People 04 December 2018
When Monique Idlett-Mosley was twenty-two years old, she talked herself into a sales job at USA Today that she was in no way qualified for. The woman interviewing her decided to play the long shot and give her a chance. That gamble paid off and now Idlett-Mosley works to help other woman in the same way she was helped – by giving them a break in a way the majority of others will not – by funding their business ideas.
Idlett-Mosley makes the magic happen via Reign Venture Capital, which she founded with business partner Erica Duignan Minnihan. It was in business school that Idlett-Mosley met Minnihan. Idlett-Moslet was smart to partner with her as Minnihan was already active in angel investing and involved with 1000 Angels.
“Together we are able to provide our portfolio with unique guidance on both capital and business strategy needed to accelerate growth, build a successful company, and get them to exit,"
Minnihan has spent her entire career in finance, working with public companies in investment banking at both Citigroup and Credit Suisse for the first eight years of her career. For the last twelve years, she's been investing in early-stage private companies, with transactional experience on hundreds of investments spanning over a decade. “Together we are able to provide our portfolio with unique guidance on both capital and business strategy needed to accelerate growth, build a successful company, and get them to exit," Idlett-Mosley says.
It was meeting and talking to Minnihan that led Idlett-Mosley down the investment trail and to found Reign Ventures, a $25 million fund. Reign is “an early stage investment firm that focuses on women and minority led startups.
The fund invests at the Seed and Series A Stage in promising technology and tech-enabled startups with high-potential founders" and has worked with companies that include LISN and Appy Couple. Since 2009, black women have received only .0006 percent of all tech venture funding. In an effort to change that, Reign ventures also serves as a mentorship network.
Idlett-Mosley's career has included working in sales, marketing, and public relations for clients that included Kanye West, Verizon, Burrell Communications, T.I., and Timbaland. Then, in 2008, Idlett-Mosley married Tim “Timbaland" Mosley and then served as CEO of Mosley Brands and Mosley Music Group, whose roster includes Timbaland, One Republic, Nelly Furtado, and Chris Cornell.
She is also the Founder and Executive Director of Always Believing Foundation, which seeks to find innovative and empowering solutions to combat childhood obesity and to promote healthy lifestyles and expression through education and communication. Since 2014, she served as a National Trustee for The Boys & Girls Clubs of America. In addition to the previously mentioned roles, Islett-Mosley is also on the Board of Directors for The Miami Bridge, a south Florida based nonprofit organization that provides emergency shelter, food, and counseling for at-risk youth and has previously served on the board of the Ryan Cameron Foundation.
Idlett-Mosley offers a unique approach to leveling the playing field for women and minorities when it comes to raising capital. Women and minorities receive less than 1% of total venture capital dollars annually. Why? Because of the homogeneity of investment managers, she says. “Take a look at the top Venture Capital funds, and you'll find the investment team is 99% white males."
It doesn't make sense considering that women and minorities contribute billions in investment dollars to the institutions (such as pension funds and insurance companies) allocating capital for investment, she explains. “It is critical they be active as investment managers and as founders receiving that funding. A big roadblock for black and women founders is 'unconscious bias' on the part of investors. As black women, we don't suffer that handicap when evaluating a deal."
Idlett-Mosley has truly taken a page from her background in entertainment (and managing artists) to build a machine that allows startup founders to find real success. “In the music industry, we find the 'it' factor and in-house we nurture the artist, from a development perspective and we provide all support through a machine." Within that “machine" they have PR, marketing, digital, legal, and any additional else that might be needed to build a successful brand and artists. “There are many correlations between the two. I have not experienced any successful person get there alone."
One of the most important things women need to do, Idlett-Mosley says, is to support one another and be more willing to invest in one another. “We will see women who don't blink an eye at contributing hundreds of thousands to charity, but are absolutely paralyzed by the idea of making a $25,000 investment into a woman-led startup. Men, on the other hand, often get their funding from the guys they went to college or business school with. She says that as women, we have to be more comfortable talking with each other about investing, and supporting each other as business leaders. “It's not a favor. It's not charity. It's an investment. That's the way men look at it when they invest in their friends and colleagues."
"In order to achieve greater success, women need to start thinking bigger," Idlett-Mosley says. “We tend to aim much lower than we could, because we have fewer role models to look to when it comes to building a billion dollar business." From her point of view, many founders make the mistake of not realizing they need an addressable market of at least a billion dollars to be investable. “Instead of pitching investors their outsized goals, they present a “conservative" scenario that doesn't get any interest." She and her partner are making great strides to change that, one company at a time. “It takes an ecosystem of founders, investors, mentors, and employees; but that work is being done and we are on our way there."
Personally, I am over the top excited that we are on the cusp of turning the page on not only a new year but also on a new 10-year window of opportunities and possibilities!
You may be thinking, whoa…I am just embracing the fall season…yikes… it is tough to think about a new decade!
Yet it is this groundwork, this forward thought that you put in place TODAY that will propel you and lead you into greatness in 2020 and beyond. Designing a new decade rests in your ability to vision, in your willingness to be curious, in your awareness of where you are now and what you most want to curate. Essentially, curating what's next is about tapping into today with confidence, conviction, and decision. Leading YOU starts now. This is your new next. It is your choice.
Sometimes to get to that 'next', you need to take a step back to reflect. Please pardon my asking you to spend time in yesterday. Those who know me personally, know that I created and continue to grow my business based on enabling the present moment as a springboard for living your legacy. So, indulge me here! True, I am asking you to peek into the past, yet it is only in order for you to bring the essence of that past forward into this moment called NOW.
One of the best ways to tap into what's next is to clarify what drives you. To design a new decade, ask yourself this question about the past ten years:
What worked? What were my successes?
Make a list of your achievements big and small. Don't type them, but rather use ink and paper and sit with and savor them. Move your thoughts and your successes from your head, to your heart, to your pen, to the paper. Remember that on the flip side of goals not attained and New Year's resolutions abandoned, there was more than likely some traction and action that moved you forward, even if the end result was not what you expected. Once you have a full list of a decade's worth of personal and professional accomplishments, think about how this makes you feel. Do you remember celebrating all of them? My guess is no. So, celebrate them now. Give them new life by validating them. Circle the successes that resonate with you most right now. Where can you lean into those accomplishments as you power into the decade ahead?
Now comes a tougher question, one that I used myself in my own mid-life reinvention and a question I adore because in a moment's time it provides you with a quick reconnect to your unique inner voice.
If it were 10 years ago and nothing were standing in your way, no fear or excuses to contend with…what would you do?
Don't overthink it. The brilliance of this question is that it refocuses purpose. Whatever first came to mind when you answered this for yourself is at its core a powerful insight into defining and redefining the FUTURE decade. Bring your answer into the light of today and what small piece of it is actionable NOW? Where is this resonating and aligning with a 2019 version of yourself?
Then, based on your success list and your answer to the above question, what is your 2020 vision for your business and for the business of YOU?
Designing a new decade begins as a collection of 3,650 opportunities. 3,650 blank slates of new days ahead in which to pivot and propel yourself forward. Every single one of those days is a window into your legacy. An invitation to be, create, explore, and chip away at this thing we call life. One 24-hour segment at a time.
While you have a decade ahead to work on design improvements, you have the ability to begin manifesting this project of YOU Version 2020 right NOW. Based on exploring the exercises in this post, begin executing your vision. Ask questions. Be present. Let go of 2019 and the past 10 years so that you can embrace the next 10. Position acceptance and self-trust at the forefront of how you lead you. One choice at a time.
Don't get bogged down in the concept of the next 10 years. Instead position clarity and intention into each new day, starting today. Then chase every one of those intentions with an in-the-moment commitment and solution toward living a legendary life!