Is the money your personal money or did you sort of raise a micro-fund?
Hermione Way: Personal, it’s money my husband and I have taken out of our salaries. But I am now trying to raise a mini-fund because I was overwhelmed by the response I got after I posted on Facebook I was looking to invest in female founded startups -It was shared over 60 times and over 100 women reached out to me and I am trying to follow up with all of them, but I only have enough cash to invest in less than 10% of them hence why I’m putting together a fund now.
Any plans on actually starting a small VC firm focusing on female founders?
Yes! As I said above, I’ve been totally overwhelmed by the response, even for such a small amount of investment, it’s clear there is a gap here that needs to be filled. I have already reached out to some wealthy friends of mine to invest in the fund, lets see where this goes…
Are you looking to invest the 10k in only a couple of startups or more?
Many, I’m writing $500 – $1,000k checks. We know it’s not a lot, but getting that first check no matter how big or small can give you the confidence to get going. I remember when I got my first investment in 2007 for my first startup Newspepper.com, from Michael Acton Smith, Founder of Moshi Monsters, It gave me a huge boost to get working on my startup and I haven’t stopped since!
Besides your own ventures with Vibease and Techdrive, how many startups are you advising or have you invested in in the past?
A lot! I am a ‘yes’ person, so I say yes to a lot of things. I’m am advising many female founded startups, but this will be the first time investing cash. I’m also currently raising a $5million A round for Vibease – we’ve done $1.5 million in sales this year – so I know what it’s like to be on both sides of the table – from the entrepreneurs perspective and from the advisor/investor’s perspective.
Any tips for female founders who want to get you on board? What are you looking for besides MVP?
You can always gain insights into someone’s personality from the minute you start communicating with them – are they hogging too much of your time, are they clear and concise in their emails, if you ask them which apps they’ve used lately, what do they answer?! I always pick up on these little traits, but for investing passion is the main thing and being a nice person always helps. I need to feel I could have a laugh with this person because this is likely to be a 10 year relationship in the startup world.
Editor’s note: It’s safe to say that Hermione is one of the main reasons I had the guts to move to San Francisco. I first met her in November 2012 (when she starred in the reality show “Start-ups: Silicon Valley”), doing an interview with her (that unfortunately never got published, but I ended up doing a story about her later). Like me, she moved to the US as a tech reporter and when I asked her for advice, all she said was, “Just do it”. She’s been an inspiration ever since and I met a lot of great people through her. Hermione is also known for connecting people in the Valley, doing meetups for women in tech and other global events like Startup World. Also, she gives good Euro-hugs – which is a rare thing in California.