Next Act Fund is proud to include in its membership inspiring, proactive leaders who believe in being bold and championing women. Periodically, we plan to highlight some of our members to share their inspirational stories.
For our first showcase, we are featuring Kelley Skoloda and her LinkedIn article with her thoughts on why Next Act Fund is meaningful to her.
Those of you who know me, know that I’ve advocated for women and girls for most of my life. I come by it honestly. My mom, who is a strong, working woman who raised four kids while my dad, a Marine Corps drill instructor, served our country, sent me to an all-women’s college where female leadership was cultivated (thanks, mom and Seton Hill!). In my career, I have focused on marketing to women and moms, which became my professional and personal passion, as well as the subject for my book, and helped Ketchum become a thought-leader agency in a lucrative area of consumer marketing. As a mom, I work to show my daughter and my son the importance of gender parity.
Given my background, I guess it’s not a surprise that I see International Women's Day as sort of a holiday – a special day to celebrate, reflect and acknowledge accomplishments. But, this year, IWD challenges us to boldly take action, #BeBoldforChange.
So, I am doing something I consider to be bold -- something I have read about, thought about and researched. Something I am pretty excited about doing. I am putting my money where my mouth is. I am becoming an angel investor with a focus on women-owned and women-led companies.
I’ve always been intrigued by venture capital and angel funding and disturbed by the gender gap. Perhaps you, too, have read that only seven percent of venture capital funding goes to women-owned businesses and that female entrepreneurs are often encouraged to “act like men” so they can relate better to the 89 percent of male venture capitalists. On the angel funding side, about 26 percent of the angel investors are women and there is rising interest in investing in women-owned and led businesses.
A few months ago, I heard that a female-focused angel investment group (there are only a handful in the country) may be starting in Pittsburgh. After some investigating, I found that the Next Act Fund was forming, with a focus on early-stage businesses, and it was looking for founding members. After a lot of discussion at home and exploration with other potential investors, I am proud to say I am now one of the first 20 members of women, along with several men, who will be investing in other women via Next Act. With a vibrant ecosystem of education, multi-culturalism and innovation incubators, Pittsburgh is one of the hottest markets in the country for technology and start-ups, and provides plenty of funding possibilities.
I am excited to be supporting female entrepreneurs in my region. I am excited to be a role model for my kids, showing them you can take risks and follow your true north. I am excited to be doing something that will enable so much learning and new connections. And, I am excited to hopefully see my investments grow.
This is my story of #BeBoldforChange. What’s yours? Together, we can make an impact that will change the world, one bold step at a time.