By Laura Layden Naples Daily News, Fla.
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) 28 year old Elizabeth Galbut is a co-owner and managing partner of SoGal Ventures. SoGal invests in companies with diverse founding teams, and all of the companies it has put money into have at least one female co-founder.
Naples Daily News, Fla.
You might say three times is a charm for Elizabeth Galbut.
The Naples native and Community School grad made the 2018 Forbes 30 Under 30 list after judges considered her for the prestigious recognition three times.
The venture capitalist was a finalist for two years in a row, so it didn't surprise her to get nominated a third time. When she landed on this year's list, though, she said "it felt very humbling."
She describes the competition for the list as "more competitive than getting into Harvard."
"This is really great," she said. "I'm glad I got it, but I'm much happier with the 50 companies I've invested in."
Galbut, 28, is a co-owner and managing partner of SoGal Ventures based in New York. The firm invests in startups in the U.S. and Asia, with a focus on consumer, health care and enterprise technologies that change the way people live, work and stay healthy.
The millennial was also recently honored as one of New York City's 33 Under 33 Top Innovators.
"My job is hard," she said. "But the entrepreneurs have the really hard job. They are putting in the blood, sweat and tears 24 hours a day, seven days a week."
SoGal invests in companies with diverse founding teams, and all of the companies it has put money into have at least one female co-founder.
Galbut and her Asian business partner, Pocket Sun, search out companies with inclusive cultures and diverse workforces. They believe diversity leads to better business performance and a higher return on investment.
The partners also look for "borderless businesses" that want to build a global footprint from day one.
Some of the companies SoGal has invested in are Everlywell, Trustify, Function of Beauty and HelloAva.
In November, Everlywell, which sells kits to make at-home medical testing simple and affordable, landed a million-dollar deal with Lori Greiner on "Shark Tank." Greiner gave the company a $1 million line of credit with an 8 percent interest rate, taking a 5 percent equity stake in the start-up -- "the largest deal a solo female founder has ever received" on the TV show, Galbut said.
Galbut and her partner, who met at a venture capital program at Stanford University, are choosy about whom they invest in. They've looked at over 6,000 companies in the past two years, getting leads through cold calls and emails, referrals, research, presentations and mutual connections. They host events around the world. SoGal Ventures' first fund is targeting $15 million in investment capital. The company has dozens of investors, from individuals to institutions.
The fund is open to accredited investors, as defined under the rules and regulations of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. To invest, individuals must have a net worth of more than $1 million or earn more than $200,000 a year.
Initial investments in companies range from $100,000 to $350,000, but follow-up funding is available up to a maximum of $1.5 million to those who are found worthy.
The companies SoGal has put money into are "all doing great right now" and have raised more than $150 million in additional capital from other sources, Galbut said.
"They've employed hundreds of individuals," she said. "These are really fast-growing companies."
One of those companies started with a team of four a year ago and now has 70 employees, Galbut said.
Galbut is a graduate of the Johns Hopkins University and Maryland Institute College of Art's MBA/MA Design Leadership dual-degree program.
Galbut's interest in the world of venture capital sparked during graduate school at Johns Hopkins, where she ran an entrepreneurship club. That's when she met a fellow student, David West, who needed investors for his startup that would offer a better way of analyzing cancer biopsies.
"It was my goal," she said. "I needed to get him the money. I didn't know how to do it at first."
West's technology hit home: Galbut's father was not properly treated for three years until the lump in his leg was finally diagnosed as melanoma.
At Johns Hopkins, Galbut started a student-led fund A-Level Capital in 2015 at 25 years old -- and the university's alumni were some of its first investors. The fund invested $10,000 in West's health care startup Proscia, and he later attracted other investors, raising another $2.1 million, she said.
Investing in health care technology continues to be a big focus for Galbut, who comes from a medically minded family. Her dad was a doctor and so was her mother, until her career was cut short by multiple sclerosis, a debilitating autoimmune disease that caused her to temporarily lose sight in both eyes.
Growing up, Galbut spent time in her dad's medical offices watching him work, greeting patients, and helping out with billing and administrative work. She attended many dinners with her parents and their friends where health and health care were the topics of discussion and debate.
"Health care is really broken," she said.
Besides her business, Galbut is involved in innovation through her roles as a part-time professor at the School of Visual Arts' MFA Products of Design graduate program and as a member of the Technology Development Corp.'s investment committee. She's also a global speaker on the topics of health care innovation, venture capital, cross-border business and venture design.
Galbut, an only child born in Naples, attended Sea Gate Elementary and Pine Ridge Middle before transferring to Community School in the middle of seventh grade, which she said provided her a safe, supportive space when her mom became ill -- and allowed her to become a part of sports teams and take on leadership roles with clubs.
"I think it was really, really good for me," she said. "Some of that took my mind off my mom being really, really sick."
Galbut said her opportunities and experiences at Community School -- from her time on the volleyball court to her leadership with her classes' community service efforts -- were the foundation for her success.
"I am lucky to still consider many of my CSN classmates my closest lifetime friends and business peers," she said. Three of her classmates served as bridesmaids at her wedding in September.
Christopher J. Utz, an upper school science teacher at Community School, remembers Galbut as an ambitious student, with a "real gentle side."
"She was very close to her family and shared their values of hard work, perseverance and love," he said.
Utz recalls watching Galbut in the Collier County Mock Trial competition, when "she just oozed confidence and sensibility."
"You could tell she would be a confident and secure adult as time passed," he said. "She was so involved in CSN activities, including sports, student government and cheerleading."
He wrote a letter of recommendation for Galbut when she applied to attend Georgetown University, where she got her undergraduate degree. The letter stressed how versatile she was in so many ways.
"I recently saw her at a classmate's wedding, and she exhibited the same exuberance and confidence she had as a teenager," Utz said. "I am very proud to say I had a little something to do with her success, but she earned it through hard work and very valuable people skills."