I Look Like an Investor: Redefining the face of Investing, Influence and Impact

Audio Description

During this unsettling time of the COVID-19 crisis, an entrepreneur community is one we must preserve to make America work. Through efforts like ‘I Look Like an Investor,’ Black female investors are throwing their names in the ring and making their value and potential known—all while lifting each other up and creating opportunities for Black women entrepreneurs. James Seth Thompson with guests Maci Philitas and Lauren Maillian discuss how Black women are pushing through barriers to redefine the face of entrepreneurship and investing.Join us in celebrating Women’s History Month as we highlight these inspiring and impactful women.


00:05 - 00:21

Black women are known trendsetters, brand loyalists, and influencers in the mainstream, but their status extends much further with far-reaching impact. Black women are increasingly contributing as capital providers, entrepreneurs, and investors. The numbers don't lie.

00:21 - 00:55

As of 2018, Black women-owned businesses totaled more than 2.4 million. So today I want to share a conversation between my colleague James Thompson, who heads our diverse market strategy and two fabulous female founders about the ways Black women are pushing through barriers to redefine the face of entrepreneurship and investing. I'm James Seth Thompson. Bernstein's Head of Diverse Market Strategy. I'm joined today by two savvy entrepreneurs and investors, Maci Philitas, CEO and co-founder of On Second Thought and the driving force behind the series

00:55 - 01:10

we'll hear more about later called I Look Like an Investor. And Lauren Maillian, bestselling author, public speaker, CEO and founder of a strategic marketing and advisory company, the LMB group. Inspirational women with fearless entrepreneurial journeys.

01:10 - 01:22

And I'm so happy to have you guys part of this episode today. Thanks so much for having us. Thanks for having us. Both Maci and Lauren have unique stories, and I'm happy that they'll be able to share that with you all today. So, Maci, how about we start with you?

01:22 - 01:57

How about you kind of introduce to the audience all the great things you are doing with OST and beyond? Well, as I said, thanks for having me here today. As you mentioned, I am the co-founder and CEO of On Second Thought. And we started off by creating the ability to take back text messages before they get to the other person. I don't know about you guys, but I've sent a number of messages I've wanted to take back, and it turns out, so have about 71 percent of Americans. And so we got started by me pitching at a competition at South by Southwest. I won first place for the idea of On Second Thought.

01:57 - 02:04

And with that I realized that we had the validation that not only was this a viable business, but also a viable company, but also a good idea.

02:05 - 02:35

So with that, we launched our app that let you undo messages before they got to the other person. We quickly spread to 190 countries, garnered over 125,000 downloads and have been issued a couple of patents. And so now we focus on licensing our technology so that you can take back your payments if you accidentally send money to the wrong person; messages, e-mails, photos, videos, literally anything you send from a mobile or desktop device. And I'm happy to say that we'll be launching a new consumer product in the next few weeks.

02:35 - 02:42

So stay tuned on that. Awesome, exciting. There's certainly some message I wish I could have take you back. You're welcome.

02:44 - 03:15

And Lauren, same question for you. Your resume is long, so don't be shy. I think the audience will greatly appreciate all of the things you've done in your career to date. Well, thank you again for having me here with you, James. And it's always really such a treat to be able to sit down with a friend who's become a colleague. So it's a joy to be able to also be in the studio with you, with Maci, because I have watched her grow and evolve as a woman, as a businesswoman, as an entrepreneur. So I'm thrilled to be here.

03:15 - 03:39

For me, my career started in a really atypical way. And I think the most important part of that is to always remind people, specifically women and women of color, that you can profit from your passion. You can take something that you have, you know, a deep desire to do, that you have passion for and expertise in and find a way to make it a business.

03:39 - 04:04

And so my first company, I started when I was 19 in Monticello, Virginia. So Thomas Jefferson's, you know, wine country, about, you know, two hours south of Washington, DC. Ninety minutes on a good day. And, you know, that was really a real estate investment. So I started very early on after my modeling career or really during the time of my modeling career, investing in real estate. And that was one of those real estate purchases.

04:04 - 04:19

It was a 126 acre farm. I had no idea what I was doing other than I didn't have 126 acres before. And so it sounded like a good idea. You know, you come from New York City, you're like, a two- bedroom apartment or 126 acres?

04:19 - 04:53

It's kind of a no-brainer, but you don't think about what's really required. And so I remember going to the accountant and saying, wow, this is costly, you know, just to upkeep the land, the property. And so ended up kind of working backwards in some ways and landing on a way to make agricultural use out of the property, which was a specific classification called Vineyards Orchards, which sits right next to tree and nut farms. When you look at the tax code, it was really, truly a process of elimination. Like I didn't want to have cattle. I didn't want to, you know, I kind of knew what I could handle and certainly what I absolutely could not handle.

04:53 - 05:12

And there was a thriving but really early viticultural industry at that time. So this was when Virginia had less than 40 wineries.  Now they have more than 200 and they were starting to compare the Monticello region at that time, so early 2000s, to what Napa was, you know, in the 70s.

05:12 - 05:46

And so I took that bet on building a vineyard as a business and then was selling grapes to other wineries that were making what you call vineyard designate wine out of my fruit, meaning that they were purchasing my grapes and saying we're only going to make limited quantity only with your grapes. We're not going to mix it. We're not going to blend it with anything else. And so I was like, wow, who knew it was actually going to be that good? And so after two years of selling grapes and bidding wars from some of the top producers in the region, at the time, I built out a winery and a tasting room opened to the public, a brand called Sugar Leaf Vineyards, August of 2007.

05:46 - 06:20

On the personal side, I was in college finishing my degree at FIT in international trade and marketing. I was pregnant with my first child and opening my first business. So, you know, Q3, Q4 of 2007 was a wild ride. I gave birth to my son December 15, 2007, and I took my last college final December 13, 2007. And I remember having the BlackBerry Pearl and my professors, like, sending me congratulatory remarks on having my child and my final grades.

06:20 - 06:46

And I'm like, yes, magna cum laude. Thank you very much. I'm out of here. So anyway, that was the first business and then, you know, grew it. It made me the youngest self-made winery owner in the country, first Black-owned winery on the East Coast. And then I ended up selling the company when I was 26 and starting, immediately thereafter, a marketing and brand advisory company that I still have today. But initially our focus was on wine and spirits because that was the world that I had, you know, most recently come out of.

06:46 - 07:20

And then with the liquidity from the sale of that business, I ended up angel investing in startups. And that was well before there was the whole idea of women of color being an angel investor, before we had, you know, General Assembly, or WeWork, just before the share economy was the share economy. People were still coworking at Starbuckses and overstaying their welcome. I mean, it was just a very different climate. And we weren't yet, you know, seeing thriving tech businesses in New York. We were seeing really media companies in New York that were playing in the tech space a little bit, social media. But we didn't have the ecosystem here,

07:20 - 07:48

either geographically in New York, we didn't have that ecosystem of Blacks in tech, of people of color in tech. And we certainly did not have an ecosystem of women of color in tech, let alone women in tech. So that then led to starting my third business, Gen Y Capital Partners, where we raised 30 million dollars to invest in early-stage technology companies with the investment thesis that as young successful entrepreneurs, we're going to be hyper connected to people like Maci and other young successful entrepreneurs that are saying, hey, I have an idea, which means you can get in early.

07:48 - 08:10

And that also means that you can hopefully shape the future of their businesses success and hopefully also accelerate their success by being able to plug and play them into the networks that we had established for ourselves. So that's kind of the bird's eye view of my career. I ended up writing a bestselling business book for women called The Path Redefined. The subtitle is really important to me, which is Getting to the Top on Your Own Terms.

08:10 - 08:26

And that doesn't mean that the top is the top. That means at the top is the top for you. And I think it's always so important, especially for women and ambitious women, to realize that it's OK for the top to look different. And then I ended up having a TV show.

08:26 - 09:00

And in the last three, four years, I've been working in a different way with companies on marketing and brand strategy, especially as this idea of storytelling, which is something I think I've always informally been doing. But we've now certainly formally adopted it in the marketing and brand strategy world has become more important. So sometimes I'm also the steward of the brand and the teller of that messaging that I helped to create. Can we just take a pause, Lauren is the most inspiring person I know. So kind of you. No, but because we've been friends and walked through a lot of these phases with each other.

09:00 - 09:22

And so it's just so amazing to see the way your career has just continued to evolve and blossom. Yeah, well, thank you. It's been, it's certainly been a wild ride. And now that makes you say that, it makes me say, since we are on a podcast, I have to say I have a second child. I had her in 2009, Chloe. So I have two kids.

09:22 - 09:54

And, you know, I think, and we'll certainly talk about this more, but I think that whenever people say to me, what's been the driving force, what's been the motivation for you? It's been two things, right? It's one, it's been wanting to be a wonderful mother and also wanting to be a wonderful businesswoman and kind of wanting to debunk every myth that you can't have or do both. And then the other thing is that, you know, sometimes life throws you curveballs. And I've been thrown a few of them and Maci's witnessed them. And you can choose to do one of two things when you have a curveball thrown at you.

09:54 - 10:23

Right. You can choose to let the curveball knock you down completely or you can choose to let it push your back up against the wall and you can choose to push back. And I had my back against the wall for sure, and I chose to push back, and I think that that's so important, and that's something that I think makes women of color resilient. Like when I think about resilience, that's exactly what it is. It's having your back pushed against the wall and pushing back. Right. Pushing back not necessarily to be a force, but just pushing back to stay where you are, you know.

10:23 - 10:53

And so sometimes you have to fight to stay where we are to get ahead. Yeah. Yeah. So obviously, you both have experienced some success. And I know for a fact you're not stopping here. So obviously there were, there are some things and were some things that you had to persevere through. Right. So if on the other end of this microphone, there are other young Black women entrepreneurs who are trying to persevere through these curveballs, you know, how did you actually do some of that? Right. How did you get away from the curveball? Talk us through that a little bit.

10:54 - 11:23

Yeah, I mean, for me, it's no secret a lot of prayer has gone into that. And, you know, something that I've learned on this journey is just because something is hard doesn't mean it's wrong. It's just that some things are really, really hard. It's no secret that when growing a business and starting a business, you need capital. And it's also no secret that it's been really tough for Black women to attract the kind of capital and investment that we need in order to build our businesses, grow them, launch them, etc.

11:23 - 11:44

And so with that, while I was growing up, we were never allowed to just complain when things aren't going our way. Or my parents always required that if we were going to complain about something, we had to have a solution. And so for me, when it comes to access to capital, I was just sick of complaining. I was sick of hearing people complain about it.

11:44 - 11:47

And I thought it was time for us to do something.

11:47 - 12:08

And that's really where the idea of I look Like an Investor really came from, was that I was done complaining. I knew I had friends like Lauren and I know a lot of other Black female investors who are actively writing checks. And I also knew that I had a lot of friends who wanted to start investing.

12:08 - 12:37

And so with that, I thought, you know, how cool would it be if we created this community of Black female investors so that when women who look and feel like us are starting their businesses or even raising growth rounds of equity, that instead of going to Sandhill Road, these women had the first look and the first shot, which then could in turn create economic equality and access, as well as just wealth in our communities.

12:37 - 13:04

And so for me, when in the face of challenges, I look for opportunities and I persevere and I look for ways to take the system that exists and create a new one or alter it so that it works for not just me, but for people who look and feel like me as well. Right. And how has the effort with I Look Like an Investor been going? Talk to us a little bit about the women you are engaging, the connections you're creating because that's very powerful. Right?

13:04 - 13:34

I think that's obviously one of the missing pieces to the puzzle. When we think through how to persevere through these challenges, how is it actually going for you? Well, thank you. It's been going really well. I actually, I knew there was a need when I got started with this, but I didn't realize how large of a need there is or was. And beyond that, I didn't realize that it would have the impact that it has. So we as you know, we've done a few events.

13:34 - 14:05

The I Look Like an Investor summits. So far, we've been to New York, LA, and San Francisco. We've built a community of about 500 women, both who are existing investors, as well as those who want to become investors. And I'm super excited to be able to say that if you have become investors as a result of our programming, and the cool thing about this year is just seeing the way, so 2020 is just seeing the way our programming and as well as our impact is able to scale.

14:05 - 14:31

So we're partnering with organizations that provide those women who are interested in becoming angel investors with the tools that they need and the bootcamps that they need in order to become angels, and then from there connecting them to prominent angel investing groups to really start to move the needle. Because, as we're seeing, you know, when women are investors, when women control capital, more female founders also get the investment that they seek.

14:31 - 14:54

Right. And Lauren, obviously, you've participated in that series and, I witnessed that here in New York City, what has your experience been, being a part of ILLI but also being a mentor and a coach to so many founders and entrepreneurs? It's a tricky question, because I will preface this by saying that it depends on the founding team. Right.

14:54 - 15:21

And so you'll sometimes find that you have a founder of color, I'll take Maci as a perfect example, who then creates a team with the best in class people that they can find, regardless of their color, right. That gets a different response from the investment marketplace than, unfortunately, a founder of color who chooses to partner with an entire team of people of color. Right.

15:21 - 15:39

Just in the perception and again, it's an unfortunate stereotype of what, you know, the CTO should look like, what the engineer should look like. And there are brilliant engineers of color. There are brilliant coders of color. But it's a hard sell. It's a hard sell enough to be the founder of color, especially if you're non-technical.

15:40 - 15:58

And so I think that certainly contributes to the market reception to seeking investment. I think also it depends on how coachable you are. And you have a lot of founders in general, regardless of race, who don't want to be coached. Right.

15:58 - 16:28

Or who don't really want to adapt or evolve. And I think the best entrepreneurs and the ones that are most appreciated by seasoned investors are the ones who listen to the feedback. It doesn't mean you have to even take the feedback, but that you would least listen to it. And so I think that when I look at people like Maci, who is that, OK, wait, I need to, I'm going have to pivot this. I'm going to have to, you know, doesn't mean that the company is completely changing, but there's a different way to go after the market.

16:28 - 16:48

Right. Even I remember when Maci started, she was going, you know, kind of, to each individual to say, hey, download the app. And then eventually she had an aha moment that said, let me go to a carrier. Right. And get a larger, a larger subset of the market to come on board, because I'm also going to get the help of this third-party partnership to also push downloads. Right.

16:49 - 17:23

And you have so many people that might resist that feedback as if it's a personal attack on them. And so I often, especially with founders of color, women or not, I try to encourage them to not take feedback so personally, because it is the one thing that can really, truly hold people back. And in fact, I sit on the board of directors for a nonprofit called Digital Undivided. And it's exactly what we do for women of color. We train and equip women of color founders on everything that they need in an incubator model.

17:23 - 17:42

We don't even call ourselves an accelerator. We call ourselves an incubator for a reason, because there is not just an access gap. There's a knowledge gap of language, of lingo, of fundraising lingo, of startup lingo, of engineering language that can hold people back.

17:42 - 18:11

And depending on where you've come from in your career, your education, maybe you go from our incubator program immediately to the investment marketplace, whether that be series seed, you series A, or your friends and family round, maybe you go from us to a 500 startups or a Y Combinator where we have an official partnership with them as more of an accelerator. But we have prepared you to be entering even the Y Combinator applicant pool at a much more competitive advantage than you would have had had you not taken our program.

18:11 - 18:38

And even there, I'm constantly saying, like, listen to the feedback, be as open as possible, be as nimble as possible, because that's what the other guys are doing, right? They're listening. And when you have an investor that thinks that you'll listen, again, not that you have to take the advice, but they'll at least listen to it, that you're not so hard-headed to think you got all the answers because it might just be through hearing that feedback that you also find your answer. Even if that person didn't give you the answer.

18:38 - 19:09

Right, it may just give you that. Oop. Why didn't I think of that? Light bulb moment. And those things are really, really important. And so when I look at what Maci's doing with I Look Like an Investor, I think the most important thing is to build that sense of community because we are so spread out. And I think even so many women of color who make angel investments also don't know, most of them who have the capital don't have the access to the right deals. So there's a disconnect from quality deal flow,

19:10 - 19:40

right, and the woman who actually has the capital to give you. And so I think that through the community that Maci's creating, that's what I'm seeing, that you're able to connect seasoned, accomplished women who have the resources and the capital to put towards investing in anything. Right. And they choose to invest in startups and maybe those led by women of color, but they have the capital and the discretionary money to choose to invest, but that they're being connected to the right deal flow because the woman who has the resources only needs to be burned but like once to choose to not do it again. Right. Right.

19:40 - 20:01

And so if, and if their version of angel investing is, and again, there's nothing wrong with crowdfunding platforms, so I'm not even gonna call anyone in particular, but I'm not gonna play that game. But if that's their version of angel investing, as in I went on a crowdfunding platform and I gave some brilliant, you know, I don't know, sock drawer concept,

20:01 - 20:24

50,000 dollars, like maybe that's your aha moment and you hit big, right, but maybe you didn't have the right access to the right deal. Maybe there's more, there are other competitive startups in that company that you don't even know about because you don't have your ear to the ground. And so even when we were starting Gen Y Capital, that's what made us so special, was that, and we were really early.

20:24 - 20:54

Right? Like I say, now that's the model. Now, that's the early-stage capital model is to do what we did in 2012. We did that eight years ago. Right. Saying, hey, we are connected to these other entrepreneurs. So we're going to hear about these businesses when the top, you know, rising star from McKinsey or BCG or Google chooses to go and start a company, especially if they're a woman or especially if they're a person of color or especially, and again, my partners were not, they were not women and they were not people of color.

20:54 - 21:25

So we all had unique access to the market. That was special. To be able to come in at the early ground floor, to be able to say, I was one of the first ones in. And now you have people that say that. But then in 2011, 2012, the mindset was, I don't want to be first in, and I'd rather pay more to come in later, on something that's proven, that feels safer. And so if we are opening the market, the investing market to women of color, we have to show them what's safer and we have to show them the right filters.

21:25 - 21:53

And so I think that from Maci's creating, is that ecosystem, where she only has to connect you once or twice and then it's a wildflower effect. Then the next I'm going to only connect you to quality people. Right. And so I think that's what's really special about I Look Like an Investor, and what I see Maci creating in that community. Right. And Lauren and I also think something that you brought up that's so important is not only for the women to have access to deal flow, but also to know how to evaluate the deals. Right.

21:53 - 22:28

And, you know, when you're looking at something on the equity crowdfunding platforms, you see a certain level of diligence, but you don't necessarily know what to look for or what that due diligence list is to look like. And that's also information that we try to share through the interviews, as well as connecting women to resources such as like the Angel Investing Bootcamp, since not only are they, you know, qualified to invest, but also that they become astute investors, just like what you're saying. Yeah. And I've been an adviser to an organization called Pipeline Angels for a long time.

22:28 - 22:32

And when Natalia started Pipeline, that's exactly what it was, right?

22:32 - 22:57

It was, bring together women and let's train them on how to be angel investors in a pretty intensive program that showed them everything from understanding a cap table to the right questions to ask to what to look for in a deck, to how to position yourself to also be a strategic angel, meaning that you're also an adviser to that company. And then at the end of the program, they would invest in a deal together.

22:57 - 23:14

And it was really interesting to watch that final stage because at that point, everyone already came to the table and to the program with a very strong point of view on whatever it is. Right, based upon their professional experience and expertise.

23:14 - 23:39

And then they all had a very different risk tolerance as well. And so when they were co-investing, which is kind of the requirement of the program on the deal, at the end, you know, some people wanted in, some people didn't want in, and some people wanted to put 5K as their shares and people wanted to put 20K. You know, everyone has a different risk tolerance as well. So, and I think sometimes there is, you know, FOMO in the investing world. Right.

23:39 - 24:05

And so someone want go, man, I put five, should have put in 20. But sometimes you put 20 and you wish you would've put five. Yeah, yeah there's certainly a unique kind of overlap between all of our worlds. And I've shared many of the events I participated in. Investing comes in two ways. Obviously there's investing in your community, investing in your business, and your entrepreneurship goals and dreams.

24:05 - 24:35

But what I find, you know, specifically engage in communities of color from investing, meaning from a planning and legacy perspective, is that there are ways to expedite the course correction. And I've started to talk a lot about this idea of the 4 E's is that, I think investors of color and in, whether in entrepreneurship or in capital markets is, I think it requires exposure, experience, education, and equity.

24:36 - 24:48

I feel like regardless of where we stand in the work we're all trying to do, those are the four things that are required, because historically, those are the four things that we have not experienced as people of color.

24:48 - 25:11

And I really appreciate, you know, the two of you sharing your insight on how individuals who are looking to be the next Lauren and Maci, you know, with whatever their career path and entrepreneurship vision is, you've provided some really good nuggets for them, but to me, it really comes down to that.

25:11 - 25:35

Maci, are there any, not by name, but, you know, how have you been inspired by what LE has actually done for some people? Any, you know, cool anecdotes about some success stories or anything along the lines? Yeah. I mean, I think one immediately comes to mind from a woman, actually, a couple immediately come to mind. One is from the community standpoint. The other is actually from the investing standpoint.

25:35 - 25:53

Actually, both stories come out of L.A. as well. So there was a woman who attended the ILLI Summit in L.A. and she attended our pre-summit dinner. She had this idea of going around the room and having everyone introduce themselves and what they do.

25:53 - 26:18

And when it got, when it, her turn came up, she explained to us that her daughter felt so convicted by the fact that so few kids in her grade could read and had access to books that she decided to read 1000 books in a year. This girl is like eight or nine years old. And to cap it all off, she also wrote her own book.

26:18 - 26:48

And what was so cool about this woman's story is, number one, she built an entire foundation, an organization around her daughter's work. But to the way the community just rallied around her in terms of propelling her daughter forward, propelling the work forward and also just being that landing ground for them. And so as a result, at the end of the year, the girl read over a thousand bucks, she'd done a couple of speaking engagements.

26:48 - 27:05

She like I said, she wrote her own. She donated hundreds of books to local organizations. And this woman even not only joined us in L.A. for the event, but she was so inspired that she flew to New York to also attend that summit as well.

27:05 - 27:36

And so I think that's one of the really cool things about this community that we've built, is that it's not just around capital, but it really is about uplifting and empowering each other in whatever you're doing to change the community and to bring it forward. Another really cool story came out of L.A. as well, and this woman attended a panel and the summit and she was so inspired by hearing one of the fireside chats speaker speak that she decided to become an LP investor in her fund.

27:37 - 27:51

And it was the first investment of this kind that she's ever made. And as a result, she's actively looking at investing in more startups founded by women of color and more venture funds created by women of color.

27:51 - 28:15

And so to see the way this community is truly impacting our economics and just the way we're also just pushing each other forward is really inspiring. And for me, I just feel grateful to have the opportunity to have facilitated this. The intentionality that's embedded in ILLI, I think, is the magic.

28:15 - 28:41

Right. I think there's, you know, women and men because I've gone to a lot of them. Yeah. We all feel inspired to participate in kind of correcting the discrepancies that exist today. Sure, they've probably gotten better, but we're nowhere near where it actually needs to be. So, again, I know I've done this on multiple occasions, but I just want to thank the two of you for the great things that you guys have done and the great things that you will do.

28:41 - 29:15

You know, what parting kind of advice would you impart to some of our listeners who are either looking to be investors, angel investors, but certainly in the founder and entrepreneur community? My biggest piece of advice to women and women of color wanting to explore investing in startups is to first make bets and make investments where you know that if your capital won't help, your network and experience will, right?

29:16 - 29:26

So the check is great. Everybody needs to keep the lights on. You got to keep your servers paid, like, great. But there is a point at which that's not enough.

29:26 - 29:57

Right? And you're going to need advisory. You're going to need some kind of counsel. If you can give that to the company, you also decrease your risk profile as an investor, because you know that if that means your portfolio company might need a partnership or an introduction to somebody else who could become a client or become another investor or who could help implement or execute a certain stage of the business or the business plan, you make that introduction because you have skin in the game. You want them to be successful.

29:58 - 30:20

And it also puts you in a more powerful position. Versus, because I'm certain that the women of color who have the financial resources to make investments of their capital also have great networks and they're probably constantly being asked, much like I am, to tap into my network. Right. As an example, I don't tap into my network for companies that I'm not invested in or I don't advise. Right.

30:21 - 30:50

Because that's a privilege of being on my cap table or having my thought leadership as your adviser. But it also puts me in a better position to make the ask of my network when they know that I'm actually vested. So if I go to them and say, hey, I'm invested in this company and I've taken a bet on them, and I think you would really, and I've done my due diligence and I've, you know, and I trust them and I believe in them. That is a much more powerful statement than just, hey, somebody on LinkedIn asked me to make this connection for you.

30:50 - 31:05

Like that does not hold as much weight. Right. And so it puts the investor in a better position to be able to leverage the resources that are available to them within their network. And it also gives them a better chance of helping to accelerate the success of the company that they've chosen to invest in.

31:05 - 31:28

Awesome. That's excellent advice. But what I'd say, and this is so simple, but it's actually kind of what's driven my entrepreneurial journey is, get out there and do it. I'm not saying, you know, go quit your job or go and, you know, invest your entire 401k into a venture company. But what I am saying is do what you can. Right.

31:28 - 32:01

So when I started On Second Thought, I still worked full time at Marriott. I just worked, you know, 18 hours a day. I do, you know, the eight to nine hours at Marriott, and then eight to nine hours when I would get home, on On Second Thought. And so we make room for the things that we, that are really important. And if there's an entrepreneur who's considering starting a business, make time for it and go out for it and try it. And if it takes off, awesome. Quit your job eventually once you raise the capital or you have the sales. But if it doesn't, then that's fine.

32:01 - 32:35

You still have a, you know, an income. From an investment perspective, I also say, get out there and do that. If you're not yet in a place where you're comfortable potentially losing 10,000 dollars, 5000 dollars, because I think during the panel you said, only invest the amount that you're comfortable losing. Ten thousand percent. Yeah. If you don't want to lose it, don't invest it. So if you're not comfortable, you know, losing 5,000, 10,000, 100,000 dollars, and I do think that's actually where the equity crowdfunding platforms come in play. Right. You can test out your thesis for 100 dollars or two hundred dollars.

32:35 - 33:10

And, you know, that's what we spend, you know, and a couple of weeks in Starbucks or whatever. And so maybe a month maybe a month in Starbucks. I don't know. I don't live in America anymore. I don't know what you guys are paying. Fair enough.  Starbucks is less expensive. Sure. But, yeah. You know, you can do what makes you comfortable as you build that comfort. And so there's no reason why, whether you're an entrepreneur or an investor, that you can't get started today. Yeah.

33:10 - 33:37

To Maci's point, of when she started On Second Thought and she was at Marriott, she also left no stone unturned, like there was no opportunity, you know, that Maci did not go after and it didn't matter what the application process was, like, you know, that's the time to take those risks because you do have nothing to lose. Right? Like you have your time. Sure. But you're investing your time instead of, you know, going out with your friends, you're investing your time and trying to build your business.

33:37 - 34:05

So what do you have to lose? You have nothing to lose. And I just I saw Maci be relentless about every single opportunity. And also remember that a lot of the opportunities that are out there for startups are designed to weed through the people who are serious. Right. And so, like, if the application is ten pages long and you choose to not do the application, OK, that application was designed to make sure that at the end, so that to make sure that that pipeline was, that was their due diligence. Right.

34:05 - 34:39

Like, can you get through this ten pages, let's say, maybe you think it's arduous and overly burdensome. Maybe. But that also means that by the time you have finished it, they have a clear idea and picture of who you are. And by the time you get called in for a meeting, you're able to have a really productive meeting instead of a surface meeting. But those things are designed for that reason. So, like, when you have the time, when you have the ability to take those kinds of risks or investments of your time, take them, make them, do it, because most people are not. Most people are going, Oop! I'm going to give up on page four of ten, you know, like, save the draft and return to it.

34:39 - 34:46

But don't don't sleep on those opportunities either, because there's so many people out there who are not completing those tasks.

34:46 - 35:19

Great words of advice, a personal thank you. Every time I participate at an ILLI event, I was told by my daughter, who wants to do a lot of great things, she wants to play basketball and go to Spelman, but she wants to own a food truck business. And create barbecue sauce and, you know, but I do spend a lot of time sharing with her the stories of great women like yourselves. So a personal thank you for the work you do and the inspiration you provide, even little girls at age 11. And certainly, thanks for joining the conversation today. I appreciate it.

35:19 - 35:23

Thanks for having us. Thank you so much. Thanks for joining.

35:24 - 35:57

Just a side note that we'll be taking a short hiatus starting next month to focus on the changing post-election investment landscape and admittedly give everyone a bit of a break in this horrific calendar year. We'll be back in February 2021. Frankly, a year that can't come soon enough. Feeling refreshed, energized and optimistic with some very exciting new episodes. Bernstein: making money meaningful for individuals, families, and foundations for over 50 years. Visit us at Bernstein.com.

James Thompson
Senior National Director—Diverse and Multicultural Wealth Segments

The information presented and opinions expressed are solely the views of the podcast host commentator and their guest speaker(s). AllianceBernstein L.P. or its affiliates makes no representations or warranties concerning the accuracy of any data. There is no guarantee that any projection, forecast or opinion in this material will be realized. Past performance does not guarantee future results. The views expressed here may change at any time after the date of this podcast. This podcast is for informational purposes only and does not constitute investment advice. AllianceBernstein L.P. does not provide tax, legal or accounting advice. It does not take an investor’s personal investment objectives or financial situation into account; investors should discuss their individual circumstances with appropriate professionals before making any decisions. This information should not be construed as sales or marketing material or an offer or solicitation for the purchase or sale of any financial instrument, product or service sponsored by AllianceBernstein or its affiliates.

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