Abyah Nycole Wynn: Co-Founder, Managing Director of the Twenty65 Fund
A few weeks ago, I came across a feature of Abyah Nycole Wynn on Forbes and instantly knew that her story was one I had to share.
Abyah is a venture capitalist who is actively providing funding for women and minority executives and founders. As an African American woman in the industry, she knows what she’s talking about.
When describing the investment gap for women and minorities, Abyah described the need for changing the way we think of the ‘typical founder’. She stated, “More often than not, when people think ‘founder’ they think of Mark Zuckerberg or Elon Musk. But what about Whitney Wolfe from Bumble or Caryn Seidman-Becker from Clear?”
She had a point—and one that a lot of us are guilty of. When I finished reading her feature, I went straight to LinkedIn and found her profile. This was someone I needed to connect with.
Abyah’s current focus is the Twenty65 Fund, an investment fund dedicated to women and minorities of which she is the co-founder and managing director of. She also holds the position of Vice President of Business Development at Trimantium, a principal investment and advisory firm.
CON: Hi Abyah, thank you so much for taking the time to answer a few questions. I want to start by asking about your current role as Vice President of Business Development at Trimantium Capital. How did you get started?
ANW: My role has actually transitioned recently; I’m now the co-founder and managing director of the Twenty65 Fund . I still hold my VP role at Trimantium, but Twenty65 is my main priority right now.
I got my start because the founder and managing director of Trimantium Capital reached out to me. I was on a shortlist of candidates and I went through a very rigorous interview process to head up U.S. operations, business development, and investor relations for Trimantium Capital, and over the past three years my role has transitioned from operations to investing.
A year and a half ago, my partner and I sat down and decided there was a real gap in the industry for capital allotment toward minority and female founders. That need really birthed the Twenty65 Fund.
Prior to joining Trimantium, I didn’t have aspirations to go into venture capital; because of a lack of representation, I didn’t know that being a venture capitalist was an option for me. I’d only seen one type of VC. Thankfully my role at Trimantium has changed the trajectory of my career and I’m extremely grateful to have been given the opportunity.
CON: When you are working with entrepreneurs, how do you assess the potential success of their company? Is there anything in specific you look for?
ANW: One of the best indicators I look for is previous success and track record. If I am dealing with a first-time entrepreneur, I like to assess how they’ve prioritized the foundation of their company. When a founder starts by identifying their culture, their goals, their mission, their morals and values, that says a lot about the founder. I believe setting those mandates in the beginning, before you hire anyone, is the way to build a strong team and a strong foundation. Effective communication skills are vital, and it’s important for an entrepreneur to have a clear vision about what they’re building and how they plan to succeed.
CON: You mentioned your current priority, which is the Twenty65 Fund—can you speak on this? Your commitment to improving venture capital funding for women and all minorities is truly inspiring.
ANW: Twenty65 Fund is focused on investing in female and minority founders. At the core of the thesis is really the focus on diversity in the broadest sense. 2.7 percent of all VC dollars go to women and only 0.2 percent go to women of color. The numbers are staggering. The lack of intentionality behind investments and the lack of inclusion puts minority and female founders at a disadvantage.
CON: As a highly qualified woman dominating in a male-based industry, can you describe any challenges you faced on your path to get where you are today?
ANW: I’d say the biggest challenge I face is getting out of my own way — not buying into the limits that society places on me as an African American female and just believing in my abilities, and knowing my self worth.
I feel like a lot of women in male-dominated industries sometimes suffer from impostor syndrome where they don’t feel that they have the right to be there. Having an unyielding confidence in my abilities is what allowed me to nip that feeling in the bud and enabled me to get to the next level.
CON: Lastly, what guidance would you provide to women inspired by your story?
ANW: You should operate from a mindset of abundance rather than scarcity. By that I mean as a woman, when you are successful in your career, help other women. Pull up a chair. Reach down and pull someone up. Don’t think that there’s only one seat at the table. When we band together and help each other, we’re able to do incredible things. Sticking together and creating community are the only ways we’ll be able to make a dent in the barriers that all women face.
To learn more about the Twenty65 Fund, visit: https://www.twenty65fund.com/
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August 12, 2017
August 12, 2017