Houston venture capitalist says it's time for more women in VC
HOUSTON INNOVATORS PODCAST EPISODE 73
In all the turmoil of 2020, Samantha Lewis had at least one silver lining. The former director of Goose Capital transitioned into her new position as principal at Mercury Fund.
However fortunate she feels to have her new position, she shares on the Houston Innovators Podcast this week that there's not nearly enough of women like her in venture capital.
"The bottom line is there has to be more women with check-writing abilities," Lewis says on the show. "And when there is more women with check-writing abilities, more women will get funded."
Joining the podcast at the start of Women's History Month, Lewis says that the pandemic disproportionately affected women's careers across the board — but when it comes to VC, the solution is growing the female representation at firms.
"It is up to the people in VC hiring or the institutional investors who are giving money to funds to make sure there's a woman on the investment team," she says — adding that just one isn't enough.
In her role at Mercury, Lewis is helping build up the fund's processes — something she specialized in at Goose. She's also focused on building up the portfolio around a specific theme.
"One of the things specifically that Mercury brought me over to focus on from an investment perspective is something we're calling our 'power theme,'" Lewis says. "Think about it as giving people the power to make decisions that are authentic to their values around sustainability and impact."
There have been significant changes in consumer values driven by millennials, and businesses are prioritizing sustainability and transparency in order to keep up. Lewis discusses how Houston-based Topl, which is one of Mercury's portfolio companies, has a major role to play in this space.
Another key area of interest for Lewis is fintech.
"The other piece of the theme is thinking about the democratization of financial services," Lewis says. "Legacy financial institutions have ignored large groups of our population here in America and broader for a very long time. Technology is actually breaking down a lot of those barriers, so there are all these groups that have traditionally been ignored that now technology can reach to help them build wealth."
Lewis discusses more about how Mercury Fund is at an inflection point and how the Houston innovation ecosystem is developing with intention on the episode. Listen to the full interview below — or wherever you stream your podcasts — and subscribe for weekly episodes.