28/30: Thank You Female Founder Friends & Boost Boys
Every founder will tell you that it is critically important for you to have fellow founder friends. You need 3 founder friend categories:
- Peer Group – going though the same woes as you. You can share tips, tricks, insights, wins, and misery together.
- Slightly Ahead Group – if you’re a Seed stage company (raised $1MM or more) you should be hanging out with a few Series A stage companies (raised $5MM or more). This way you can see the blockades coming up in the road just ahead
- Slightly Behind Group – less of a group and more 1-3 founders you really believe in and admire. If you’ve raised $1MM or more, these folks should have raised about $250k – $500k. You are to be their guide for the potholes coming up again in their road.
I believe firmly in the strength of the community and that shared experience. I will repeat the caution from everyone else in the tech community that you need to keep that 3rd group limited to very few people. You do have to be mindful of energy management.
As the common advice often goes: it was more important for Katrina Lake to IPO than to help as many founders as she could along her way.
On the one hand, I get it. Stay focused, work hard. do good work, build a billion dollar company. Then your success speaks for itself. You can aggregate your learnings. You give other women someone to see at the top, and you normalize successful women for investors.
On the other hand, I call BS. If we don’t help each other, no one else will.
I believe there is a balance you can achieve. I know that building my tribe of fellow founder friends has made me a better saleswoman, tougher negotiator, and superior investors wrangler. Because we get better when we learn from each other. The knowledge of the hive. Choose your hive wisely.
Below are some of my favourite founders. Exceptional folks who you need to know!
Female Founder Friends
- Maricel Saenz – Maricel is a brilliant business wizard. In our mock investor meetings her questions can get tougher than the real thing! Maricel is simultaneously vibrant and balanced. She can be realistic and measured; then come alive with energy and passionate. To me, she is an unstoppable force. I can’t wait to watch all that she will do. Maricel is extremely precocious with wisdom beyond her years.
My favourite thing Maricel has ever said about me is that she would call me if she ever needed to get bailed out of jail or something of similar troublesome nature where you only get one call. That makes me feel like I’m dependable and can solve problems. I got you, girl! Thanks.
Thank you Maricel for holding my secrets. Thank you for going on impromptu day road trips down the coast and reading books at Moss Distillery Beach. Thank you for pushing me to be a better businesswoman and uplifting me to achieve my dreams. Thank you, Maricel.
- Namrata Mujumdar – Let’s take thoughtful and go even further: Namrata is beyond thoughtful. She is just as extra as me in that regard. And Namrata has lived. She has done some amazing things. I love when I get to hype her up! She ran some serious bills in DC after being appointed by Obama himself. Then, of course, casually got an MBA at Kellogg; and now runs her own start-up. Totally chill. Namrata is determined and lovely. I am thrilled and grateful I get to call her friend.
Thank you Namrata for being a strong cheerleader, especially in the hours when I need it most. You are a solid rock as a friend and an inspiration as a leader. You’re an excellent speaker and I love watching you share your wisdom with others. Thank you, Namrata.
- Tanya Menendez – another powerhouse (indeed isn’t that the point of this?). Tanya is fantastic at bottom-lining: getting to the core of what needs to be said or done. She has an incredible ability to succinctly encapsulate key points. Tanya is also a seasoned entrepreneur. She has serious chops. I recommend asking her for negotiating or investor wrangling advice — she’s exceptional at both.
Thank you for helping me focus in on key messaging. Thank you for being a boss. Thank you for modelling how to be a strong founder and leader. And that includes moments of vulnerability and humanity. Thank you for helping us all keep laser focused on building our billion dollar businesses. You are an exceptional founder. I am grateful to know you and glad I get to learn from you. Thank you so much for telling it like it is: “this is so much bigger than you — you have to succeed for all who come after us.” Thank you, Tanya.
- Hayley Leibson – Hayley has got an eclectic collection of experiences. Altogether, she has fascinating stories that will keep you on the edge of your seat. To me, Hayley is introspective. When we talk about business she seems to be very analytical and aware of everyone’s impact on each other. Hayley strikes me as the kind of founder who would want to maintain a peaceful working environment.
Thank you Hayley for our wonderful chats. Your life experience makes you a strong and empathetic leader. Thank you for inviting me on your many adventures. You really helped me jumpstart different activities to do. I really admire how on top of events and activities you are. I loved chatting about San Mateo with you–I truly know every apartment building that is beautiful and walkable to the train.
- Darragh Dandurand – I am so delighted we met at Boost. You have an incredible combination that couples creativity with operational prowess. You are able to get things done while
- Erica Pearson – I still remember our heart to heart at the Big Push Event. That was among my first deeper fellow founder chats about the dark side of entreprenurship on our wellbeing, health, and bodies.
- Elize Shirdel – Another one of my Canadian founder greats. Elize is a pistol.
- Krystyn Harrison –
- Emily Mills –
- Tenzin Seldon –
There are even more women I will be writing about soon. (There are so many amazing folks.)
While at Boost I met some fantastic founders who I’m lucky to call friends and who I deeply admire.
Justin, Jacob, & Lucas – first, I love your house. But in all seriousness, you guys are scrappy!! Justin, Jacob, & Lucas can stretch a
Ty & Wallon – gentlemen.
Lucas Rizzotto –
Kevin – you have such a wonderful smile.
Tom and Ozan –
Ben Lovell – Thank you so much for driving cross-coutnry with me! It was actually so much fun. Thank you for the amazing pictures that are all over my wall.
Tyler Rouch – Thank you for being my Boost #1 fan. I so appreciate how much you root for me and my success at every turn.
Honourable mention tech friends, who aren’t from the above categories:
- Chris Bennett – Chris will crush you at any game. He couples his natural ability with disciplined training. He’ll train on bots for months then come crush your dreams. If that’s how he has fun (he likes to have fun, and winning is fun), imagine how fantastic he is at business? Natural talent fused with insatiable learning and consistent practice. I also enjoy learning about Chris as a person. I thoroughly enjoy our introspective chats.
- Erin Keller – We basically met and became best friends. It all started by snickering at jokes while our team was winning at code names so badly that one of our teammates said: “is the other team the colour tan?” (only true board game fanatics will get this joke). We giggled and became besties. It was magical. She’s still pretty new in my life so I’m not sure I’d really do a justice at extolling her virtues just yet (she’ll have to wait til I’m 60 hahah). What I can say so far is she is diligent, hardworking, disciplined, driven, smart, hilarious, fun, thoughtful, generous, and all around awesome. Erin is going to achieve whatever she sets her mind to.
- Shantenu Agarwal – Shantenu is such a fun guy who collects friends everywhere he goes. I had a really lovely dinner with him and his friends in San Francisco. He has an impressive background and is a great public speaker. I would like to work with him someday! I bet it would be an awesome experience. For now, whenever and wherever either of us travel, I look forward to our paths crossing.
- Pat Turcotte – Pat is hungry to win. He has an incredible ability to innovate on ideas. He could teach a course on the Lean Start-up. He gets it way better than most founders, even me. Pat is also great at seeking out good mentors to learn from. His curiosity and inquisitive nature will take him far.
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