Jessica Peltz-Zatulove, Partner at MDC Ventures, doesn’t see motherhood as a roadblock to being a successful investor. In fact, she shared with the ways being a shrewd investor in growing businesses is similar to the experience of raising a child. Read on to learn how Jessica wants to diversify where money flows within the startup community.
What do you look for in the founders you choose to fund?
There are a variety of character traits that I look for in entrepreneurs—it starts with understanding why there's almost this obsessive need to solve the problem they're tackling, and what super powers they have (e.g. domain expertise, customer relationships, etc.) that make them the right person to execute on the vision. We're looking to back founders that are just relentless, despite the inevitable roller coaster that comes with building a business. It's also important that they're aware of their own strengths and weaknesses, and are receptive to receiving feedback. A little chutzpah never hurts either!
What should every pitch deck include?
Every pitch deck should have a concise narrative on the problem you're solving, why there's a (growing) market for it, how your approach is differentiated and defensible, and why you are the right team to build the company.
What stage company are you currently investing in?
PreSeed, Seed and Series A.
How much do you typically invest?
Is there one common thread among all the successful businesses you've nurtured?
I believe one of the most important common threads is being a good communicator. Founders need to wear multiple hats, and constantly need to communicate the business to inspire and attract investors, press, customers, partners, and talent—the list goes on! Having that ability to articulate the value proposition in a way that excites all the different audiences is critical to business success.
What are your top three tips for creating a pitch that stands out?
1. Help the investor empathize with the problem and the people it impacts.
2. Make them understand why it is an INCREASINGLY relevant problem (i.e., why the market size is growing).
3. Prove that you're the only person in the world who can do the job!
What mistakes do you find mama founders are most apt to make while fundraising?
Don't let other people lead a narrative focused on negativity and business risks; be aware of unconscious biases by staying in control of how the information is presented. Keep optimistically reinforcing the story around the growth potential and market opportunity, while still demonstrating that you're aware and have thought through the risks/challenges.
How do women-owned businesses impact economic development within the larger community?
When over 90% of investors are men and less than 3% of venture dollars go to female founders, there's an over-represented voice in the technologies that are impacting and shaping our future. It's imperative that we keep championing women and ethnically diverse businesses (and fund managers!) to ensure we're creating products and services that resonate for everyone, not just a subset of the general population.
Why is right now a great time to be a mama in business?
There's never been more cultural support for empowering women. Fortunately, we have more and more examples of successful startups led by moms that can be role models (e.g. Lively, Parsley Health, etc). Motherhood provides the ultimate arsenal for a crash course on entrepreneurship. Time management, problem solving, multi-tasking, delegating, showing patience and empathy to negotiate with a finicky "customer" — these experiences are invaluable training for building a successful business. Moms have a different perspective on human needs and compassion, which also creates a unique lens for identifying problems and communicating with consumers in an authentic way. Plus, let’s be honest: mamas just get stuff done!