Brazen Global is excited to introduce Kristin Fox, the new Director of Brazen Chicago!
The most valuable lesson I’ve learned over the course of my career as an incurable entrepreneur, sometimes-angel investor, and fierce advocate for women in business, is how to identify opportunities and seize them. I knew from the moment a friend told me about Brazen that this was who I was going to be next.
I’m a builder and not a maintenance person. I began my career as a journalist and preferred starting niche publications over working for big news organizations. I left journalism in the early 1990s and became the third employee of a hedge fund consultant. This wasn’t just a start-up firm, it was a start-up industry. I didn’t know the difference between a hedgehog and a hedge fund when I started, but I had wonderful mentors and I learned. It was because of those mentors that I had the opportunity to marry journalism and hedge funds into an internet-based news, data, and research business that ultimately was sold to Reuters. Leaving Reuters in 2009 lead to a series of start-ups and ultimately to Brazen.
My start-up career extended into the non-profit world as well. In the early part of my hedge fund career, I was typically the only woman in the room. Sadly, no women who had gone before me were willing to be mentors. That presented an opportunity and I became one of the founding board members of 100 Women in Hedge Funds (now 100 Women in Finance). Started in 2001, 100 Women is now a global trade association and foundation supporting women in the financial industry and providing philanthropic funds to organizations benefiting women’s health, education and mentoring.
Chicago entrepreneurs face the same challenges as their peers in other places. Funding is scarce and the market is competitive. As is the case across the country, women in our region do not receive the lioness’ share of funding. Because Chicago is a large geographic area, it’s easy to become isolated, and the distance can make collaboration and camaraderie difficult. Brazen offers so much of what I wished I had had early in my start-up career. If I had had the ability to harness the wisdom of the crowd and to network strategically with like-minded, growth-focused women, I would have had far fewer scraped knees, elbows and checkbooks.
Brazen offers unique solutions to the challenges women founders in Chicago face. Brazen Growth Groups brings small groups of like-minded founders together monthly to discuss their challenges and be accountable to one another. As a geek, I really like the proprietary software that “runs” the meeting. Growth Groups allow everyone to get out of their offices and out of their heads and really harness the wisdom of the crowd.
Roundtables are another powerful Brazen tool. Roundtables help entrepreneurs get through the tipping points, which can too easily become quitting points. Members sit down in small groups and discuss a specific subject matter with an expert. It could be funding, expansion, marketing, or any of the numerous tasks that entrepreneurs face beyond the passion that led them to their business in the first place. The beauty of Brazen Roundtables is that they are designed to meet the specific needs of members and I think that really strengthens the community.
My vision for Chicago is a healthy, self-perpetuating ecosystem where education brings funders and founders together. I believe that strengthening that relationship will yield successful companies and profitable portfolios. Ultimately, those successful founders will become tomorrow’s funders and the cycle will repeat itself. But first, we must bridge the funding gap! Onward Brazen!
Chicago just got a lot more Brazen! CLICK HERE to become a Member today. To schedule office hours with Kristin and learn more about Brazen Chicago, CLICK HERE. Keep in touch with Brazen Chicago happenings on Facebook and Brazen Global on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.