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Conversations with the Inspiring Kristin Fox

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kristin Fox.

Kristin, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
My first career was as a journalist and I decided to leave journalism in the early 1990s when the attitude changed towards “No carnage; no coverage” and I wasn’t interested in standing on garbage cans and looking in people’s bedroom windows to get a story. I landed in hedge funds in their early years and worked as a consultant building brand and learning to put together a fund of funds portfolios. I left to join a start-up that combined my love of journalism with hedge funds, data, and events. We sold HedgeWorld to Reuters in 2005 and left when Thomson acquired Reuters in 2008.

While I was at HedgeWorld, I met an incredible group of women and together we built 100 Women in Hedge Funds, now 100 Women in Finance. 100 WiHF was both a trade association (to date, we’ve produced more than 800 educational events around the world) and a foundation, which supports women’s health, education and mentoring charities globally.

For the past ten years, I’ve started a number of businesses, including a hedge fund consultancy (FoxInspires), which also provides education about alternative investments for investors; a news and data business for investors in legal cannabis (sold in 2017) and co-founded FinFoundHer with Holly Glowaty and Kristen Kilroy-Thiry in 2018.

FinFoundHer started because the three of us saw so many great women-owned start-ups that just couldn’t move forward because they couldn’t get the funding. Many of the funding issues were directly related to not understanding the funding process and not having the right answers to investor questions. We knew we could fix that problem with education. In May of last year, we held our first 2-day event at evolveHer in Chicago and it was a resounding success. We covered all the tough topics, including valuation, cap tables, and corporate structures. We’ve got some exciting plans in the works and I’m looking forward to effecting change for women entrepreneurs on a global basis in the near future.

Also, while we were building FInFoundHer, I was introduced to a group out of St. Louis called Brazen. Brazen is a membership organization that focuses exclusively on helping women founders grow their businesses through focused education and peer advisory groups. I really respect what they created in St. Louis and as a result, we agreed to bring Brazen to Chicago, with me acting as champion and director.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Entrepreneurship is never a smooth road. I’ve faced everything from bad partners (if you have one, get rid of he/she immediately) to 9/11 nearly destroying my NY-based business. You just keep going.

My advice to young women is to stay focused and not get distracted by shiny things. Staying the course is hard and you will cry, scream, laugh, love and hate your business–often all of these things in a 15-minute time span–but I promise that it is so very worth it.

Finally, as Mickey Siebert (my mentor and the first woman to buy a seat on the New York Stock Exchange) said to me, “Keep your head down and charge forward!”

What should we know about FoxInspires & FinFoundHer? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
At FinFoundHer we help women entrepreneurs demystify the capital-raising process. There are some great business ideas out there, but if they can’t get the funding they will die on the vine. When I was a hedge fund consultant, one of my mentors told me that when you went in to ask an investor for money, you needed to have all the answers to their questions. It’s much harder to say no when you’ve answered all of their questions in a way that makes sense. Most women business owners, unless they have a financial services background, don’t know what the questions are, let alone what the answers should be. We teach them what the questions are; what the answers should be; and how to anticipate further questions.

Looking back on your childhood, what experiences do you feel played an important role in shaping the person you grew up to be?
My parents were extremely supportive and always told me I could do anything I set my mind to. They also made sure I understood that I was never working without a net and knowing that I had their support certainly played a role in developing my risk profile.

My mother always told me that if there were five people doing a thing, it was time to do something different. Later in life, I changed that to three people and the concept taught me to be opportunistic in a healthy way. That attitude kept me from developing a herd mindset and encouraged me to reach and try new things.

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Kristin Fox

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