By investing in young companies, venture capital (VC) firms help shape the future. Early-stage VC firm Moxxie Ventures — led by founder and general partner Katie Jacobs Stanton — is working to influence that future in a positive way by investing in founders who make life and work better, especially in the areas of climate, healthcare and economic mobility.
Stanton founded Moxxie Ventures in 2019 with venture capital’s inequities in mind. Moxxie Ventures makes an effort to help women and under-represented founders.
- Moxxie Ventures' mission is to support exceptional founders building software solutions to hard problems that impact many people.
- Influencing outcomes in climate, healthcare and economic mobility is important for Moxxie Ventures.
- Operating backgrounds matter in venture capital, and so does a commitment to due diligence.
“We don't only invest in women and/or under-represented founders, but we try to be intentional about finding ways to advance equity and fairness in venture," Stanton says. "For example, we try to find diversity in our founders, their early employees and executives and even co-investors. And if we don’t become investors in a diverse team, we still try to be as helpful as possible, whether it’s providing feedback, operational guidance or introductions to other possible investors.”
First Republic recently spoke with Stanton on her journey to venture and what makes Moxxie Ventures special.
What was your journey to founding Moxxie Ventures?
Katie: It started when I moved to Silicon Valley in 1999 and got my first dream job as a product manager at Yahoo. That experience taught me you could love your job and work with great people building important things, which set a high bar for me.
As I continued on as an operator at Yahoo, Google, Twitter and Color Genomics, I started making private investments in early-stage companies founded by people in my network. After casually investing for a couple of years, I was invited to be a scout for a VC firm. It was a game-changing opportunity to expand my network, be an apprentice in the venture business and have access to more capital, since angel investing is an expensive hobby!
Around the same time, I had five female friends working at Twitter who were also eager to do more angel investing. And every time we saw an announcement about a company that raised capital, we noticed the investor list was predominantly the same cast of characters. We thought, "Where are the women? Where are the people of color? Where are the operators?"
We knew that all of these communities could add significant value to early-stage companies. We started to measure that difference, which we called the Gap Table, and banded together calling ourselves #ANGELS. Having both a trusted support group to send deal flow to and ask hard questions with, as well as more capital from being a scout, accelerated my learning and experience as an investor.
Eventually I wanted to make VC my day job. I was nervous about this transition and doing it solo, but was encouraged by a number of people I respect. I called the firm “Moxxie” as I needed courage to do this and added the double X for the female chromosome.
Do the skills you developed as an operator help you in running your own firm as a general partner? How so?
Katie: They help in several ways. One is that since you do a lot of hiring — and, unfortunately, on occasion, firing — as an operator, so you develop a good nose for talent. Another is that when it comes to building products, you know what great looks like. You know how to build, how to iterate, how to measure, what to measure, how to scale and how to shut down things that aren’t working. That’s important.
The third thing is that, having built and sold products and services to other companies or built partnerships, operators have a very unique and useful network. Oftentimes, our early-stage portfolio companies will ask if we know anyone at a given tech company — say, Spotify, TripActions or Pinterest — because they want to sell that company their solution. I love this challenge! Having worked in tech for the past twenty years, I love digging through my network and finding the right contact, at the right time for our founders.
What differentiates Moxxie Ventures from other funds?
Katie: We're different from many traditional VC funds because we come from operating backgrounds. I have built products and managed various functions including business development, marketing and comms. My business partner, Alex Roetter, is a talented software engineer and prior to Moxxie, led engineering at Twitter, was Pesident of Kitty Hawk and started his career as a Google engineer. There are few VCs who are also engineers and that makes him a great asset for us — especially because we only invest in technical founders. Technical founders often seek out a kind of mentorship that doesn't really exist in traditional VC.
This may sound silly, but I’ll say it anyhow because it’s so important to me: we deeply care. We love to mentor, we love to roll up our sleeves and help solve problems. There should be more empathy in venture, and I hope that becomes something Moxxie is known for. The goal of venture isn’t just returning capital, but helping to influence the outcomes you want to see in the world. For us, it's about influencing the most important outcomes that make the world better: climate protection, more accessible healthcare and improved economic mobility. While we're generalist investors, these three categories excite us most.
How has the current economic landscape affected your approach to investing?
Katie: There is a heightened sense of caution and more diligence, and that's awesome. We’re taking the time to go through a due diligence process on our companies and do the hard work because these are all long-term relationships. I don't think the economic situation has heightened our bar, because our bar has always been very high, but it's given us time to really focus on diligence and getting to know our founders better.
What are your future plans with Moxxie Ventures?
Katie: At Moxxie, we’ve learned to stick to our knitting. We love our small team size and our focus on backing software solutions to hard problems. Going forward, we look forward to building our own software solutions to help us, and our founders, scale.
First Republic is proud to support innovators like Moxxie Ventures. Connect with us today to learn more about our offerings for venture capital firms.
Photo provided by Katie Jacobs Stanton
The views of the interviewee of this article do not necessarily represent the views of First Republic Bank. This information is governed by our Terms and Conditions of Use.