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Adventure. Danger. Mountains of Money. Sex (Gender.)
Fixing the VC Gender Gap will boost U.S. GDP 9%. One woman is determined to try, connecting women with $200 million from the Hollywood red carpet.
New York, NY August 2015: Critically acclaimed bestselling business author Kim Lavine has a dream, but it’s no ordinary dream, it’s The Next Big Dream, Millions Will Compete & Millions Will Win…Millions. In Kim Lavine’s dream, the only thing standing between women startup entrepreneurs and a $100 million is themselves. You might say Lavine is just a dreamer, but she’s got $200 million in investor commitments backing her up. “Things are bad for women entrepreneurs and it’s getting worse,” says Lavine. “We own 48% of all businesses, but receive less than 3% of all private equity to start and grow those businesses, and recent research indicates that number has decreased from 4%. As a result, only 3% of women-owned businesses have annual revenues of a million dollars or more. At the same time private equity is growing, with $30 billion in Venture Capital and $25 billion in Angel Capital available last year, an average 7% increase over 2013. It’s not acceptable and I’m going to change it.”
Unlike others, Lavine is putting money where her mouth is, leveraging her reputation and personal relationships with leading investors across the country to line up funding opportunities for women that simply do not exist right now. “Never in a million years would I have imagined that raising hundreds of millions in investor commitments would have been the easiest part of my epic journey to connect women founders with private equity,” says Lavine. “The investors are just a piece of the problem. More women need to ask for the money, but first they need to know how. I’m determined to show them how.” Lavine will do that, starting with what to wear to how to pitch billion dollar value propositions, in a reality competition/elimination television series she’s producing, culminating in a Hollywood red carpet gala event with $200 million in investor money up for grabs. “This isn’t a contest, charity or a grant program, and it’s definitely not what you’re used to seeing on television,” adds Lavine. “In fact, it’s not about women at all, it’s about money and the fact that we deliver higher returns to investors, when given the chance to compete.”
This serial entrepreneur and mother of two has been on a mission to connect women with capital to start and grow their businesses since raising it herself twice from a group of angel investors in Michigan. The brutally honest account of how she did it turned her nonfiction business startup how-to MOMMY MILLIONAIRE (St. Martins, NY 2007) into a bestseller, earning her appearances on The Today Show, Rachel Ray, CNBC, CNN, Oprah & Friends, and features in USA Today, Inc, Forbes, Business Week—to name just a few—where she shared tips and advice with millions. Lavine started a business at her kitchen table after her husband lost his job and within two years was selling products she designed into the nation’s top retailers including Saks Inc, Macy’s, Bed Bath & Beyond, Whole Foods, and thousands of other stores, when she realized she needed investor capital if she was going to grow.
“I had gone beyond what my bank could provide and needed what is called mezzanine financing, which comes from private investors like angels and venture capitalists,” says Lavine. With no business degree and no previous business experience, Lavine penetrated the elite world of private equity investors, not only raising capital to grow, but recruiting world-class talent to work for her company including Terry Cross, a Wall Street ‘Master of the Universe,’ appointed to a World Taskforce for a World Financial Center and Founder of the Michigan Venture Capital Association, who helped startup Google, PayPal and 50 others, and David Hathaway, who helped turn the drawings of Sam Butcher into $700 million a year in net revenues as the CEO of Precious Moments. Lavine figured that if she could do it, other women could too. But they weren’t, and she wondered why.
But then things took a turn for the worse when the bottom dropped out of the economy and the Great Recession sent the retail marketplace into crisis, resulting in the bankruptcy of most of her national retail accounts and the drying up of credit lines she had depended on to fund large-scale Chinese production. “I didn’t think things could get worse,” recounts Lavine, “and then my dad died. I was in the middle of a divorce and was the primary parent of two children, one of whom is autistic. Everyone was reinventing themselves so I did too.” Lavine bought her company back from investors and founded MM Media, going on to negotiate a Hollywood production deal and ultimately producing a reality competition-elimination reality show she sold to Oprah’s fledgling network OWN, before walking away from the deal. Then Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm called on Lavine, asking for her help creating entrepreneurial initiatives to kick-start the state’s stagnant economy. “I told the Governor to connect women with capital because women were starting businesses at twice the rate of men and 70% of new jobs come from small businesses.”
Lavine is not alone in her criticism of the shocking discrimination in the private equity world. From a headline-making multi-million dollar sex-discrimination suit against a Silicon Valley major player earlier this year, to a recent study by Babson College, the facts are indisputable and eye opening. The conclusion by Babson researchers is there is enormous untapped investment opportunity for venture capitalists smart enough to look at the numbers and fund women entrepreneurs. “The train is leaving the station,” cautions Lavine, referring to the increase in investment activity in an economy generating startups at a level that rivals the pre-dotcom bust of the late 1990’s. “There are historic levels of capital out there to fund business growth right now. Who knows when economic conditions like this will come around again? We can’t afford to leave women out of this private equity revolution because fixing the gender-equity investment gap will increase US GDP 9% without one taxpayer dollar.”
Tired of trying to put a square peg into a round hole in an attempt to fix deep-seated societal issues at the heart of blatant discrimination, Lavine is taking a new approach. “It’s clear the old boys system is not working for women, so we’re building a new one,” says Lavine, “taking the deal-making process out of backrooms and boardrooms and putting it in the spotlight on the Hollywood red carpet.” Given this woman’s passion and persistence despite almost insurmountable obstacles, Lavine has built an impressive platform to accomplish her inspirational dream with the help of a world-class team of creative professionals making up MM Media. Leveraging award-winning Hollywood production values, the songwriting talents of a multiplatinum rock star, and an experienced agency insider responsible for some of the most successful digital advertising campaigns, they’re in the business of producing branded entertainment designed to be Fortune 100 CEO vehicles. “We’re going to make history on a world stage,” Lavine states matter-of-factly, implying resistance is futile. “Investors and big brands are in a daily race to stay relevant. With The Next Big Dream, they’re going to have to choose between being part of history, or the past.”
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About Kim Lavine: Kim is the critically-acclaimed bestselling business author of THE MOMMY MANIFESTO (Wiley NY, 2009) and MOMMY MILLIONAIRE (St. Martin's NY, 2007) and Founder of MM MEDIA, an integrated multimedia marketing company bringing together world-class award-winning creative talent with cutting-edge engagement and distribution strategies to create ground-breaking experiential events. Kim is on a mission to empower people to follow their dreams, inspiring them with hope, honesty and faith. (Read more at www.kimlavine.com/about )
Identified as America’s Expert on Inspirational Business Advice, Kim touches and inspires millions around the world through her appearances on The Today Show, Rachel Ray, Good Morning America, NBC & ABC news, CNN, CNBC, FOX, NPR, Oprah & Friends Radio Network, and features in USA Today, Country Living, Guideposts, Inc, Business Week, Entrepreneur, Women's World, and Forbes to name a few.
Publisher’s Weekly in a Starred Review has called Kim’s book: “A top-notch, how-to guide on launching a business. Lavine’s human and authoritative story make this one of the most engaging and useful resources available for readers hoping to convert their passion into a healthy company…a rare gem.” USA Today says “Mommy Millionaire is loaded with resources for a fledgling business person…armed with a good idea and boundless energy.” Barbara De Angelis, PH.D.—#1 New York Times Bestselling Author says, “Mommy Millionaire is an inspiring gift and road map to success for anyone who’s ever had a dream.”
Strategy and Business Magazine chose Mommy Millionaire as one of the best business books of the year. “Kim Lavine’s memoir-cum-business-primer breaks new ground in the crowded field of startup sagas. By seamlessly blending the epiphanies that she gained through launching a business with practical lessons, Lavine has packaged a core set of new-venture tenets into something fresh and relevant."
Read more about The Next Big DreamTM at http://thenextbigdream.com WGA Registration 1528465. Listen to Kim Lavine narrate the story of her journey at http://www.slideshare.net/mommymillionaire/the-next-big-dream