Money makes the business world go ’round and ’round, as de Gaspé Beaubien-Mattrick has proven
After graduating from Harvard Business School, Nanon de Gaspé Beaubien-Mattrick worked with a male-dominated team in the broad girdle division of Playtex International. “Okay guys,” she would say, “you say the girdle doesn’t ride up. Who’s worn it recently?”
That experience cemented her conviction that every business needs gender balance. Throughout her career, which included a decade as senior VP at Telemedia Corporation, she saw the same inconsistency. While women currently buy three out of every four products purchased in North America, they struggle to find money for their own businesses. Only eight per cent of venture capital funding, she points out, goes to women.
After her family sold Telemedia, she often fielded questions from entrepreneurs about marketing, strategy or financing. She enjoyed the process of working through these issues with new business owners, and in 2012 she started Beehive Holdings—an angel fund with a particular focus on women and products that appeal to them. It was about providing funding, but also about offering the mentorship, network and connections to help entrepreneurs succeed. “Investing is a relationship, through good times and bad times,” she says. “I always believed that if you put a little skin in the game, you’re much more involved.”
Beehive has invested in more than 20 businesses, and typically cuts cheques of between $25,000 and $1.5 million. De Gaspé Beaubien-Mattrick lists the qualities she looks for in a successful pitch: the business is solving a pain point, it can scale up, its competition is not overwhelming, and the financials make sense. “I see a lot of great ideas,” she says, “but it’s the people that make it happen.” And its her mission to see more women meet that criterion.
“The whole age-old debate about entrepreneurship is, Are you born an entrepreneur or are you learned? The research is now saying: learned. So I think when you see other women who have done it, you go, ‘Hey, she did it, I’m going to try.’ The more women that get involved, the more they will be successful and invest in others.”