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.
Rhoashan Pharmaceuticals CEO Hitha Palepu joins this 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.
In starting her baby food delivery company, Yumi, Angela Sutherland wondered what options parents have when it comes to food they can feed to their children. As a new mother herself, she sought to make her own fresh and organic baby food.
On this week's episode of Behind Her Empire, Sutherland discusses her new baby food business and overcoming the self-doubt that comes with launching a new company.
"I was researching a lot; sort of like looking at peer reviewed studies and clinical trials and epidemiological reports about child rearing. And it really came back to believe that this period of life for nutrition is going to be more important than any other period for the rest of your life," said Sutherland.
She came across highly processed and sugar-filled foods and realized there was a market to offer something different. With her longtime friend, Evelyn Rusli, the two of them took a leap and left their jobs to start a company.
"I think women more than men tend to feel like you don't need to plan more in advance, right. So, you have all these plans, and you can, like, really set it up. And then their hesitation comes from like, is the plan big enough," said Sutherland.
After a month and half, Yumi's first beta was a massive success. The company went on to raise more than $30 million to date and develop a brand following with celebrities like Jessica Alba and Molly Sims.
"A lot of it is finding out, like, who is your audience, like, and making sure that you like, know your audience really well. But what we were really surprised to see was the wide breadth of the audience because it wasn't just for the 1% It wasn't just for the yoga mom," said Sutherland.
Sutherland also talks about the challenges of fundraising as women of color and the lessons she learned as a first time founder.
Engagement intern Joshua Letona contributed to this post.
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Helene Godin spent 22 years working as a lawyer in senior positions and reputable firms, mostly in the media and tech worlds. One day, she decided to open her own bakery.
Today she is the CEO of By The Way Bakery, a bakery that now has four locations and is distributed by Whole Foods nationwide.
In this week's episode of the Behind Here Empire podcast, Godin talks about self care, starting her bakery and steering it through the pandemic.
"If you say jump, I not only say how high, I research anti-gravity lessons because I don't believe in doing anything in a half-assed manner," says Godin.
One of Godin's last jobs was at Audible just as it was being sold to Amazon. She says she became exhausted and burnt out working in the corporate world and moved into baking. She loved the idea of community, which evolved into bringing people together at the dinner table. She thought maybe a restaurant, but that would mean too many nights away from home. So she scaled down and thought instead about a bakery.
"Every time we get an email or a handwritten note about someone saying that we made their day we made their kid's birthday. The wedding was a huge success because of the cake. That sweetness is worth far more than dollars," says Godin.
Engagement intern Joshua Letona contributed to this post.
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