Super successful model-turned-serial entrepreneur-turned financier, Lauren Maillian Bias, 28, co-founded Gen Y Capital Partners after recognizing that capital intensive businesses were no longer on trend. Though she was fortunate to have successfully exited SugarLeaf Vineyards, which she founded at age 19, she understood that creating and growing wealth now took on a different form than the model she used initially, which involved large investments upfront before her business even started to scale.
Her other business, Luxury Market Branding, focused specifically on creating media plans, strategic partnerships and doing marketing and branding for wine and spirits companies. As that evolved, she eventually began advising hair care, skin care, and technology companies about branding. After a project helping to start an iPad Magazine for women, Maillian Bias fell head over heels with the tech world.
“I became really passionate about technology and the future of technology and the kind of numerous ways you can innovate when you’re leveraging and utilizing technology as a central point,” says the mother of two. “I was personally interested in understanding more about investing in tech and putting dollars behind promising entrepreneurs.”
Now, Gen Y Capital Partners, an early stage venture firm, has a $30 million fund, and, since they launched in 2011, they’ve invested in seven startups, of which one has already been acquired.
Though Gen Y Capital is not a tech startup, Black Enterprise honors Maillian Bias, one of our #NinjaInnovators, as Tech Startup of the Week for carving out opportunities for tech companies and redefining the stereotype of what a venture capitalist looks like. Here, the innovator gives advice to aspiring investors on the practical things they can do before putting their money into a new venture:
Call another VC. If you are a successful entrepreneur, and you have significant capital to invest in startups as an angel or otherwise, you have to think about the best use of your time. It’s time consuming to do the proper due diligence and source opportunities that have the highest potential of yielding you venture backable returns, which are different than what people consider to be good returns in other industries.
Do your research. Not only research where you have the most interest, but where you think the most financial opportunities lie. Ask yourself, do you want to do emerging markets, ecommerce, mobile applications? You have to spend a good amount of time researching the trends and what is going on. What are the big firms doing? Where are the really well-known firms with great returns and track records investing? Find out when they are investing, and why they are investing.
Explore venture funds. With our fund, most of our investors are invested in the fund because they believe in our approach to investing. Figure out where their sweet spots [lie], where they have the most interest, and also figure out where most opportunities lie and how much risk you’re willing to take. It is an easy and effective way to be involved in venture and the startup community by syndicating someone else’s approach to investing.