It was a Friday afternoon and I sat on the train, heading home, when a woman across the aisle got my attention. Excuse me, she said, did you just take your baby to work with you? It's just that you are dressed as if for work...
She threw a look at my tailored trousers and at my red patent high heel shoes as if to illustrate the point. I smiled. My five week old baby daughter was strapped to me in a BabyBjorn and fast asleep. Her angelic face relaxed and tilted towards me.
Yes, I said, with a smile. I did.
The woman, accompanied by her partner and two year old son, was very impressed. She called me her hero. And for that afternoon I felt a little bit like one. You see, I had just spent the day running around London getting signatures on a very important set of documents. Documents which govern the very foundation of this firm, of Voulez Capital, and which formally establish its capital base from the first round of investors. And only an hour ago I delivered the fully executed, signed, witnessed documents to the offices of our lawyers so they could proceed to file with Companies House. The firm, which I just spent months preparing to launch, was now officially on the map. It was no longer a vision which I was trying to share with people. It was starting to take real shape, real form.
And yes, as I sat that afternoon in a beautiful client room at Morrison & Foerster's offices, executing the last signatures with one hand, I was holding my baby daughter on my lap with the other.
She will never remember this day.
But this day was about more than just that. With the firm formalised, I was now able to make good on my commitment to our first female founder, our first investee, and to complete on the financial close for this round already scheduled for the following week.
That fact, that knowledge, made this a magical moment. Not only was this going to be a promise delivered on, but it was a testament to how strong, confident, determined women build businesses on trust and relationships.
How I want this firm to do business.
Jo Osborne, an outstanding female founder of Sciapps, had spent the last few weeks working very hard going through our rigorous due diligence process. A due diligence process with a VC firm which technically did not yet exist. Not only that, but a firm which she allowed to lead this round. Yes, I just used the word 'allowed'. Because trust me, she had no shortage of VCs wanting in. Yes, she is that good. And yes, her tech company, which is going to bring much needed trust, transparency and accountability to the skincare and wellness market is that impactful.
This week we announced not just our investment in Sciapps, but also two more additions to what is quickly becoming the "Voulez Tribe" of female founders. Two companies have been accepted into our Investment Readiness Programme. The first, with Nitzan Merguei at the helm, is Medivrse - a Dutch innovative VR company applying that technology in the field of medicine and revolutionising how parents connect and interact with their unborn children. The second, with Hele Väärsi on the founding team, is launching in the UK an environmentally friendly baby and maternity clothes rental business called 9plus1.
I am deeply proud of all three of these women and of their teams and am looking forward to being a part of their unique journeys, helping them build companies that will create real value in the world.
I have founded Voulez to help address a severe lack of gender balance in the traditional VC industry which last year only invested 2.2% of capital in female founders. I have been told many times by traditional VCs that the high quality, female-led deal flow is simply not there.
We, the Voulez Tribe, are going to prove these people wrong.
One deal at a time.
It has been an eventful week for everyone at Voulez. My daughter will not remember sitting on my lap as I signed Voulez and Sciapps documents, or during Skype calls with Medivrse and 9plus1. Those will remain my precious memories. She may or may not choose to follow her mother's professional footsteps. But she will grow up around amazing women like Jo, and Nitzan and Hele. She will run around some of our investee companies' offices and she will absorb the creative, tenacious energy from all those talented entrepreneurs and their teams, which she will then put to whatever use she likes. She will get exposed to amazing ideas across many industries and she will see first hand what women (what people - because at the core of it we are all just people), can achieve when they really want to make a positive impact on the world.
And for that, I deeply thank Jo, Nitzan and Hele, and many more Voulez Tribe members still to join us.