How To Change Your Wealth Mindset And Dream Bigger
Between the she-cession, cryptocurrency, and personal investing, women and money are top of mind right now. Despite the fact that women control 51 percent of the personal wealth in the U.S., they've been socialized to believe that they are not good at investment decisions — even though research shows they are better investors than men. We spoke with Lindsey Taylor Wood, CEO and founder of the by-women, for-women venture firm The Helm about how women can own their financial confidence.
How can women get into a wealth mindset and dream bigger financially?
Lindsey Taylor-Wood: The very first step to developing a relationship with our own wealth is to decide to give it our full attention whenever we can. For some, that may mean starting a conversation with a friend, a banker, or a financial advisor. For others, that could mean reading a book or signing up for a course. Until we understand the fundamentals of how best to earn, save, and invest, we can't know what opportunities we are being locked out of. I've found that the terms "wealth" and "financial literacy" can be overwhelming to women, but by encouraging them to commit just 15 or 20 minutes a week to understanding the basics of money and planning for a more secure financial future, they can radically change their potential for amassing more wealth.
What are common investing myths we need to remove from the discourse?
Taylor-Wood: It's critical that we dispel the idea that being "an investor" requires a lot of money. If people knew that they could take a tiny amount of money and benefit from it compounding, they would do it more. This is the challenge of living in the era of Shark Tank and Billions; it perpetuates the myth that investing is only for billionaires while investing for so many is totally within reach.
What industries do you see having the most opportunity for women in the next few years?
Taylor-Wood: The opportunities within women's healthcare are endless. We have been underserved for so long and the healthcare space is so vast that it's hard to wrap your head around it all. When people hear women and healthcare I think they immediately think about fertility, menopause, or menstruation, but that's the tip of the iceberg. For instance, gender-specific innovation around prevention, chronic disease, care delivery, and mental health have barely been touched. Keep in mind that women's health accounts for only 4 percent of the overall funding for research and development for healthcare products and services to date, which is both horrifying and energizing when I think about what's possible. It's also why we are proud to have invested in Tia and Mahmee in 2018.
How are female venture capitalists changing the future of work and helping close the wealth gap?
Taylor-Wood: Data shows that not only do women-founded and -led companies have higher financial and social returns than their male counterparts, but also that women lead differently. I find that female-founded companies are more likely to implement solutions, products, policies, and cultures that address the very issues that plague them, like equal pay. We can't have and keep more money (the gender wealth gap) unless we earn more money (the gender pay gap). Equal pay begets other solutions like decreasing our debt (which women have more of) and having enough money to invest (women invest less than men). By investing in other women, female VCs contribute to closing the wealth gap.
Where should one start if they want to pursue a career in venture capital or private equity financing?
Taylor-Wood: Pursuing a career in venture capital or private equity financing should begin with understanding both the landscape and the realities of the job. One of the things that far too few people realize is just how much of a commitment becoming a VC is. The average life of one fund is ten years. If you are passionate about investing in women, it's possible that being an angel investor or a scout is better for you. Start there, see where it takes you, and then decide if something more formal makes sense.
Lindsey Taylor-Wood, CEO and founder of The Helm
Do you have tips for turning a personal passion into a venture success?
Taylor-Wood: My somewhat contrarian take on this would be: don't. Should you be passionate about your business? Absolutely. You can't survive as an early-stage founder if you are not. But I think too many people fall prey to believing that 1) a passion and a viable business are the same things and 2) they need venture capital. It is very, very rare that both of those things are true.
For any founders reading this, what are your essential dos and don'ts in a pitch meeting?
Top 3 Dos:
1. Be prepared: Your deck, model, nor data room have to be perfect but we want to see that you've put real time and thought into what you're presenting. We recently asked someone for their projections and they sent us a total of six numbers. That lack of willingness to put in the work was enough for us to say no.
2. Be willing to admit that you don't have all of the answers yet: It's okay to say "That's a great question, I'd love to circle back on that" during a pitch meeting. One of the most fantastic traits a leader can have is the ability to admit when they need more time to get you the answers to your questions.
3. Know your investor: It's important to make the time to get to know your prospective investor. For example, you should have a clear understanding of what size checks they write, how long their diligence process lasts, and how they've supported portfolio companies in the past. Not every investor is the right fit and the earlier you know this, the more seamless your process will be.
Top 3 Don'ts:
1. Be defensive: I think this is especially hard for first-time founders (myself included!). You've leveraged your network, your resources, and you're understandably feeling vulnerable, so it's easy to take standard questions from VCs whose job it is to kick the tires on your business as a personal affront. Know that it isn't personal and that it's your job to ensure they understand the opportunity.
2. Omit information: For example, if you know your company has a direct competitor and you don't include them in your competitive landscape, it's more work for us down the line and it makes you seem either dishonest or unprepared. Being transparent and giving us all of the information we need to make an informed decision will be helpful to you.
3. Let a "no" convince you that your company isn't worth funding: Most founders take dozens and dozens of meetings before getting even one yes. Fundraising is exhausting and ultimately a numbers game. Be patient. You'll get there in the end.
What are the coolest companies you're watching right now?
Taylor-Wood: We just made our first Fund II investment into a company called Realworld, and we couldn't be more excited about it. It's a platform that uses short, impactful education modules to help young adults make better "real world" decisions about such things as opening a bank account, getting insurance or applying for a mortgage, then connects them directly to a curated list of service providers that fit their preferred criteria. We are also watching two women's healthcare investments from our first fund. The first is Tia, which is reimagining women's healthcare. They recently opened their second clinic in Los Angeles and their telehealth offerings are also flourishing. Second is Mahmee, a digital maternal health care company that uses predictive analytics to provide personalized, on-demand support to new mothers and infants. It's now being sought out not only by mothers and hospital systems but cities that want to integrate their services.
What do you see as the major difference between male vs female founders?
Taylor-Wood: The biggest difference is access; access to capital, networks, press, the list goes on. Even access to things that may be less obvious, like marketing. While men are able to market sexual health and pleasure companies with products like condoms and Viagra, comparable companies focusing on women's health and pleasure are shut out of Instagram, Facebook, and even NYC's MTA because they are considered to be "explicit."
How can women take advantage of The Helm's offerings and invest better?
Taylor-Wood: For those who are reading this and looking to get into investing, we'd love to talk to you about opportunities to join Fund II or our new Membership Community.
Fund II: The Helm is an early-stage venture firm investing in game-changing companies founded by women. To date, they've invested in industries from Connected Hardware and Workforce Management to Women's Healthcare — including Tia, which was the largest Series A led by a woman in 2020. Now raising their second fund ($25M+), they have already welcomed LPs like Airbnb co-founder Joe Gebbia, VC Howard Morgan, and USC Annenberg Dean Willow Bay.
Membership to Our Investor Community: This offering is for individuals who are new to angel investing and may not have the capital or desire to join the fund at this stage of their investment journey. We are thrilled to have already welcomed leading women from companies like TikTok, Reddit, REI, Airbnb to our community. The fee is $750 a year and there is no minimum amount you must commit to investing in the companies we share. Worth noting: you can join the group if you aren't an accredited investor and still have access to the content, education, and community activities but you must be accredited to invest. For more information, see The Helm.
Want to get smarter about money? Check out Brit + Co's The Money School!
Theresa Gonzalez is a content creator based in San Francisco and the author of Sunday Sews. She's a lover of all things design and spends most of her days momming her little one Matilda.