, which is a non-profit and accelerates the growth of entrepreneurial companies led by women through access to essential resources and a global community of experts. According to the numbers on their website, since starting in 2000, over 800 Springboard portfolio companies have created more than $35B in value, executed over 225 exits to strategic acquirers, and achieved 22 IPOs.

To learn more about Springboard Growth Capital ~ providing visionary women founders with the capital to build market leading consumer brands go to their website.

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