On this episode of the LA Venture podcast, Untapped Capital, Alltruists and Kiva founder Jessica Jackley talks about her experience supporting entrepreneurs across the world, and offers advice to founders on what to do when encountering doubt -- from themselves or others.
"The pursuit of an opportunity, a vision, like an imaginary world that you want to make real. You're running after this thing, you're pursuing it without regard to what you have in front of you," she said. "So there's always going to be something wrong."
Jackley's journey as an entrepreneur started when she founded Kiva, a nonprofit that lends money to low-income entrepreneurs. She started the company and moved to East Africa where she heard stories of people starting businesses with just $100.
"I wasn't asked to swoop in and help or save. I was asked strategic questions about where they could access loan capital, where they could access business training," said Jackley. She added that the individuals she met through the service didn't want handouts.
Kiva offered $200, $300 loans at no interest. That model helped build successful small businesses. Every year, they saw a raise on how many loans they could offer. The company has so far facilitated $1.5 billion in loans since the business started in 2005.
More recently, Jackley founded Untapped Capital and Alltruists. Untapped gave her opportunities to invest in unexpected companies and watch them rise, much like Kiva. Alltruists was born out of the pandemic.
"I really wanted to figure out a way, especially as we were on lockdown, like how do we not just have our lives be waiting for the doorbell to ring and another package is dropped off and we just consume it, right? What, what would it look like to reach back out into the world in a way that is helpful," said Jackley.
She created a box subscription service that provides kids with activities that can benefit them and the world. The company's last box focused on making a pollinator hotel for bees.
From her ventures, Jackley recognized when pursuing your dreams, something will always go wrong.
"There's going to be days when you are told, or you're telling yourself, 'well, I'm not old enough', 'I'm too old'. 'I don't have enough experience'. 'I have the wrong experience', whatever," said Jackley. "Just take more steps anyway towards that thing. Cause that's what great entrepreneurs do."
Hear more of the episode, in which Jackley talks about her goal to disrupt the volunteer economy and more.
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In this episode of LA Venture, Julie Wroblewski talks about starting Magnify Ventures and helping modern families.
Wroblewski worked with Melinda French Gates to start Pivotal Ventures. For Wroblewski, it was her dream job as she got to lead venture capital investment strategy for five years. One of the focus areas at Pivotal was around caregiving innovation and American family homes.
Wroblewski cites a report from one of Magnify's partners that estimates the care economy at $648 billion in the United States, already larger than the pharmaceutical market. Wroblewski's fund is writing up to $2.5 million checks into companies that will transform life, work and care for modern families.
"I started to see what I thought was a very exciting and still overlooked category of investment in venture capital around the care economy, and family-focused technology and was also seeing a lot of flow and founders," said Wroblewski.
As an investor, she is particularly interested in tools like household optimization that help families be both more efficient and joyful. She also wants to let parents know they don't have to be experts. Technology can help give them access to what they need, when they need it.
"Technology is moving closer into our lives all the time and solving increasingly human, complex, difficult problems, including, how we care for and manage care for children and our loved ones--the things that are most personal to us," said Wroblewski.
"We've seen such a wave of technology innovation in the workplace. You know, we now use so many different tools to help increase our productivity at work, to improve our health and well being in some cases in the workplace," she added. "And I think we haven't yet seen the same sort of investment in innovation move into some areas of family life and household management. And so I think that that's going to change."
dot.LA Audience Engagement Intern Joshua Letona contributed to this post.
On this episode of Behind Her Empire, Jenna Lyons talks about struggling to find her passion to becoming a fashion icon and co-founder of the beauty brand, LoveSeen.
Lyons started her career as intern at Donna Karan then went on to join the design team at J.Crew. After nearly 30 years, she decided to build her own empire. The idea of being in the fashion industry was something that came to her when she learned how to sew.
"Everybody knew, you know, 'I'm going to be a nurse, I'm going to be a teacher, I'm gonna be a doctor.' And I didn't know and I was so grateful to find this passion for making clothes," said Lyons.
As a young teen, Lyons had a genetic disorder that made her teeth yellow and created bald spots on her head and scars all over her body. She was already about six feet tall and was teased by bullies. She said nothing fit her right as she tried on all kinds of sizes. It wasn't until she took a sewing class and made her own clothes that she noticed a difference.
"I was really shocked when I started to make clothes. The whole conversation around my image or what I was wearing, or how I looked, shifted dramatically. And the power of something like that is so overwhelming. It was the first time I had positive feedback on something that I had not only worn, but I actually made it myself," said Lyons.
The passion to make clothes changed Lyons life as she went off to Parsons School of Design at the New School in New York. However, the school's expensive tuition became too much and Lyon returned home for the summer to be a waitress. Just before she did, however, she found a job posting for J.Crew as an assistant designer in men's knits.
She put her her resume out there and got an interview with the head of human resources. She finally heard back at the end of the summer with a job offer. Lyons took the job without even asking the salary. Twenty-seven years later, Lyons moved from her role as president of J Crew to begin her own company focused on reinventing fake lashes. She was inspired by the very condition that she had that impacted her lash growth. Lyons even got her own HBO Max series.
"I never in a million years, never in a million years, would have thought that I would have gotten to a place in my career where people actually want to take a picture of me or my outfit," said Lyons.
In the rest of the episode, Lyons gets in-depth with her childhood, why she left J.Crew. and how she reinvented herself.
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