Elizabeth Galbut, 28
Managing Partner, SoGal Ventures
When she was just 26, Elizabeth Galbut started her first venture capital firm, which she did despite not fitting the typical “middle-aged white man VC ideal.” Moving forward with a “bullish” focus on diversity, Galbut is now Managing Partner of female-focused venture capital firm, SoGal Ventures. “Women are one of the few remaining investment arbitrage opportunities,” says Galbut, who has helped fund more than 45 innovative startups to date. “We are already on the path to be prolific investors of our generation.”
1. What made you choose this career path? What has been your greatest achievement?
While I was in graduate school my father was diagnosed with cancer. In parallel, I was working with a student entrepreneur who was starting Proscia, a digital pathology company. After seeing how difficult it was for the startup to raise capital in Baltimore, and knowing how this technology could revolutionize an industry, I knew that if no one else would invest, then I had to figure out how I could invest myself. This led me to start my first venture capital firm, A-Level Capital.
2. What’s the biggest criticism/stereotype/judgement you’ve faced in your career?
I was told women's opinions don't matter and aren't respected in venture capital. I started my first venture capital firm when I was 26. Many doubted my ability to be a venture capital investor since I didn't graduate an Ivy League school, had no direct investing experience, hadn't built a multi-million dollar company previously, and didn't fit the typical VC profile of a middle-aged white man. Many thought what I was doing was stupid and would fail. Others told me I had no right to be an investor. Even when I had invested in over 30 companies alongside top brand name VC firms, men would classify what I was building as "cute".
Beyond doubts and criticism, I run up against consistent gender bias almost daily. The most vile and unacceptable behavior is the sexual harassment and abuse of power in the industry. I've been asked by a potential investor for sexual acts in exchange for investment. This is not ok.
3. How did you #SWAAYthenarrative? What was the reaction by those who told you you “couldn’t” do it?
I am bullish on investing in diversity. So far, our funds have invested in 45 startups that are revolutionizing how the next generation lives, works, and stays healthy. Being able to support so many diverse founders who are each positively impacting our world, is something I'm incredibly proud of. Women are one of the few remaining investment arbitrage opportunities. By investing with this thesis, we are already on the path to be prolific investors of our generation.
4. What did you learn through your personal journey?
Investing in yourself is one of the best investments you can make, as it's one of the only investments you can truly control. Finding the strength within and confidence to pursue my own path was key to overcoming the negativity and doubts of others. It's quite simple-if anyone says you can't do something, they're really just saying that they can't.
5. What’s your number one piece of advice to women discouraged by preconceived notions and society’s limitations?
Be the change you wish to see in the world. If you keep working at your dreams relentlessly and show up each day, the forward momentum you'll build will be unstoppable.
Photo Credit: afewgoodclicks.com
In 2016, Renee Wang sold her home in Bejing for $500,000 to fund her company, CastBox. Two months later, she landed her first investment. Just a half hour after hearing her pitch, she was offered one million dollars. By mid-2017, CastBox raised a total of $16 million in funding. CastBox's user numbers at that point? Seven million. Fast forward to today. Renee Wang of CastBox announces a $13.5 million Series B round of financing, bringing her funding total to a tidy $29 million. CastBox is now serving more than 15 million users.