Startup Investor, Author and Speaker Fran Hauser on leveling the playing field for women
Please share a brief introduction about yourself and your business:
I’m passionate about leveling the playing field for women. I do this through my investing, writing and speaking. I’ve invested in over 30 female-founded companies, written two books to help women realize their full career potential, and done over 200 talks over the last three years. Much of my current work is informed by the 20 years I spent in corporate as both a C-suite executive and a mentor to hundreds of women. My first book The Myth of the Nice Girl: Achieving a Career You Love Without Becoming a Person You Hate has been translated into six languages and was named “Best Business Book of the Year, 2018” by Audible. My second title, Embrace the Work, Love Your Career will be released in March 2022.
What made you take the leap to start your own business?
I started angel investing and advising as a side hustle, while I was at Time Inc.. I ended up loving my side hustle more than my job! I also knew that going off on my own would give me more flexibility and time with my kids. I’ve invested in over 30 female-founded companies and have never looked back. I truly love what I do.
What was your background prior to starting your own business?
I worked at a wide range of companies from startups to Fortune 500 companies in general management roles. My last corporate role was President of Digital at Time Inc., where I ran the digital businesses for brands like PEOPLE, InStyle, and Entertainment Weekly.
Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
I think deep down I did. I grew up with immigrant parents who owned small businesses and I worked with them starting at a very young age. So I’ve been entrenched in business my whole life!
Take us back to when you first launched your business, what was your marketing strategy to get the word out and did it go as planned?
My business is very much about relationships; it’s about access to deal flow and other investors. So my strategy in the beginning was literally all about connecting with people and being helpful. And it worked! Fast forward 8 years later, and my strategy is still the same.
What is the biggest challenge you have encountered along the way and what did you learn from it?
In the beginning, I invested in a couple of deals purely based on the other investors that were involved. I was a bit star struck and felt “if they invested, then I should too.” I did this even though my gut feeling about the founders was off. There was something that wasn’t sitting right with me when I left a conversation with them. Both businesses failed, partly because of character/integrity issues with the founders. Needless to say, I am trusting my gut much more (and valuing my own opinions over others).
What is the accomplishment you are the most proud of to date?
I just co-led my first SPV for an awesome company called Small Packages. It was their first fundraising round and we brought in 31 female investors (5 of whom made their first angel investment ever). It was the first time I took a lead role in a fund raise and it felt amazing. I have three other SPVs in the works, which is really exciting.
Do you believe in work/life balance? What are some of your best tips?
Now more than ever, it all feels like its blending. The best advice I can give is that when you’re feeling overwhelmed, stop everything you’re doing and pick one thing to focus your attention on. It might be something that’s time sensitive OR something that’s nagging at you OR maybe your child is having a meltdown and needs some love. Whatever it is, give yourself 20 minutes to focus on it. Just that one thing. 20 minutes. Check in on how you’re feeling after the 20 minutes is up. Do you have the energy to tackle another item? If yes, great. If not, take a breather and come back to your list when you’re ready.
What’s a piece of advice you can share that you wish you’d known when you first started your Entreprenista journey?
I hired a couple of “Janes-of-all-trades” and it didn’t work. I wanted an easy solution, but ended up realizing how important it is to have experts. I ended up with a larger team (of freelancers); but each one of them is SO good at what they do.
What have you achieved recently that you’d like to celebrate with our community?
The launch of my second book: Embrace the Work, Love Your Career. I was inspired to write it during the height of the pandemic when I saw so many of my friends and colleagues questioning their purpose, their career path, and, on a more tactical level, their day-to-day work. I wanted to provide a framework to help them and others 𝗿𝗲𝗳𝗹𝗲𝗰𝘁, 𝗲𝘅𝗽𝗹𝗼𝗿𝗲, and, ultimately, 𝘁𝗮𝗸𝗲 𝗮𝗰𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻 so that they can create a career that they love.
What’s next for your business? What can we expect to see over the next few years?
I’d like to help more founders by playing a lead role in their fundraising, I think I have a third book in me (it’s marinating as we speak!), and I’m getting more and more excited about Web3 and this next wave of innovation.