Advice for leaders and founders from an investor’s perspective

Interview with Jessica Karr, Founding General Partner at Coyote Ventures
June 14, 2022
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Jessica Karr is a Founding General Partner of Coyote Ventures, an early stage venture capital fund investing in women’s health and wellness. Jessica worked for 6+ years designing and launching the Impossible burger as the 12th employee. She consulted with over a dozen startups internationally on product strategy and led the investment team at DuContra Ventures, a celebrity-founded impact VC fund. Her angel investments have all grown to become unicorns, and she’s a proud LP in women-led funds.

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What are the traits of a successful leader?

One of the best traits a leader should have is adaptability. Leaders must know how to deal with any situation that may come up. Things don’t always go as planned, so being able to adapt to any situation, whether good or bad, makes a good leader without losing your ultimate goal. It is also essential that leaders know how to keep their promises. They need to keep their word to anyone who puts their trust in them, including the investors. 

What advice would you give to somebody who is starting their first startup? 

They first have to know and be clear on their mission and vision and what their company would be serving. The more you do customer research, the better. 

Successful leaders and founders can stay true to their vision while navigating the challenges in life because they understand their mission.

It is also essential to build relationships early on, especially with people who can help you as advisors or be part of your team. Get an excellent team who can understand your vision to help you reach your goals. 

What’s the best way to build relationships? 

To build relationships, you have to have a common ground and give back whenever you can. Some of my best working relationships were built by understanding our differences and pushing past them to find common ground to achieve common goals. 

I had a co-worker I didn’t get along with for so long because we were so different on so many levels and did not get to see eye to eye. But because we both had the same goal, we were able to build a collaborative relationship. Everyone is different one way or another, and just like any relationship, you just have to look for that common ground and respect each other. 

What’s one app that’s not in your portfolio but use every day?

I use this app called Wild.AI. It is an app for women athletes that helps you learn how to use the knowledge of your menstrual cycle for training. It enables you to get to your peak performance by utilizing the understanding of your female physiology. 

I personally train for triathlons, and even if I do the same exact run, depending on my condition, I could feel great or exhausted! There are many exciting startups in women’s health, and I love the opportunity to invest in the field. 

Tell us about your founding journey at Coyote Ventures?

I first fell in love with start-ups when I began working in R&D for Impossible Foods, where I helped develop and launch the Impossible Burger. It was exciting to be part of the seed stage to now a $7 billion company. It was then that I realized that I love the early stages of start-ups and started working with startups for a while.  My experience working with start-ups is helping me with my investment decisions. I worked with food tech investments for a while and now I’m investing in women’s health. Unfortunately, many of the deals I voted for in the investment committee did not get funded when I was working for existing funds. That’s why, about a year ago, I started Coyote Ventures to make my own investment decisions. It happened a lot sooner than I thought, but I felt it was the right time, and everything fell in place. 

What do you look for when you invest in a startup?

We look at a lot of different areas before investing. We look at the product, financial models, growth, and team composition – We don’t just invest in the company but also the people running it. I like to spend time with the founders to get to know them. My first meeting with the founders is often not even about the business but more about understanding their motivation, vision, and how they are as a person. 

I also like to invest in companies that already have products developed, even if it’s an MVP, with some traction. We want to know if the product is something customers want and are willing to pay for. We also check if the company is equitable for the investors, founders, and employees, if the product is accessible and has potential for future growth.

Learn more about Coyote Ventures.

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