Christina Sass | Diversity, connection & opening doors for everyone to lead.

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This article contains an excerpt from a conversation that we on April 30th, 2020 with Christina Sass, co-founder of Andela.

About Andela:

Culminating in a 100M Series D in 2019, this latest round of funding brought the total venture funding raised by Andela to $180 million. This latest round is led by Generation Investment Management — an investment firm co-founded by former US vice president Al Gore, with participation from existing investors including Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, GV (Google Ventures), Spark Capital, and CRE Venture Capital.

“Andela is built upon the fact that diverse companies outcompete”

1. Diversity and inclusion are good for business.

According to Christina, “[Andela was] pretty dogged about having the right mix of people and opinions (investing)… And we were able to achieve that, we had 30% women investors in our early rounds… Diversity is good for business, we know the proof is clear both metrically and monetarily “

Christina touched on her commitment to 30% of women on the cap table, and Andela supported a number of smaller investments to support including women. The investments made by women, mobilized these women to further support the company to succeed through networking and advising.

The lesson: There are substantial evidence and research that women play a significant role in the economic success of businesses as investors; the inclusion of women in investment and leadership of Andela has played a big role in its incredible success.

2. Investors lead to institutional funding.

Vivian Wu, an impact investor, and board member led Christina and Andela to the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. ‘She was very excited about Andela and felt that it matched the Chan Zuckerberg long-term strategy around independent learning and it was just extremely aligned”. This led to the investment Series B round (24M) and the first for-profit investment the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative had made.

The lesson: As we mentioned in our latest white paper, angel investors open doors to institutional investors, which are critical to the success of the venture.

3. There is a symbiotic relationship between investing + alignment.

‘‘Our investors had done their research, we had done our research on them as well, there was a real conversation to be had”. In finding the right fit, Christina spoke a lot about ensuring that investors with real interest, beyond economic, were those of immediate and significant value to Andela.

The lesson: doing your ‘homework’ and understanding how and why a venture is important to you, and your perspective on its role in a wider vision of the world helps distinguish you as a stronger investor for the venture.

4. Networking is critical for entrepreneurs and investors.

‘Investors know each other, even if a business is not right for them they may know another investor who is aligned, always leave a meeting with at least three other investor names’.

The lesson: building your network with both ventures and angels will help build deal flow from either side of the pipeline.

5. Invest where you feel connected. Walk the walk.

“We don’t have a place or a space to talk about [investing]… Investment tools from the branding to the wording, to everything about banking, is dominated by males. We have to shift product and marketing to fit what is important to women…We have to invest in what we believe in and put our money where our mouth is. If you believe in something, you have to be walking the walk”.

The lesson: We all have a responsibility and a role to play in changing the face of investing. That means getting involved however you can. With Future Capital you can continue to get access to our series, The Brief, and learn more about upcoming programming to take you from aspiring to active.

We are developing a new, more diverse cohort of startup investors at the angel, syndicate and LP levels.