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Tanya Rolfe: Female Capital Gap, Syndicate vs. Fund vs. Education & Fortune Favors The Brave

· Women,VC and Angels,Founder,Start-up,Podcast Episodes

I don't think the fault or the issue lies solely with male VCs. This is not about finger pointing. This is about acknowledging the facts and the facts tell us that women are opening around 40% of all businesses. In Southeast Asia, there are more than three quarters of venture funds have no females in decision making roles. So, they're all male decision-making teams. So, if we have a decision making capital allocator teams of largely men, it is no surprise that they are opting for the founders that look and sound like the founders that they've invested in, in the past, when we had fewer female founders, for example, because we have more women founders than ever before, right now.- Tanya Rolfe

Tanya’s 15-year legal career at some of the world’s largest law firms has honed her ability to influence and collaborate with people from diverse disciplines and backgrounds, Tanya spent 7 years in Real Estate legal teams before moving into legal team management. Tanya spent 8 years in Corporate M&A at both Simmons & Simmons and Norton Rose Fulbright in London.

Tanya founded the Ladies Investment Club in Singapore and grew a team of 40 female investors which enabled female investors to build their investment portfolio and credentials, while providing hard to access funding to female founders. Tanya went on to launch a venture capital fund for women entrepreneurs and during her time at the fund, discovered the need for both more women investors and women entrepreneurs to be supported.

Tanya believes in tapping into the largely untapped capital held by women through education and empowerment to both increase wealth held by women and to drive more capital towards diverse founders. Sophia was built to facilitate both of these things through it’s platform. Outside of Sophia, Tanya is an avid cyclist and yoga enthusiast. Tanya also advises two start ups and mentors young founders.

Jeremy Au: (00:30)
Hi Tanya. Excited to have you on the show. You have such a passionate mission to help invest in female founders across Asia and I just want to hear your story. For those that don't know you yet, could you share a little bit about yourself?

Tanya Rolfe: (00:42)
Sure. Thank you for having me, Jeremy. Yes, I'm Tanya Rolfe, and I'm one of the three co-founders of Sophia, which is a financial education platform based here in Singapore. We provide financial education to women with a mission to decrease the gender wealth and gender investing gap.

Jeremy Au: (01:04)
What's interesting is that you have to take us all the way to the beginning. What got you interested in this issue in the first place?

Tanya Rolfe: (01:12)
That's a very good question. It probably started in my law firm days in London. I used to work within large international corporate departments doing M&A, corporate work and it was there that I started to…I was tasked actually with running a programme, a project, to understand where all the female lawyers were going. Because in law firms, much like in many corporate environments, we were haemorrhaging female talent, usually around the sort of 30 to 35 age bracket.
It was really to try to understand why and what we could do to address this. What I realised was that the why was abundantly obvious why we were losing women, particularly in transactional legal departments where you're expected to work sometimes 24 hours straight. Not particularly conducive for women with children. So, the why was pretty clear.
The what can we do to address it was also fairly clear, but there was very little appetite from any of the law firms that I worked in to actually really do anything, to change anything. So, yes, we can run projects and we can understand the problem better, but what are we actually doing about it? And I came away from working in law firms when I moved from London to Singapore, actually, around five years ago now, and I decided; and I had my second child at the time, so I had a newborn baby girl with me arriving into Singapore. I said, okay, I'm going to have my maternity leave in Singapore and I'm not going to return to the corporate world. But I still had this fire in my belly.
I would say I had a better understanding of the inequalities that were existing in the corporate world for women. When I came to Singapore, I decided that I wanted to do something different. I was in a new country, a new continent, a new mum. I felt like it was a great time to do something different.
I started to make some personal investments and when I scratched the surface of this Start-Up sort of world, I looked around and I said, Well, where are all the women, the women investors and the women founders? That was the start of my obsession.

Jeremy Au: (03:39)
How did you first start tackling your obsession?

Tanya Rolfe: (03:44)
The first thing I thought I needed to do was to find women who also had the same passion as I did because strength in numbers. So, I set out to find women much like myself, who also wanted to make a difference and fund women, and were women that were acutely aware of the gender biases that exist in the world and had that little bit of fire in their bellies.
That's where I started, and funnily enough, I look back on this story now and laugh and chuckle to myself. But I was brand new into Singapore and I didn't know anyone. I literally had no friends here. I didn't know anyone when I arrived. The only network that I kind of had but didn't really have but I was signed up into this WhatsApp group of Sentosa mums and I was in this group and I just said, Hey ladies, is anyone interested in investing and what do you know?
There was a huge number of women that, oh, I’m ex this bank, ex this bank. I used to be an accountant, I da da da. And I love this and kind of grew from there.

Jeremy Au: (05:01)
What's interesting is that there's some dynamics where you're tackling Southeast Asia as a funding gap overall versus startups. And then you're also talking about the female capital gap that you just mentioned as well. Could you share more about how those two trends/themes came together for you?

Tanya Rolfe: (05:19)
The gender investing gap for me was really what hooked me in because as I said, when I started to make these investments and I realised there were very few female investors in the room, then, you know, I used to attend pitching events held by big sort of Angel Networks and Google and demo days. And so, I used to go to those and always noted that I was in a significant minority, being a woman in the room.
And then when I'm watching these pitches, notice a significant minority of women pitching. But then when I looked at the data, women are opening a significant number of businesses. So where are they? When I realised that there were very few female investors, I made the correlation between a lack of diversity of investors to a lack of diversity of founders receiving funding.
And I wholeheartedly believe that that is largely one of the reasons we have women receiving so little funding. So, the correlation between the lack of capital for their businesses and the lack of wealth that you mentioned is that when I looked at why women were not receiving funding for their businesses, I concluded it was a lack of female investors as decision makers.
Then when I thought long and hard about, well, how do we get more females making investment decisions? I started to look at women as investors and what was preventing them and noted that the data told me that women were just not investing at the same rate as men, not investing as frequently and not investing as much money.
And why was that? When I looked at the data there and I saw we’re over 51% of the population, so we're more than half of the world. We have around a third of the world's wealth, which is around $90 trillion. What is preventing women from investing? And that's how I sort of drew the two together and how Sophia came about is we have this lack of female investors to support women entrepreneurs.
And I say, well, okay, what do we need to do to get women to invest? Okay, I'm going to start talking to my friends, my wider network and larger circles and realising it's a lack of knowledge and also having less money to start with. You know, there's a gender pay gap as well. So women are paid less than men.
So, if we have less disposable income, it makes absolute sense that we're investing less than men are. But what can we do with that 93 trillion that we do have, which is no insignificant amount of money? We can mobilise that towards women entrepreneurs. And that's how I made the correlation. And Sophia comes from a place of addressing both of those points.

Jeremy Au: (08:15)
Why is it bad? Because a common counter argument could be that male investors are able and incentivised to look for risk versus reward. And they should be incentivised to look for mispriced assets or teams that are underpriced by other people. So male investors should be searching for teams that are strong but not seen and that should equalise over time.
That's kind of like the efficient markets hypothesis. So why is it that it's not happening?

Tanya Rolfe: (08:49)
Okay. Yeah, that's a great question. I don't think the fault or the issue lies solely with male VCs. This is not about finger pointing. This is about acknowledging the facts and the facts tell us that women are opening around 40% of all businesses. In Southeast Asia, there are more than three quarters of venture funds have no females in decision making roles.
So, they're all male decision-making teams. So, if we have a decision making, capital allocator teams of largely men, it is no surprise that they are opting for the founders that look and sound like the founders that they've invested in, in the past, when we had fewer female founders, for example, because we have more women founders than ever before, right now.

We should be investing at a higher rate, but we're not and I think the reason is that, as male VCs, I think that it's very safe and it's less risky to invest into founders that look and sound a bit like yourself. Perhaps you can relate to them. You see a little bit of yourself in them and they look and sound like previous founders that you invested into that perhaps you've had great exits from, or there's other companies like them elsewhere in other parts of the world.
So, I think that it's a little bit of a risk aversion on the VC part, which is quite ironic. I think that there's also the fact that women entrepreneurs are generally, I think, more inclined to bootstrap their companies and not be pushing themselves forward for VC funding at the same pace and rate that male founders are. And if you think about it, if you're a female founder and you're looking at the data that tells you 2 to 3% of VC funding globally goes to female founder teams, that's pretty shocking numbers. Your chances are pretty slim. And then if I start to look at Southeast Asia VCs and I see more than three quarters of them have no women in their decision-making teams. Am I really going to go knocking on their doors for funding? Am I going to put myself through that as a female founder? Probably not. What am I going to do instead?
I'm probably going to bootstrap. I'm probably going to get some angel investment and try and…which takes businesses off in a very different trajectory than what they could otherwise do with the early-stage funding. So, I think it's two-fold, and I think that everything sort of comes back to a lack of diversity in the investment teams, just not being necessarily appealing enough to the founders.
And then from the decision-making perspective, just having one lens. And I think that we've got the data that tells us that having diversity in decision making teams leads to much better decisions and more profitable investment decisions.

Jeremy Au: (11:46)
Thanks for sharing. One interesting thing was you contrasted, I think the U.S. versus Southeast Asia, right, in terms of the dynamics and the numbers. I was just reading a report last night about how in the US all female teams in terms of Start-Up funding have not necessarily risen, but stayed flat over time. But mixed teams, a man and a woman, founders, for example, have risen as a percentage of both the number of teams they've gotten funded as well as share funding.
So that's an interesting dynamic that's happening there. How do you think or compare and contrast, say the US data or trends that we've been seeing versus Southeast Asia local dynamics?

Tanya Rolfe: (12:27)
Very interesting. I think that it would be fair to say that we don't have an awful lot of data in Asia because VC as an industry is less mature than, say, Europe and the US. So, the data definitely is lacking in this region. I think that even though the US has had…US and Europe actually, two leading areas, geographies that on gender diversity and VC as well, you know, more sophisticated markets…even though they've had a spotlight on female founders and diverse founders more broadly, it hasn't always resulted in improved data.
So even though I talk about how dire it is in Southeast Asia, it's not that Southeast Asia is shockingly bad and everywhere else it's so much better. The data there doesn't actually, you know, it's marginally better, but not materially so. But interestingly, you point out that female founder teams remain flat, which is a really bad place for us to be, given how much we're talking about this, particularly in the West.
Interestingly, I have come across so many founders and I've even thought this myself, if I'm honest with you, is should I just go out and hire a token man to be in my team? And if you're looking at that data, the answer to that is probably yes, because I think that and I've come across so many female founders that have this very same thought, and some of them have gone out and done that, and it's made a difference, which is just absurd.
But I would love to see the data as we progress through the coming years and decade. I think the data in Southeast Asia will materialise more and more, and I don't think we're in that bad a shape compared to the rest of the world. I just think globally we're in a bad way. If you look at, I think it was 2012, female teams, all female teams received around, I think it was around 2.8% of VC dollars.
And in 2019, that figure was stagnant. So, we were still at 2.8%. So, in seven-year period, we had not moved the dial. But I'm sure during that period that we all thought that gender equality was somewhat top of our agenda when we were all focused on it and things were improving. And the reality is that it wasn't.
And then COVID hit 2019 and that 2.8%, which was already dire, went back to somewhere closer to 2%. And it's starting to pick up again. And you mentioned that data that you read, and I think it is a little bit improving. Last year, 2021. But if we carry on at this rate, we're going to take around 200 years to reach gender parity in the VC ecosystem between male founders and female founders and that is just not good enough.

Jeremy Au: (15:22)
One thing I noticed personally was that I had been sharing about angel investments that I am passionate about and I happened to Angel Invest in a female founder, a company who’s tackling wellness and biotech approach. And as I share about this, I realised that there's so many bad faith actors in real estate or other companies out there.
When I ever mentioned a male founder, nobody ever says, Oh, that's like Adam Neumann. But every time I mention I have a female biotech founder that I angel invested in, they always say, Oh, like Elizabeth Holmes, I don't understand why she gets brought up in every conversation for this founder type persona, but not for others. What do you think about that?
Do you think there are different consequences for failure or bad behaviour, or is it just because people just find it novel and interesting?

Tanya Rolfe: (16:23)
That's an amazing question. I like that. You're absolutely right. And actually, I was talking about this probably last week, a similar observation. I think that because there are so few female founders that are known that when something like this happens, it's really easy for us to, oh, that's a female founder like that. That's what happens. But you're right, of course, we have many, many male founders that have similar stories that we could talk about, but we don't.
I think that because we have so few women, what I would like to see is a right for…when you look at successful female founders, let's look at Bumble founder. I think they IPO-ed last year. When you look at her background, I mean, amazing story. I'm not taking anything away from that. But the female founders that succeed, if you look at their backgrounds, they had this amazing platform to succeed.
They went to the best schools, they went to the Ivy League colleges. They had the parents that had a lot of money. And that's just not fair because not every woman has that platform. So, we cannot live in a world where only the exceptional women with these this amazing foundation given to them, handed to them, can make it.
We deserve our right to be mediocre, just like men do. And I think that's where we should be trying to get to, where everyone, we all have that opportunity. And I think it's very easy for us to criticise women because we're…there's such a big fuss being made around making space for women. So, when something like that happens, it's easy to point to that as to the reason why we're not making that space, I think it's a get out, it's a copout.

Jeremy Au: (18:12)
That reminds me about how we have a whole new series on The Dropout on Elizabeth Holmes, and that came out pretty quick. And we haven't seen any equivalent for other founders to some extent. So, it could be interesting to see how we portray that story versus other movies like Social Networks amongst Zuckerberg and other founder types as well.

Tanya Rolfe: (18:33)
Yeah, I agree.

Jeremy Au: (18:34)
What's interesting about what you just said as well is that there's some intersectionality between class slash privilege slash education. Along with all of that, we just talked about gender as well as location, which corresponds somewhat to ethnicity or culture as well. How do you see that playing out? Because I think it's a tricky conversation because I think where we keep it simple, like gender gap one versus two, it's a little easier to have a conversation about when we have that intersectional piece and I think people find it very complicated, complex and difficult to have that conversation. So how would you recommend folks think about that intersection?

Tanya Rolfe: (19:18)
Yeah, I think where we are, Jeremy, and in Singapore, it's still very…people are still thinking very traditionally. I think that that's quite different. That's a big difference that I see between, say, here and my home country. So, I'm from the UK and I think that the people are unapologetic with regards to their backgrounds and I think that it's resonating and perhaps COVID has played a part in that.
And I feel that we are much more open and more values have come to the fore a lot more and we are much more open generally to diversity as a whole. So whether that's economically, gender wise, sexual orientation, etc, I think that we have some work to do in Asia to empower people to find that voice. And I think there's definitely cultural differences that will remain at play regardless.
Let's use LinkedIn as an example. I am seeing a lot more stories, relatable stories from people from all walks of life, from all backgrounds and people being very, very open about themselves and their personal story. Whether they had no money, they came from zero. This is how bad their life was. And look at them now like. So I think that people are finding their voice and I think that that is going to happen here too, I can see that already.

Jeremy Au: (20:48)
What's interesting about your personal experience is that you've actually tackled this problem, but through different approaches, right? Once as a syndicate, once as a fund, and now with Sophia from a learning platform, could you share a little bit more about what your experiences with those three approaches and why you're experimenting with these approaches and what you've learnt along the way?

Tanya Rolfe: (21:09)
Yeah, so I think there's a story to connect the three of them that will probably join up the dots for a lot of people. The Angel Investment Network that I started was going back to my just arrive fresh off the boat into Singapore. That was my sort of first foray into investing and I decided, okay, I need to find a group of women like me coming to get, likeminded women coming together to support female entrepreneurs in Asia.
It was that simple. Found 40 women who had capital and also some business expertise to offer to the founders that we wanted to support. Wonderful. We deployed capital across various sector agnostic, deployed our capital, supported those businesses. We still have all of those in our portfolio to this day. It was really during that time that I realised that, wow, we are inundated with female entrepreneurs in Asia and I was absolutely overwhelmed with the deal flow.
Which was ironic because when I was talking to investors in this region and people in the ecosystem, generally the view was and it's a very easy view to come up with if you're an investor is, oh, I don't think there's many female founders in this region. Well, actually, when you're a female investment network and your whole marketing strategy is around supporting women and you’re a group of women yourself, guess what?
There is a lot of female founders out there, investable female founders out there. It's just that the current ecosystem wasn't seeing them…and still to this day doesn't. I set out with a mission to…is that great quality talent in Southeast Asia female founders. Yes, there is. We can't keep up with this deal flow without using our own capital.
So, what do we do from here? The natural step was to organically evolve that into a venture fund. Great. That becomes a venture fund. I go out with the mission to raise the capital. There I am, pitching away Her Capital for almost every LP conversation. So, investor conversation went very similarly. Well, I don't think there's any female founders you can invest in.
I don't know about this strategy. Okay, well, look, we've been doing this for three years. There's lots of female founders out there, actually, this is why I think that you think that and I think you're wrong. And this is why we look at our deal flow. Look at this. Look at our track record here. Oh, no, I still don't see why female founders would come to you at Her Capital verses Sequoia.
Maybe because if you look at the portfolio of those VCs, there's not a lot of women in them and actually we were seeing female founders saying, we don't just want any old person on our cap table. We want to curate our cap table. We want to choose who our investors are. And yeah, there's not a lot of capital out there, but we're not just going to take money from anyone.
And that's a switch in the power dynamics because no longer have you got just a bunch of founders saying I just need money, I need money, I need money from anywhere. They're saying, well, I'm going to be picky about who my investors are. And actually, you as a female fund, you're exactly who I want on my cap table.
So the opportunity was just…it was an arbitrage opportunity. The opportunity for us as a fund was just huge. The deal flow was huge, the fund raising was just soul destroying because of this, these same repetitive conversations of no one really getting it. And I think it comes down to the fact that no one could see. And I think we were two or three years ahead of our time here in Asia.
And I think if we tried again in 2023, I think it would be a different story. So, coming to that conclusion of, oh my goodness, I'm not sure how much longer I can do this for. Fund raising is just ridiculously hard. I think, you know, I went away and thought deeply about this problem and I did not want to give up because there's this huge amount of female talent.
Why is never anyone else seeing this and went away, thought deeply about it and realised that actually the most empowering thought I could have was well, women already hold so much money as a population, which is over half the world's population. Yes, we want everyone involved. We do want guys involved in ensuring gender equality. But if the VC ecosystem doesn't want to get involved in that, then we should not just be completely deflated and give up.
We already hold so much wealth. How do we mobilise that capital that is currently held by women? Some 90 something trillion dollars? I think we plug the knowledge gap that exists and that's what Sophia does. So, it plugs that knowledge gap. It educates women on finance, right from financial basics through to cryptocurrency investing and angel and VC, which is obviously my speciality in the hope that we can mobilise some of that capital and drive that towards women led companies.

Jeremy Au: (26:33)
It’s interesting because you're tackling three different groups of people, right? As syndicate, people who already have the capital and experience in investing. A fund, you're working with the LPs, which is a different group base of capital and deploying that. And now you're doing education, which is like the earliest people who have not yet begun investing yet but are interested in doing so.
Is it that they more junior and more excited? What's that contrast versus the other people that you worked with?

Tanya Rolfe: (27:01)
You're absolutely right. There's more sophisticated investors, less sophisticated investors and complete novices and I think that we are really tackling the group that knows they need to do something with their money. It's sitting in the bank. They don't know where to start. There's so much information out there, who do I trust? Because if I go on to YouTube where everyone seems to have a YouTube channel talking about what to invest into, who's right and who's wrong, who do I trust?
I just don't know.
It's a very niche group of women that have some capital. They don't know where to go, they don't know who to trust, but they know that they want to do something with their money. And they also, most importantly, want to do something meaningful with that money. Data tells us women are much, much more likely to invest into greener companies, more sustainable companies.
Companies that hire more women into leadership roles, etc.. So, this benefits everyone, the entire planet. So, the fact that we don't have women investing is just catastrophic for the whole world. We need more women investing. We want to be very careful at Sophia. We're not about taking in a complete group of, for want of a better word, unsophisticated investors, new investors, and just throwing some skills at them and sending them out into the world to risk all of their money.
That would be completely unethical. This is about providing education and giving people the tools that we believe that they can then start…and if that's very small and benefiting from compounding those investments, that's what we want to do. Just to take that first step to start to do something that they want to do, but do it in a way that is safe and secure and surrounded by people that are in a similar position to them.
So it's not just here's some skills and now go off out into the big wide world and find some investments on your own because where do they go? What do they do? Who do they trust? All of those same problems that I just identified exists even with the education. So, we have to provide that platform where we can say, well, look, this is the education, and now let us help guide you with some of this investment.
You know, how where do you start and how do you do that in a safe, kind of comfortable way for you? So, it's a very different approach. But as three women founders ourselves who started out in a very similar way, we've lived and breathed this, and I've worked with women who're new to investing for some time, even the Ladies at Ladies Investment Club, some of them were brand new to investing, too.
So, this isn't my first rodeo with new investors. And it's amazing how when you talk the language and you walk the walk and you have been there and you've done that and you understand what language turns these women off and what language actually gets them excited. It just works. It just actually magically works.

Jeremy Au: (30:03)
What have this group of new learners…why are they most interested in learning from your perspective?

Tanya Rolfe: (30:09)
I think going back to the point I just made then, I think it is around how do I do something meaningful with my money? Where can I put it? And I think a lot of women fall into one of two camps and I was speaking to Stephanie from Stash Away the other day. She said that there are a lot of women that are too busy.
They haven't got the time to learn everything and they want to just hand over their money and know that someone is taking care of it. So that's one camp of women and I think that goes for men too. There are some men that are pretty similar in that way. But I think there is a huge group of women that want more and I think COVID, again, has advanced this and further compounded this need and desire to do something more meaningful with their life, with that money, as a mission that they live by. To know that their money is going towards something that is bettering the world, that perhaps is addressing some imbalance like gender inequality amongst founders. I think when we look around at the tech world and at businesses of the last decade or so, and VC, there's been a lot of really bad companies doing really bad stuff for our planet and our people. And I think that that has come to the fore of late. And I think that more and more women are an inch alive to this and want to put their money towards something that's improving the lives of people and improving the planet.


Jeremy Au: (31:41)
How would men be supportive or helpful?

Tanya Rolfe: (31:45)
This is a really interesting question because, on the one hand, I've sort of said, look, the male finance world is not serving women very well. Let us women just mobilise our own capital and do this on our own. I believe in that. And the reason I believe in that is that I don't want women to be victims. And I think if we just continue to bang our heads on brick walls, please give us some money for our business.
Then it makes us victims. And I don't think that that's where we want to be. However, that said, even if we can mobilise that capital and do things for ourselves and I firmly believe we can, I think clearly the mission will be achieved, the progress will be advanced, if we're all working towards the same thing. For me as a mother of a son and a daughter, I don't spend my time empowering my daughter.
I spend my time telling my son that his sister is his equal. So, he grows up and he sees her as his equal. So that's one thing I think we can all do that as parents, all of us parents anyway. I'm often asked about guys, how can they help? We just partnered with…I think it's insignia. A couple of their male partners are coming to an IWD event, our International Women's Day event.
Like we, we're working with men like we have our you know, I did a LinkedIn post last week asking men, raise your hands. Do you want to get involved? I think it's really easy for men to self-exclude on this type of thing because perhaps they feel a level of guilt or am I included in this as being part of the problem?
I don't think that that's the case. And I would urge men to do what they can to get involved in this, because I think that when you have guys actively leading, it makes people, everyone, men and women, stand up and take notice because this is not a problem that is affecting them. This is a problem that's affecting someone, another group of people.
So, to have men stand up and talk about this is an issue and consciously think about it in their investment decisions, for example. I think that is a very bold statement.

Jeremy Au: (33:55)
Thank you so much for sharing. On that note, could you share with us a personal story where you have been BRAVE?

Tanya Rolfe: (34:01)
So my motto in life is fortune favours the brave. And actually I have it written on my whiteboard right in front of me. I think the bravest thing I've ever done is people keep telling me, and I think it might be brave slash stupid was people couldn't believe I was setting up another business. And I think people saw the stress and the anguish over the fundraising at her capital.
And I think that when you say, okay, well, I'm trying this because I think this is the answer to my problem that I had at her capital. I think that people think, well, that's mad. You should just go and get a job at PricewaterhouseCoopers because that's nice and safe and you get your nice salary and go home at 6PM.
And then they see me working really hard at Sophia and they think, Wow, what are you doing? But for me? I just feel like, yeah, like it might be a little bit bold, but I think it's brave. I feel brave actually doing this again because undertaking a Start-Up is no small feat as you well know.


Jeremy Au: (35:09)
That's a good reminder that you have been an investor, a founder of a fund, and then now you're back to being a founder again. Could share a little bit more about that role reversal or change. Do you feel like your identity has shifted as well?

Tanya Rolfe: (35:24)
Yes. I still get a lot of deals coming in. I still do some angel investing myself. Yeah, it has. And actually, this week we were approached at Sofia within the first week of launch. I think we had four VCs in Singapore ask us for meetings and there I was talking to the VCs as a founder. The funny thing is, is that I joined these calls without the fear of that I think a founder usually has when they're on a VC call, because I'm sure that most VCs, they spend weeks preparing pitch decks and answers to questions that they might get asked.
And I just rocked up to the calls, kind of cool as a cucumber. And then people were saying, Well, when can we invest? And I’m like no. You can't invest when we're not ready for investment. We don't want investment. And my co-founders were like, Wow, you're so cool, like your job. And I was like, Well, yeah, but it's not right for us, right?
It's not the right move for us. So, I think it's given me a very different sense of comfort and that I wouldn't have otherwise had when having investor conversations, if people are asking me about investing in Sophia, I understand and I'm not desperate and I have an understanding of what investors want and what they're looking for. And so, I'm not on edge and really uncomfortable and thinking I'm going to get asked a difficult question, etc. I'm very chill.
So yeah, it's a very different role, but one that I think the former is helping me with this lateral.

Jeremy Au: (36:58)
Amazing. Thank you so much, Tanya, for sharing all of that. On that note, I’d like to kind of like summarise the three big themes I got from this conversation. The first is thank you so much for sharing a lot of detail. We got quite deep into the female capital and funding gap. So, we talked about what it looks like in the U.S. and globally, we talk about how it looks like in Southeast Asia.
We talk about how it intersects with income and class and education and geography and culture. So, some interesting dynamics that we got to discuss and really got some flavour about the urgency and importance of the issue, especially because there's a difference between the gap or the divergence on the founder side and the gap and divergence on the investor side and it's interesting to see how they interplay with each other with how you shared it.
The second thing that I really appreciated was you actually sharing your different identities, right? Being a syndicate leader, being a fund leader and being a founder in terms of education. So, it was interesting to see, I think, the line that connects that, the journey, the learnings, the evolution as well as your preferences and how it has shifted over time into this identity. So that was pretty interesting.
Lastly, thank you so much for sharing about I think the personal stories about how fortune favours the brave, about how you are learning and championing some of those virtues that you call upon for others to do, and all those personal anecdotes about how you see that play out, you know, different roles has really been interesting.
So, thank you so, Tanya, for sharing your journey with us.

Tanya Rolfe: (38:35)
Thank you so much, Jeremy, for having me. I really enjoyed our chat. Thank you.

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