My experience as a woman founder trying to raise capital was one of walking into rooms full of men in suits. I’d built a successful and fast-growing business, but was ignored or dismissed by so many who couldn’t didn’t understand or did not want to take the time to understand the beauty market.
I am convinced that the only way to change that for the women entrepreneurs who come after me, is to be part of building a better alternative.
There's so much data to confirm that gender-diverse leadership creates faster-growing and more profitable businesses. There's also plenty of data to confirm that women investors are more likely to invest in women founders. So why has the number of senior women decision-makers in Australian private equity been stuck at 3% for years?
BTW there was one male who did put in the effort to understand the beauty market - so much so he now has a 6 step skin-care routine - and that was Justin Ryan, now my co-founder at Glow.
I am particularly excited about helping purpose-led founders achieve their dreams. Purpose, culture and values are all intrinsically linked, and basically what they mean is: we care about the problem we’re solving, and we also care about how we go about solving it.
Purpose-led businesses wish to make a positive impact - whether that be through creating a great workplace culture, a more sustainable product, a contribution to the community, or a better solution to a problem they care about.
At Glow we feel that purpose-led businesses are the future, and our dream is to make our own positive impact by helping them succeed.
When I think about the why behind starting Glow together with Kate, I think about it in terms of an endeavour of head and heart.
Head: The success of our investments in ecommerce businesses during my time at the Quadrant Growth fund was a real wake up call to me that there is so much opportunity emerging as a result of the acceleration of digitisation and the consequent disruption of existing business models. The venture firms tend to focus on Software as a Service and yet product based businesses are being disrupted as well as a result of migration to the cloud and the internet and in the case of Ecommerce enablers such as Shopify and Afterpay. It is now possible for niche Australian businesses to go global – very few Australian businesses in the past had been able to go global. I find this very exciting and reinvigorating and am now even more passionate about the possibilities.
There used to be only one Silicon Valley in the world and only one true venture capital sector associated with it. But global digitisation has now meant there are silicon valleys all around the world and that includes Australia where over the last 10 years that sector has grown from almost nothing to the point where we have a constant stream of unicorns now emerging such as Atlassian, Canva and Afterpay.
This newly formed VC ecosystem forms the bedrock of an emerging growth equity sector that invests in proven business models but still with rapid growth and scalability enabled by emerging technology. This area has been underdeveloped in Australia as many of the existing growth investors are more akin to buyout funds using debt funding with a conservative and domestic approach to growth and more of a value rather than a growth mindset. The Americans have seen the gap in our market and AKA Brands has bought Princess Polly and Culture Kings and last week General Atlantic swooped in on Maple. Whilst these are great firms it's time for an Australian firm to emerge and fill the gap in the market for future focussed growth equity as the trend is for rapidly growing businesses to stay private for longer, just as we are seeing with Canva.
Heart: Glow will be the third private equity firm for me, but the first time building something from the start. My desire is to partner with innovative, entrepreneurial, values and purpose driven people and businesses that help make the world a better place. At this stage of my career it's not about making the most money, but rather it’s about building something great, and Kate Morris is a key enabler for this.
My partnership with Kate and James at Adore Beauty has been very fulfilling and It’s a great example of building a great Australian business but in this case one that is values based and purpose driven and about making our future a better place. I have been privileged to work with some great entrepreneurs over the years and I have always found that helping them to realise their dreams also meant I realised my own dreams.
By starting the firm from scratch with gender balance targets we can make a step change in moving the industry forward from its low levels of gender balance. By having this approach we will be able to attract and retain the best talent and make better decisions which will lead to better returns for our investors. By applying an ESG mindset to our own firm and our investments we can not only make a difference to improve our environment and increase diversity and inclusion, but we can create future focussed businesses with the right processes and practices to ensure that they can soar for the long term.