Behind Her Empire: Hitha Palepu on Women Founders and the 'True' Failure

Yasmin Nouri

Yasmin is the host of the "Behind Her Empire" podcast, focused on highlighting self-made women leaders and entrepreneurs and how they tackle their career, money, family and life.

Each episode covers their unique hero's journey and what it really takes to build an empire with key lessons learned along the way. The goal of the series is to empower you to see what's possible & inspire you to create financial freedom in your own life.

Hitha Palepu

Rhoshan Pharmaceuticals CEO Hitha Palepu joins this week's Behind Her Empire to talk about how she became an angel investor focused on women-founded businesses and her latest book, "We're Speaking: The Life Lessons of Kamala Harris."

Palepu is the daughter of immigrants who came to the U.S. from India. Her father lost his hearing when he was 10 years old. He got through school by lip reading; it wasn't until he arrived in the states he got his first hearing aid.


"All he wanted was the chance to get started in the scientific world. He had his master's in chemistry," said Palepu. He worked scrubbing toilets at McDonalds while trying to land a job as a bench chemist. Her mother left behind a life of privilege in India.

"I think that sums up who I am today, I was born a daughter of incredibly tenacious, hard-working parents who got rejected over and over and over again, and never let that stop them," said Palepu.

With the help of her parent's money manager, Palepu realized she could become a serious investor. It wasn't until about her third investment she felt like calling herself an actual investor.

"I do like to get my hands dirty with my companies and help out however I can. I'm not here to tell them how to run [them], I invest in people that I trust to run their companies," said Palepu.

She learned quickly that women face more hurdles as CEO and investors, as opposed to men, who often get a pass when their companies fail.

"It makes me so mad," she said. "Not only are we not allowed to fail, [but] the business press loves building up a woman CEO or any underrepresented CEO or founder just to tear them down."

For Papelu, business losses don't define failure. "There's just a failure to progress, staying still and not growing and not striving and not learning. That's the true failure."

In this wide-ranging conversation, we hear about Papelu's time in the corporate world, why she ultimately decided to go out on her own, and the many lessons she learned from her first "failure" in the startup world.

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March Capital Raises $650 Million Fund to Invest in AI Startups

Samson Amore

Samson Amore is a reporter for dot.LA. He holds a degree in journalism from Emerson College and previously covered technology and entertainment for TheWrap and reported on the SoCal startup scene for the Los Angeles Business Journal. Send tips or pitches to samsonamore@dot.la and find him on Twitter @Samsonamore.

March Capital Raises $650 Million Fund to Invest in AI Startups
March Capital founder Jamie Montgomery. Illustration by Dilara Mundy.

Santa Monica-based venture outfit March Capital announced Feb. 3 that it raised its largest fund to date, a $650 million investment vehicle that will be used to back up to 15 startups focused on delivering new uses of artificial intelligence.

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samsonamore@dot.la

The Three Best Ways to Work With Your Startup Board

Spencer Rascoff

Spencer Rascoff serves as executive chairman of dot.LA. He is an entrepreneur and company leader who co-founded Zillow, Hotwire, dot.LA, Pacaso and Supernova, and who served as Zillow's CEO for a decade. During Spencer's time as CEO, Zillow won dozens of "best places to work" awards as it grew to over 4,500 employees, $3 billion in revenue, and $10 billion in market capitalization. Prior to Zillow, Spencer co-founded and was VP Corporate Development of Hotwire, which was sold to Expedia for $685 million in 2003. Through his startup studio and venture capital firm, 75 & Sunny, Spencer is an active angel investor in over 100 companies and is incubating several more.

The Three Best Ways to Work With Your Startup Board

When launching and running a startup, your board of directors is one of your most valuable assets. If you already understand why you need a board and how to structure your board, it may be tempting to think you can cross that item off the list. But building a board is just the beginning. Now you’ve got to get down to business—together.

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admin@dot.la

This Week in ‘Raises’: Saviynt Lands $205M, Pagos Secures $34M

Decerry Donato

Decerry Donato is a reporter at dot.LA. Prior to that, she was an editorial fellow at the company. Decerry received her bachelor's degree in literary journalism from the University of California, Irvine. She continues to write stories to inform the community about issues or events that take place in the L.A. area. On the weekends, she can be found hiking in the Angeles National forest or sifting through racks at your local thrift store.

This Week in ‘Raises’: Saviynt Lands $205M, Pagos Secures $34M
This Week in ‘Raises’:

While it was a slow week of funding in Los Angeles, security vendor Saviynt managed to score $205 million that will be used to meet the company’s growing demand for its converged identity platform and accelerate innovation.

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