CLOSING THE GAP.
Jesse Draper is proving that it takes a Valley Girl to take down the gender bias of Silicon Valley. We call this Sweet Valley High Schooling Your
As founding partner of Halogen Ventures as well as creator and host of the 2015 Emmy nominated television series,“The Valley Girl Show,” Jesse is Sweet Valley High Schooling our asses about what it means to put your money where your mouth is. A 4th generation venture capitalist focused on early stage investing in female founded consumer technology, Jesse is challenging the industry's penchant for funding more men than women.
Though her dad opened the investing doors to her at a young age, investing isn't just in her DNA. She's had unparalleled access and and easy education. She was one the first people to test AIM (AOL’s Instant Messenger) and participated in the first ever Skype video conference at 16. She's said that women take fewer risks with their money, but wants them to put it to work.
With a background in investing and media, that's double the reason to invest in her.
More from Jesse below.
Name: Jesse Draper
Instagram Handle: @jessecdraper
Business Instagram Handle: @halogenvc
Where do your drive and passion come from?
My family. My family is very driven and my grandfather always instilled in all of us that if you do what you love, the money will come with some really hard work. That is where my passion comes from. I feel like I do what I love by supporting female run tech companies every day.
How do you feel as a woman in STEM?
It is a huge advantage to be a female in STEM because there are fewer women. We have a long way to go and we need to encourage more women to enter the profession by giving media exposure to the ones within the STEM industries.
What do you think is a major "miss" for women when it comes to investments?
When it comes to raising money as a female, something I see regularly is that they aren't thinking big enough. We are realistic. We know exactly how much money we need to raise to get where we need to go. This is positive but sometimes we need to think bigger. Women need more of what I like to call the 'billion-dollar mindset' which is 'How do you build this company into a $Billion business?'. When women pitch me and I think they are thinking too small, I will say 'Take this idea. Imagine how big this business could get. How many different revenue streams? How do you find more customers, imagine the biggest business you possibly can with this idea Then multiply that by 100. Then multiply that by 1000. And then come back to me and pitch your company.'
How do we reprogram ourselves to believe that we are good at/with/handling money?
This is a problem buried deep in the history books as men used to control the majority of the nances. Women are still becoming used to handling the money in a relationship. A couple things: Go to every accountant or financial planner meeting with your spouse, don't let your husband make any large financial decision alone. The more exposure you have to finance, the more you will realize that you know more than you think. And what you don't know, you can easily learn. Women also need to experiment with their money more. They feel safe buying a pair of shoes or hard good that is tangible because they understand that. They would feel more comfortable investing in the stock market, companies, etc...if they tried it. It's not as complicated as we make it out to be. Start by investing in a stock that you know. Put your money to work. Don't 'save' it all, invest it, grow it. Play with it.
How do we get more venture dollars to go to women?
We need more female investors. I have found that often, the high net worth women that I meet feel more comfortable writing a $1 Million dollar check to a charity than they do investing in a for-profit venture. I encourage more women with this type of access to wealth to invest in both the non-profit world as well as the for-profit world because you can do just as much good, if not more by investing in women lead companies. By investing in a for-profit female-led company, you are creating more female billionaires of the future and thus more wealth handled by women. This is how we level the playing eld.
How have you successfully navigated such a male-dominated eld?
I am a tough negotiator and I speak up when it's important. I also try and promote the women around me because no one wants to stand on top of the mountain alone.
What are your hopes for young women who are interested in STEM?
I hope they go for it and build the Ubers, Googles and Amazon's of the future with the most diverse teams. If the data proves to be true, diverse teams breed success and with more women in leadership, these companies of the future will be infinitely more successful than those that currently exist.
"Diverse teams breed success and with more women in leadership, these companies of the future will be infinitely more successful than those that currently exist."
What is your biggest pet peeve?
Wasting water. I grew up in the never-ending drought that is California and my husband grew up in Seattle where they have tons of water. I hate the faucet running unnecessarily. Drives me nuts.
What are your biggest fears about running a business?
You can't have any fears if you are running a business. You have to be insanely optimistic and open to pivoting, rolling with the punches and trying new things no matter how terrifying. You have to JUMP.
What's something you'd like people to know about your job that they probably don’t?
I get to bet on people's dreams and I feel incredibly fortunate to be an investor and be able to do so. It's a privilege. It's also a ton of hard work.
IYO-- How can we stay original when we are so saturated with other people's work?
I think the most dangerous place any human can live is inside the box. You need to think outside of the box. Question everything. Don't do things the way other people do. Create a company that solves a problem that you have experienced in a new way. Copycats are boring and they won't get anywhere. I stay original by going to the beat of my own drum. I don't like to do things the way other people do.
What about your career makes you feel the most complete?
I don't think I ever feel complete in my career. I am always excited about what else there is to do. I just closed my first fund and that feels like a good step completed. I like to think that I can always do more and improve and no one has figured it all out. I certainly haven't. I do like knowing I have completed something but the only thing that gives me that feeling is finishing a book. Everything else can be improved or bettered in some way and that is how I see the world.
If you had to trade jobs with anyone else in the world, who would it be and why?
Trump. Just for the next couple of years.
At what point in your career did you find the confidence to really take charge and become the woman you are today?
I'm still finding the confidence but if you talked to me in my 20s, I think you would have met a much less secure woman. I had to learn how to be confident in my abilities and teach myself to trust my decisions.
What's the best advice you've ever been given? Or your favorite piece of #realtalk?
My family always says '80% of success is just showing up' - this has worked well for me.
When you hit a big bump in the road, how do you find a new road or a detour?
I take a step back and go do something else for a little while. Sometimes I give it a night's sleep. I try to look at the situation through different people's perspectives and I talk to my friends, mentors, and advisors about it. Once I have done enough 'research', I make a swift decision and plow forward until I hit another bump.
What song do you sing in the shower when you’ve had a bad day?
Baby got Back by Sir Mixalot. It's my theme song. I have a Kardashian booty.