A Year in Review: Recap of the 2021 Golden Seeds Summit

By Jo Ann Corkran, Loretta McCarthy and Peggy Wallace, Co-CEOs and Managing Partners of Golden Seeds

July 7, 2021

Loretta McCarthy, Jo Ann Corkran and Peggy Wallace, Co-CEOs and Managing Partners of Golden Seeds

Golden Seeds is now in its 17th year of funding women-led companies, and the journey has been exhilarating, challenging, and gratifying. Our mission remains the same: We continue to focus on women-led companies, funding female entrepreneurs who historically receive a tiny percentage of Venture Capital, as evidenced by our recent bylined article in Fortune.

Though the pandemic drastically altered many aspects of life, we feel very fortunate that we were able to host the 13th annual Golden Seeds Summit earlier this year, although we gathered remotely rather than in person. The three-day event included webinars, panel discussions, speakers, and presentations by 38 of our companies.

The virtual format didn’t dampen participation—attendance was higher than ever. We had 225 participants, including members, staff, entrepreneurs and sponsors. We were delighted to attract wonderful, notable speakers such as Kara Swisher, journalist and host of the podcasts “Sway” and “Pivot,” along with Catherine Wood, CEO & CIO of ARK Investment Management, and Erica Dhawan, the author of Digital Body Language.

The annual Summit is a great tradition at Golden Seeds, enabling us to establish trust and foster connections among our members and entrepreneurs. By harnessing the energy and power of our mission-driven community, we can fulfill the promise of investing together. This year, we created and shared the below retrospective video about 2020.

A year in review

2020 was a challenging year, for all of us personally and for Golden Seeds. Initially, we were worried. Would 2020 be another year like 2008? Would all of our companies survive? Would our members continue to invest?

Economic trials haven’t been the only challenge. The nation continues to wrestle with racial inequality. We recognize that systemic bias extends well beyond gender, and we are determined to create an environment in which women of color have the opportunity to be considered, mentored, and funded. In this process, we are engaging with numerous ecosystems to identify minority entrepreneurs, and we are being rewarded with access to great ideas and companies.

Through it all we managed to prevail and even prosper in these difficult circumstances. Members mobilized beyond our wildest expectations, continuing to support and invest in our companies. In 2020, we invested $12 million in 34 companies, including 19 new companies—and in most cases we never met the entrepreneurs in person, breaking a pre-COVID cardinal rule of angel investing. This brought our total amount of investments in women-led companies since our founding to nearly $140 million.

Adapting to the new environment, we moved events online. To fill our members’ appetite for continuous learning, we developed the Golden Seeds Trend Talk Series on key topics of high relevance. This has become a signature program attracting thought leaders across many fields.

We welcomed many new members in the past year. Now we have more than 300 members across 24 states and eight chapters based in Arizona, Atlanta, Boston, Dallas, Houston, New Jersey, New York, and Silicon Valley.

How we did it: Strategies during the pandemic

The economic turmoil of 2007 and 2008 taught us that startups don’t have the luxury of time during a crisis. We knew that immediate mobilization and rapid response were critical. Thus, we encouraged our companies to assess effects on their business and adapt as necessary, restructuring the cost side of their business to extend the runway.

Though we couldn’t meet in person, that didn’t stop us from networking. We used Zoom and other video services to connect, actually strengthening our outreach. We helped companies absorb the overload of information about COVID and access government relief programs. We set up a post-investment committee offering more frequent touchpoints, systematically sharing insights, connections, and cautions.

The results have been impressive. To date, we have not lost any companies due to the pandemic. COVID did take its toll, though, with half our companies growing more slowly than expected or missing milestones. However, some businesses actually thrived.

Leadership unquestionably played a part in our success over the past year. Golden Seeds has a strong team of leaders – of chapters and key initiatives – who meet frequently to manage our nationwide organization. Though we look forward to resuming in-person meetings, we will continue to use video calls as an effective way to develop connections. 

Milestones and major events

We’ve also seen active M&A activity in the past year. Liquidity events included Amplyx, BoardBookit, Brandwatch, Haxiot, and Roomored. Brandwatch, which was sold to Cision, was the largest exit by dollars in Golden Seeds history.

Wrapping up

Remarkably, 2020 was one of the best years ever for Golden Seeds. We worked together in new ways and got things done. We are determined to take full advantage of the good things that came out of an otherwise stressful, tragic year and build on the strategies we implemented and the improvements we achieved.

Despite the unprecedented disruption, the determination and resilience of our members and companies prevailed. Thank you all!

Read more of our Golden Seeds blogs for relevant, instructive, and inspiring insights.