She’s Independent Conversation Series: Naseem Sayani, Co-Founder and Managing Director of Emmeline Ventures

Naseem Sayani headshot

As we are preparing for our next Conversation Series set to take place in June, we wanted to recap some not-to-be-missed takeaways from our previous discussion with Naseem Sayani. Naseem is the Co-Founder and Managing Director of Emmeline Ventures, a venture fund focused on investing in female founders building businesses to help women, in particular, manage their health, build their wealth, and live in a cleaner, safer world. In the full session, which can be found here, Naseem walks us through her investment journey and several of her biggest wins, losses, and lessons learned along the way. Keep reading to find out what we thought were some nuggets of wisdom from our Conversation with Naseem. 

“Feel good about your investment journey and take the wins when you get them.”

One of the most valuable lessons that Naseem has learned throughout her journey is to recognize and appreciate the role of each investment victory in advancing female representation. Despite the discouragement that may arise from witnessing the persistent barriers of inequality faced by women, it is important to acknowledge the progress we have made in the investment ecosystem. Recognizing and celebrating these milestones not only uplifts and motivates us but also highlights the positive impact we are collectively making towards a more inclusive and equitable future.

There is real ROI for that pair of red-bottomed heels.

When discussing the male power dynamic that tends to exist in the workplace, Naseem highlighted the unique ability of women in higher-up positions to connect in ways that men cannot. By embodying our own confidence and authentic interpretation of femininity, which has been historically suppressed in business settings, we can leverage the strength we hold as women and inspire others to do the same. This creates a positive trend, gradually transforming the culture and fostering a more inclusive and empowering environment.

A message to female founders: keep an eye on the equity position you hold in your company.

Understanding one’s ownership is important because the amount of equity stake held affects a founder’s decision-making power and influence over the directions and governance of their company. Additionally, when exiting the company through a sale or other means, maintaining a substantial position ensures higher financial returns, thus enabling female founders to have the necessary capital to reinvest in future ventures or uplift other women in the entrepreneurial system. So, take the initiative to be informed and knowledgeable about your equity position so you can effectively negotiate and protect your interest during investment rounds, partnership formation, and acquisition discussions. 

When evaluating a potential investment, asking the right questions matters. Here are several important ones to consider:

  • Is the idea differentiated or protected from disruption for when the next competitor enters the market?
  • Do consumers care about the product or service and is there white space in the market?
  • Can the idea grow and be scaled?
  • Are there revenue drivers that can be easily identified?
  • What is the founder-market fit and is the founder the best one to build the idea?
  • Is the potential investment in alignment with the investor’s core values and mission?

Having a well-defined set of questions and evaluation process for investments is important for women who want to support future-forward businesses that are catalysts for change. It goes beyond mere financial margins and shifts the focus to aligning investments with one’s personal core thesis. Being knowledgeable and inquisitive about your potential investments ensures that you will have a role in actively reshaping the business landscape, driving innovation, and supporting investment choices that are oriented with your set of values.

“There is significant growth and education that takes place when you commit your own capital, so start participating and start learning.”

While transitioning from theoretical conversations to active engagement is a daunting hurdle, writing actual checks will open yourself up to invaluable knowledge and experiential learning opportunities you would otherwise not experience. Investing is not just about the transaction or the return, but it is a gateway to financial empowerment and acumen that allows the checkwriter to have a tangible impact on the advancement of the companies with missions they care about. Your first check does not have to break the bank, but start somewhere so that the learning process can begin.

Thanks for tuning in and be sure to keep an eye out for future Conversation Series sessions!

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