Kelly has consistently given me spot-on advice that helped me move my business forward while at the same time thinking ‘of course, it makes so much sense!’. No abstract, high-level fluffy stuff here, she’ll tell you the good, bad, and ugly about the path you’re on and won’t let you hide from accountability. Her tough questions will help you uncover pragmatic solutions to propel your idea forward while satisfying that entrepreneurial need for the ‘good gut feeling’ and makes you feel like all of it was your idea. Kelly isn’t simply a trusted advisor, she’s a critical component to any go-to-market toolkit that relies on business intelligence and real world experience, all while feeling like plain common sense.
Our company is at the crossroads of Hollywood, Madison Avenue and Silicon Valley. Kelly wisely suggested that I address the misconception upfront in my pitch that people with money in LA would ‘get us’ and fund us. We appeal to people in the tech space who understand our platform and the value in crowdsourcing content from filmmakers and the audience vetting of that content for use by our brand clients across all of their platforms. Kelly also suggested we lean in on the sexy Hollywood factor of the business, talk about competitors, the total addressable market and an exit strategy.
Having Kelly as a mentor and advocate has been incredibly valuable to the growth of my company FindSpark. She was one of the first people I went to when I started to fundraise, and I’m so glad I did. Her business acumen, guidance, and questions were extremely helpful as I built my pitch and as I continue to build the plan and strategy for growing my business. She’s approachable, hands-on, down-to-earth, and you can tell she’s genuinely passionate about helping female CEOs succeed in growing their businesses.
I often refer to myself as an ‘accidental entrepreneur’ because I never had any ambitions to even work for a start-up, let alone found one. However, through my experience as a public school teacher, I stumbled onto a problem that I became obsessed with, and, after doing a lot of research, a start-up seemed to be the most expeditious way to pursue a solution. So, in January 2013, I quit my job with nothing but an idea and a mission and founded Allovue.In the earliest days, back when Allovue was still entirely a concept, a lot of investors dismissed me as ‘just a teacher’ and barely gave me a second thought or the time of day. Multiple other people literally advised me to just give up. In these critical early days, Kelly was one of the few people who took me seriously. She saw my classroom experience as an advantage, recognizing that it gave me knowledge of the inner-workings of a notoriously difficult industry, as well as the passion that comes with solving an intensely personal problem.Back before I barely knew what a Term Sheet was, Kelly sat down with me, talked through the opportunity, and patiently worked with me on how to construct a compelling pitch to investors. She helped me frame the problem and solution through an investor’s lens and supported me in the process of refining that narrative over time. Kelly’s words of wisdom would have been helpful enough at this stage, but she took it a step further and introduced me to her network of investors, as well as personally investing in the company. While Kelly has been one of our biggest cheerleaders from the start, she’s also willing to provide constructive criticism, which makes her advice and mentorship all the more useful. She doesn’t talk in euphemisms; her feedback is specific, practical, and actionable. She’s also willing to admit when something is not her area of expertise and will direct you to more relevant advisors in her network. Today, Allovue has raised 3 rounds of capital for a total of $6.9M in investment, but it wasn’t long ago that I was struggling to raise my first $100K. Kelly was there from the very beginning and has been a steadfast advisor and investor ever since.
I had the pleasure of meeting Kelly while pitching to the Pipeline Angels in 2014. At the time, Hip Chick Farms was a very small start up. We had distribution into about 50 stores with 3 products. At the time, Hip Chick Farms was really more an idea than a viable company. Kelly and I were able to talk at the pitch, and she seemed to really get the idea of what we were trying to do—innovate through simplicity and offer transparency to busy families via the world’s best chicken nugget.Kelly led the Pipeline Angels investment into Hip Chick Farms and joined our Board of Directors. Over the next two years, she worked with me, as a new CEO, to grow and develop our brand in ways that were risky and yet thoughtful. She brought important opportunities to our table with marketing connections. She offered me great advice on maneuvering the complicated waters of bringing on additional investors. Kelly has been a wonderful asset to growing Hip Chick Farms and I have grateful to count her as an advisor and friend. Today, Hip Chick Farms produces 15 products distributed into 5,000 stores nationwide, including Walmart, Kroger and Whole Foods. We now have a staff of 15 and recently opened the World’s First Chicken Nugget Tasting Room!