#SWAAYthenarrative

Monique Idlett-Mosley's Unique Approach To Investing In Women and Minorities

Business

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."

3 Min Read
Health

7 Must-have Tips to Keep You Healthy and Fit for the Unpredictable COVID Future

With a lack of certainty surrounding the future, being and feeling healthy may help bring the security that you need during these unpredictable times.

When it comes to your health, there is a direct relationship between nutrition and physical activity that play an enormous part in physical, mental, and social well-being. As COVID-19 continues to impact almost every aspect of our lives, the uncertainty of the future may seem looming. Sometimes improvisation is necessary, and understanding how to stay healthy and fit can significantly help you manage your well-being during these times.

Tip 1: Communicate with your current wellness providers and set a plan

Gyms, group fitness studios, trainers, and professionals can help you to lay out a plan that will either keep you on track through all of the changes and restrictions or help you to get back on the ball so that all of your health objectives are met.

Most facilities and providers are setting plans to provide for their clients and customers to accommodate the unpredictable future. The key to remaining consistent is to have solid plans in place. This means setting a plan A, plan B, and perhaps even a plan C. An enormous amount is on the table for this coming fall and winter; if your gym closes again, what is your plan? If outdoor exercising is not an option due to the weather, what is your plan? Leaving things to chance will significantly increase your chances of falling off of your regimen and will make consistency a big problem.

The key to remaining consistent is to have solid plans in place. This means setting a plan A, plan B, and perhaps even a plan C.

Tip 2: Stay active for both mental and physical health benefits

The rise of stress and anxiety as a result of the uncertainty around COVID-19 has affected everyone in some way. Staying active by exercising helps alleviate stress by releasing chemicals like serotonin and endorphins in your brain. In turn, these released chemicals can help improve your mood and even reduce risk of depression and cognitive decline. Additionally, physical activity can help boost your immune system and provide long term health benefits.

With the new work-from-home norm, it can be easy to bypass how much time you are spending sedentary. Be aware of your sitting time and balance it with activity. Struggling to find ways to stay active? Start simple with activities like going for a walk outside, doing a few reps in exchange for extra Netflix time, or even setting an alarm to move during your workday.

Tip 3: Start slow and strong

If you, like many others during the pandemic shift, have taken some time off of your normal fitness routine, don't push yourself to dive in head first, as this may lead to burnout, injury, and soreness. Plan to start at 50 percent of the volume and intensity of prior workouts when you return to the gym. Inactivity eats away at muscle mass, so rather than focusing on cardio, head to the weights or resistance bands and work on rebuilding your strength.

Be aware of your sitting time and balance it with activity.

Tip 4: If your gym is open, prepare to sanitize

In a study published earlier this year, researchers found drug-resistant bacteria, the flu virus, and other pathogens on about 25 percent of the surfaces they tested in multiple athletic training facilities. Even with heightened gym cleaning procedures in place for many facilities, if you are returning to the gym, ensuring that you disinfect any surfaces before and after using them is key.

When spraying disinfectant, wait a few minutes to kill the germs before wiping down the equipment. Also, don't forget to wash your hands frequently. In an enclosed space where many people are breathing heavier than usual, this can allow for a possible increase in virus droplets, so make sure to wear a mask and practice social distancing. Staying in the know and preparing for new gym policies will make it easy to return to these types of facilities as protocols and mutual respect can be agreed upon.

Tip 5: Have a good routine that extends outside of just your fitness

From work to working out, many routines have faltered during the COVID pandemic. If getting back into the routine seems daunting, investing in a new exercise machine, trainer, or small gadget can help to motivate you. Whether it's a larger investment such as a Peloton, a smaller device such as a Fitbit, or simply a great trainer, something new and fresh is always a great stimulus and motivator.

Make sure that when you do wake up well-rested, you are getting out of your pajamas and starting your day with a morning routine.

Just because you are working from home with a computer available 24/7 doesn't mean you have to sacrifice your entire day to work. Setting work hours, just as you would in the office, can help you to stay focused and productive.

A good night's sleep is also integral to obtaining and maintaining a healthy and effective routine. Adults need seven or more hours of sleep per night for their best health and wellbeing, so prioritizing your sleep schedule can drastically improve your day and is an important factor to staying healthy. Make sure that when you do wake up well-rested, you are getting out of your pajamas and starting your day with a morning routine. This can help the rest of your day feel normal while the uncertainty of working from home continues.

Tip 6: Focus on food and nutrition

In addition to having a well-rounded daily routine, eating at scheduled times throughout the day can help decrease poor food choices and unhealthy cravings. Understanding the nutrients that your body needs to stay healthy can help you stay more alert, but they do vary from person to person. If you are unsure of your suggested nutritional intake, check out a nutrition calculator.

If you are someone that prefers smaller meals and more snacks throughout the day, make sure you have plenty of healthy options, like fruits, vegetables and lean proteins available (an apple a day keeps the hospital away). While you may spend most of your time from home, meal prepping and planning can make your day flow easier without having to take a break to make an entire meal in the middle of your work day. Most importantly, stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.

Tip 7: Don't forget about your mental health

While focusing on daily habits and routines to improve your physical health is important, it is also a great time to turn inward and check in with yourself. Perhaps your anxiety has increased and it's impacting your work or day-to-day life. Determining the cause and taking proactive steps toward mitigating these occurrences are important.

For example, with the increase in handwashing, this can also be a great time to practice mini meditation sessions by focusing on taking deep breaths. This can reduce anxiety and even lower your blood pressure. Keeping a journal and writing out your daily thoughts or worries can also help manage stress during unpredictable times, too.

While the future of COVI9-19 and our lives may be unpredictable, you can manage your personal uncertainties by focusing on improving the lifestyle factors you can control—from staying active to having a routine and focusing on your mental health—to make sure that you emerge from this pandemic as your same old self or maybe even better.