Recently, we had the chance to catch up with a dear friend, Connie Capone. Connie is the president of GreenOhm (GVW Group) – the leading SaaS and data provider of local rebates, incentives, ongoing savings and lead generation to the retail, manufacturer, distributor and dealer channels for energy-efficient products and measures, such as appliances, insulation, HVAC, doors, windows, low flow water products, building materials, and alternative energy.
She joined GVW after being the CEO of ePropertyData, a software data company serving the commercial real estate market. ePD was merged after a turnaround of the business. She also served as the EIR (entrepreneur in residence) at Argonne National Laboratory, representing various venture capital firms’ interests in Lab technology.
Before this, she spent 11 years as a Partner with JK&B Capital, a leading Chicago based venture capital firm. Before joining JK&B, she was a Senior Manager at Booz Allen & Hamilton and started her career at Price Waterhouse. After earning a CPA, she transitioned into the systems consulting group, where she programmed and installed SAP financial software. Connie earned an MBA from Harvard Business School and graduated from Pennsylvania State University with distinction and high honors.
We had a chance to talk about women in business and angel investing.
Do We Need More Female Angels?
You’ve been a consultant, a venture capitalist, an entrepreneur – what drives you?
Intellectual curiosity, the desire to be challenged and to grow.
What challenges did you face as a woman in business?
I was once asked to step outside and get coffee and drinks in a meeting which I set up! I can’t stress enough the importance of being authentic, speaking your mind, and not being afraid to make mistakes.
Why aren’t there more female angels?
Being comfortable with risk is not something women naturally gravitate towards. Also, angels are typically people who have been entrepreneurs or early-stage investors in the past, which is also an area devoid of women.
Venture capitalists have poor track records when it comes to funding female CEOs. Do we need special funds for women-owned startups?
No. I believe good ideas get funded regardless of a male or female CEO. I think the bigger question is why women’s ideas may not be funded. I think this has to do with how ideas are created – many times by teams of people who stay together until they get it right. Women tend to be more individual contributors (there are lots of reasons for this), rather than team players, but I think this is changing.
What advice would you offer a woman interested in becoming an Angel?
Invest in areas you know and understand, regardless of how popular a particular area happens to be at the time. Early-stage investments, by their nature, of course, are incredibly risky. Try to find the critical question or two that will assess the level of risk in a deal and then due diligence that as much as possible. Get comfortable with that level of risk/reward and your financial appetite before taking the plunge. And remember that sometimes sound logic and reason may still not produce a successful outcome.
Did you have a mentor?
My Mother – she challenged me when I was younger and still to this day. She encouraged me even when she knew I could (would?) fail. She’s incredibly hard-working, very authentic, speaks her mind, and has a “get on with it” sort of mentality.
What is your investment philosophy?
Two critical areas of focus: The team/CEO has to have domain expertise, and the CEO is someone I would want to work for myself. Market timing is crucial. So many great companies are (usually) to early, which results in excess capital required and less financial upside for investors.
When investing, what do you look for in an entrepreneur?
Besides what I mentioned already about domain expertise and being a great leader, it’s also essential that this person has the personality to handle the ups and downs of growing a young company.
What do you do for fun?
When I have enough time, I love to travel. I just took a wonderful trip to Argentina. It was the perfect combination of history, excellent food, and wine, and Iguazu Falls is mother nature at her finest!
Our interview with Connie Capone – consultant, a venture capitalist, an entrepreneur – is part of an ongoing series by Angelsbootcamp focusing on Angel investment and the Startup ecosystem. Angelsbootcamp is a Startupbootcamp initiative to train Angels across Europe and beyond.