It means a lot to me to find financial opportunities investing in companies that I can be really proud of--education companies like Tinybop and Tinkergarten, or companies at the forefront of fair labor practices like Homer Logistics. There are others that haven't launched that I'm equally as proud and excited about--and now one more has launched.
Having a portfolio where half the companies have at least one female founder or person of color has made me think a lot about our culture. It has been a learning experience around language, power dynamics, perception and the value of listening. The same can be said for being a witness to this election cycle--where the double standard is fairly obvious.
The Wing is a home base for women. It’s a multi-purpose space designed to make women’s lives easier, born out of the belief that magic is created when women gather together and take up space.
Located in the Ladies Mile Historic District in Manhattan, The Wing contains all the practical essentials: plenty of place to work, strong caffeine, strong wifi, a clean shower, changing rooms, and an all the electrical outlets your dying phone could ever need. Moreover, it has a community built around diverse perspectives, support and empowerment. Members of The Wing are shaping our culture, our politics, and our technology everyday.
The Wing was actually the first brick and mortar space Brooklyn Bridge Ventures has invested in, closing a month before our investment in Ample Hills about a year ago. Both spaces are about narrative and experience. As someone who works in a space designed to make people feel at home more than they are at work, I can appreciate firsthand how creativity and productivity stems from comfort. People, more and more, want to work in places that bring out our truest selves--not places that remind you that you are at work. Plus, having a shower at a workspace is a godsend for a workout regimen forever getting interrupted by work.
Audrey and Lauren have now taken the first steps in creating an amazing platform to change the face of how women connect and influence society. Professional networking, for hundreds of years, has largely been a male construct, transactional in nature, urgent, and disjointed. Relationships built at The Wing, on the other hand, will have the space to grow and develop over time, leading to entrepreneurship, impact and influence. Informative and inspiring event programming will compliment the experience of the space itself.
The goal for The Wing is to build a supportive, empowering and diverse community--and while the physical space looks great on day one, its culture and values will develop over time with the help of its community, and feedback from members and non-members alike.
As an investor in female founders, and founders of color, I've listened to perspectives of what the investment world looks like to those who don't hold the power, who don't have insider connections, and whose presence isn't the norm.
Inspired by founders like Audrey and Lauren, or Chantel from chloe + isabel, Daniela at goTenna, Christina at Ringly, Nicole at eCreditHero, and others, I've strived to create an investment platform that is the most accessible fund possible. I am deliberate and intentional about what events I attend, what communities I speak to, and how I connect with founders. I've eliminated the need for warm intros, or the requirement for technical founders--or even technical companies. I'm looking for venture returns wherever they can be found--in companies run by a wide variety of founders whose capabilities I've taken the time to get to know, rather than judging by a resume alone. My performance since I began leading deals in 2010 is top quartile, and the vast majority of my investors just came back to support a second Brooklyn Bridge Ventures fund, showing that diverse portfolios can win.
I am looking forward to seeing Audrey and Lauren tackle all of the tough, but interesting challenges growing this company will present. It is important that The Wing not only embraces women outside of spheres of influence, but maintains enough connections to influential women to make the community exciting and worthwhile to join. Their aim is to keep diversity in mind at every turn.
It has been a fantastic learning experience to be a part of this company over the past year, to have Nisha Dua at BBG Ventures as a co-investor, and I hope to continue to be a supportive resource for the entire founder community.
Thanks to Nisha Dua, Nicole Sanchez, Mae Karwowski, Rachel Sklar, Jalak Jobanputra, Miriam Bekkouche, Michele Serro, and Cindy Gallop for reading various meandering iterations of this post and helping me focus on the most important thing--being a supportive investor to a great company with lots of potential.