View of NYC from the rooftop of Ink 48

View of NYC from the rooftop of Ink 48

This is not a contest. This is not charity. This is not a grant program. And it's definitely not TV...as usual.

This Is A ‘Who’s Who’ of Private Equity Elite Bringing Over $100 Million To Invest In High-profit, Fast-Growth Woman-Owned Businesses

The Biggest Untapped Financial Opportunity in History

  • Closing the Gender Gap is estimated to boost US GDP by 9% Eurozone GDP by 13%, Japan GDP by 16%.
  • Companies with a higher percentage of women in top management experienced 35% higher Return on Equity  and 34% higher Total Return to shareholders.
  • Emerging Global Talent Crisis resulting in ‘Brain waste’ due to widespread gender gap caused by traditions, conservative attitudes and social norms. Global economy will face demographic shock of a scale not  yet observed.”
  • SOURCE: Nadereh Chamlou = Gender Is Smart Economics (World Bank 2009); Connecting Corporate Performance and Gender Diversity (Catalyst, 2004) Stimulating Economies through Fostering Talent Mobility (World Economic Forum, 2009) The Gender Corporate Gap report (World Economic Forum, 2009)

Mr. Cross is a former Sr VP and shareholder with Kidder, Peabody, and has participated in the start-up of over 40 companies, including Google, PayPal, Inktomi and Napster. Named to the International Task Force for a World Financial Center, he is a Founding Board Member of both the Ann Arbor Angels and the Michigan Venture Capital Association.

Mr. Cross is a former Sr VP and shareholder with Kidder, Peabody, and has participated in the start-up of over 40 companies, including Google, PayPal, Inktomi and Napster. Named to the International Task Force for a World Financial Center, he is a Founding Board Member of both the Ann Arbor Angels and the Michigan Venture Capital Association.

“Kim Lavine has unyielding persistence and a drive to succeed the likes of which I have seldom encountered. She is pragmatic, street smart, and always willing to try new things. I would give her my highest recommendation.” Terry Cross

Jack was as shocked as I was about the 4% statistic. He told me the problem wasn’t a conscious decision on his part to not invest in women-owned businesses; the problem was, women weren’t asking him for money. They weren’t even pitching him.

I asked him, “If I vet and qualify women entrepreneurs to pitch you, will you come—and will you bring your money?” He answered, as long as it wasn’t in New York or San Francisco, he would come at his own expense and bring his own money. He was tired of the usual venues and travel logistics of those two cities. I thought they were two of the reasons women weren’t pitching investors. I wanted this to be a public venue with excitement and glamour—and publicity—like that which surrounded Fashion Week at Bryant Park. When I suggested Hollywood, particularly the Roosevelt—a historic hotel flush with old and new Hollywood glamour, he seemed intrigued and answered:

"Yes. Just make it about money—not about women.”

I could never have done it without the help of Terry Cross. I could never have even anticipated the complexities of the deal, or the emotional chess game one had to play to get it done. I wondered what all the entrepreneurs did who didn’t have such a resource available to them. I would meet many of them in the coming years, and most had a sad story to tell. Terry was not only doing this for me, he was doing it for many other women. He was always the smartest guy in the room, and the most generous with his time and priceless expertise.

Jack Ahrens of TGap Ventures in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and his partner Pete Farner have negotiated multi-million dollar deals with more than a dozen FORTUNE 500 companies including Anheuser Busch, GE, Compaq and P&G..

Jack Ahrens of TGap Ventures in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and his partner Pete Farner have negotiated multi-million dollar deals with more than a dozen FORTUNE 500 companies including Anheuser Busch, GE, Compaq and P&G..

I started with Jack Ahrens at TGap Ventures in Kalamazoo, Michigan. I had met his partner Pete Farner at that fateful first funding event where I met Terry Cross. Together Jack and Pete had negotiated multi-million dollar deals with more than a dozen FORTUNE 500 companies including Anheuser Busch, GE, Compaq and P&G. I figured if I could sell him, I could sell anybody.

I had some of the smartest money in the country enthusiastically behind me. I started calling other connections, including Paul Allen in Ohio, Founder of the Tribe of Angels, a network of over 8,000 VC and angel investors in 25 countries. Carolyn Cassin brought on Lauren Flanagan, Co-Founder of the Minneapolis-based Phenomenelle Angels Fund, investing in women-owned businesses. I had $100 million lined up in three phone calls.

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