Laura Bordewieck Rippy's Entrepreneurial Journey
Green D Ventures' Managing Partner shares her journey into venture
Laura Bordewieck Rippy, Managing Partner of Green D Ventures (Alumni Ventures fund for the Dartmouth community) shares her venture journey, including her first job, lessons learned, exciting investments, and more.
Laura Bordewieck RippyManaging Partner, Green D Ventures
Laura is the Managing Partner of Green D Ventures and brings operational perspective as a CEO, Chairman, and executive in technology startups. She also served as CEO at Handango, creating the first marketplace of mobile apps. At Microsoft, she co-founded two businesses as an intra-preneur in an elite swat team spun out of Bill Gates’ office. She holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and AB in Government from Dartmouth (‘89).
1. What was your first job in venture and how did you get it?
Cracking into venture capital is hard. While VC is a critical catalyst for the future of innovation, there are a tiny number of investment roles.
My break came when my friend Claire recruited me as General Partner of FA Technology Ventures. Readying for a fundraise, the VC team wanted to showcase the next generation of leadership. By adding two younger female GPs with startup operating experience (she as a serial CFO, me as a CEO/Board member), we stood out. At that point, less than 2% of VC investors were female.
2. Share with us a story about how someone, especially a fellow alum, helped you along the way.
When I first moved back to Massachusetts from Texas, I was passed from one senior female startup leader to another. It was a networking game of telephone. I started with a female CEO, who passed me to a VC, who passed me to another CEO.
While there were fewer women in leadership positions, they all took care of each other, and by inference, me. I’m very grateful.
3. Share one of the top lessons you’ve learned over the years in working with founders.
Always be selling… in a pithy way. The best founders realize that they have a slim chance to be memorable, which is the first step toward future sales, partnerships, investments, and hires.
They need to distill their company in a way that can be remembered.
There is nuance to this. It doesn’t mean obnoxiously pitching the company to everyone they meet. Rather, the best founders listen to their audience and craft a description of their company and offering that allows the people they meet to share their message further. Short, memorable, actionable.
4. Give an example of one recent investment that you’re particularly excited about.
Lightship RV is creating an electric recreational vehicle. Think Tesla for the RV market. We were surprised as we dug in fully that one in 10 Americans participate in RVing, and 90% of RVs are the towable type. That’s a $26B annual market — and this ex-Tesla, ex-Rivian, ex-Proterra team is poised to shake it up.
The Lightship RV is beautiful, with a modern interior and solar cells in the glass roof. The CEO is not only a Dartmouth alum, but he worked on the Formula One race cars at Thayer before he designed batteries at Tesla. We are grateful for a Dartmouth VC who introduced us to the team.
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