CC045: Elizabeth Galbut of SoGal Ventures // the first female-led millennial venture capital firm (from CES 2020)

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Elizabeth Galbut 0:00
When you look in the developing world, you would assume that sort of their increase of cancer rates would sort of happen the same way it did in places like America. But when you actually look, as soon as they get like actual mattress beds, they spike up to where sort of american cancer rates are right now, which is sort of telling me once you have you know, fabrics that are covered and flame retardant, then cancer spikes.

Jay Clouse 0:25
The startup investment landscape is changing, and world class companies are being built outside of Silicon Valley. We find them, talk with them and discuss the upside of investing in them. Welcome to upside. Hello, hello, hello, and welcome to the upside podcast, the first podcast finding outside outside of Silicon Valley. I’m Jay Clouse, and I’m accompanied by my co-host, Mr. Close The Rings himself, Eric Hornung.

Eric Hornung 1:03
Jay, we have been here at CES for what feels like 14 years. And we have walked what feels like 1400 miles per day.

Jay Clouse 1:12
I have become so old here.

Eric Hornung 1:14
Yeah, you have a beard.

Jay Clouse 1:17
A neckbeards coming, too.

Eric Hornung 1:18
Yeah. So we decided that, you know, the shuttles aren’t worth it. It’s not worth waiting in that line to stand on a crowded bus to stop in traffic. And Uber’s and Lyfts are too expensive for a young podcast on a bootstrap budget. So we decided to hugg it just about everywhere at CES, meaning that we’re averaging over 11 miles a day. And I am on fire with my ring challenge.

Jay Clouse 1:43
Is it really 11 miles? How many steps are in a mile?

Eric Hornung 1:46
2,000.

Jay Clouse 1:47
Wow, that is wild. Yeah, I mean, we’re walking close to two miles from the hotel to the convention center.

Eric Hornung 1:53
And then when you’re at the convention center, you’re walking a mile and a half, two miles just walking around.

Jay Clouse 1:57
You’re right. I forget how big this place is. It’s like mini-cities inside of each of these venues, these hotels, everything.

Eric Hornung 2:03
There are legitimate full cities in the United States that don’t have as many people in them as are in this one hall at CES.

Jay Clouse 2:13
But you’ve inspired me to start paying attention to my Apple Health app, which apparently I set up at one point, didn’t realize. So I’m tracking my steps now, which is good. Used to have a Fitbit, Eric, but I didn’t like wearing both a Fitbit and a watch. It seemed like I was wearing two watches, and I felt like a square.

Eric Hornung 2:28
Are you going to get an Apple Watch now?

Jay Clouse 2:30
No, because I like the look in the diversity in regular watches.

Eric Hornung 2:35
You could wear regular watches when you go out and Apple watches on your like business day to day.

Jay Clouse 2:41
That’s true. We met somebody earlier this week that actually had a regular watch, and on the bottom of the watch band, his Apple Watch. So he was literally wearing two watches on one band on his wrist, which is a very interesting solution to this that he pulled off very well. But he’s also very well dressed, and I don’t know that I could pull it off.

Eric Hornung 3:00
Right, you wanted to wear tie dye out and about on the town. So maybe, maybe that’s not your look.

Jay Clouse 3:08
That shirt was a gift.

Eric Hornung 3:09
I’m sure it’s a great gift. It’s just you know, maybe not the right place is the top of the strap.

Jay Clouse 3:14
Well speaking of health tech, today we are talking with Elizabeth Galbut, the founding partner of SoGal Ventures. Elizabeth Gilbert is a venture capitalist, designer, professor and global speaker on healthcare innovation. She’s a managing partner of SoGal Ventures which invests in diverse founding teams in the US and in Asia. With over 60 investments to date, she is actively seeking to back exceptional startups revolutionising how the next generation lives, works, and stays healthy. Elizabeth was recently honored as a Forbes 30 under 30 inventure capital and was mentioned on stage at the first kickoff keynote at CES as an investment that CTA made into different venture capital teams, including our friends at Home Capital.

Eric Hornung 3:55
Yeah, SoGal is one of those funds that I don’t know almost anything about except for the fact that I see them on Twitter all the time, and not from them, but from other people talking about them. That’s usually a good indication of there’s something special here.

Jay Clouse 4:11
Love that. Love that. I’m excited to dive into this. It seems like Elizabeth spends her time investing in frontier technology that is a little bit outside of what you may see most venture capitalists putting time and money into studying. It seems like she might be putting an emphasis on some true improvements in the quality of life and wellness space. If you guys have any thoughts as we go through this interview with Elizabeth, you can tweet at us @upsideFM or email us hello@upside.fm. And w’ll get to that interview right after this.

Eric Hornung 4:45
Jay, this summer we had some fantastic interns, but we were spoiled because we didn’t have to do as much work. So if we wanted to hire someone, I don’t even know what we would do.

Jay Clouse 4:55
It would be really hard to find the quality of interns who really just came to us this summer. I’m already thinking, how are we going to find interns like this again? If we ever want to hire a full time employee, Eric, how are we going to find somebody that high quality?

Eric Hornung 5:08
You know, there’s probably nothing out there, to be honest.

Jay Clouse 5:10
I think you’re wrong because our friends at Integrity Power Search can help hire the best talent for your startup. They’re the number one, full stack, high growth startup recruiting firm between the coasts, partnering with venture capitalists, private equity groups, and CEOs to build amazing teams.

Eric Hornung 5:25
That’s right. Since 2012, they’ve successfully executed over 600 searches and they’re on track for 200 in 2019. Their clients have collectively raised over 2.5 billion with a B in venture funding, and that’s still going. Still counting, Jay. They’re experts in all types of areas, including SAS, autonomous vehicles, artificial intelligence, big data, you name it, they’re there if it’s between the coasts.

Jay Clouse 5:50
Basically, if you’re hiring, Integrity Power Search is your go to. They are the plug, Eric. And so here’s the plug for them. Go to upside.fm/integrity and learn more about how integrity power search can help you with your hiring needs. Elizabeth, welcome to the show.

Elizabeth Galbut 6:11
Thank you so much, Jay and Eric.

Eric Hornung 6:13
On upside, we like to start with a background of the guests. So can you tell us about the history of Elizabeth?

Elizabeth Galbut 6:18
Of course, I’m Elizabeth Galvin. I’m one of the founding partners of SoGal Ventures as well as the Co-President of the SoGal foundation. We’re on a mission to redefine the next generation of diverse founders and funders around the world. And we do that on the venture capital side by investing in amazing, diverse founding teams that are revolutionising how the next generations will live, work and stay healthy. So think consumer tech, enterprise software, as well as health tech. And we invest in companies all over the world. I know your podcast focuses on under represented regions, and that’s actually a big part of our investment thesis because we believe great companies can be built anywhere.

Jay Clouse 7:01
Why did you decide that you wanted to ladder into ways that we live, work and stay healthy when you were starting this fund?

Elizabeth Galbut 7:08
Yeah, so we’re really looking at things that impact the lives of millennials and Generation Z. So when you just look at the statistics in the venture capital world, about 96% of venture capitalists are white men, traditionally, sort of older generations. When we first started this, we were 24 and 26. And so we were, right, like millennials ourselves, and also friends with a lot of people in Generation Z, and really looking at all the missed opportunities that traditional venture capitalists were passing over because they simply didn’t understand, you know, what was really coming up the pipeline and how this would so deeply impact all of our lives.

Jay Clouse 7:44
Are there any examples that come to mind as to, like, a company that was doing really well but kept getting passed over because people just didn’t get it?

Elizabeth Galbut 7:50
Yeah. So there’s a company right now in our portfolio who, you know, she is a complete beast infundraising and sort of like, resiliants but definitely had a tough time at the beginning and middle. So the CEO is Polly Rodriguez, and she has a company called Unbound.

Jay Clouse 8:08
Polly was my concierge when I used grouper.

Elizabeth Galbut 8:11
Wow.

Eric Hornung 8:13
Is that serious?

Jay Clouse 8:13
Well, because I used, I was a grouper power user, sadly, and Polly was my concierge. So like I had followed her on Twitter or something, and I saw when she started this company,

Elizabeth Galbut 8:22
Yeah, so Unbound is a company for female sexual health and wellness. And it’s actually, when you look at sort of comparing the market of, like, say something like condoms or the market of, you know, erectile dysfunction drugs, which, right, have raised money at billions of dollars, like Hims or Roman, right? Female sexual health and wellness barely gets any funding compared to that. And a lot of investors passes over, even though the size of the market is multiple times larger, and it’s a really underserved market. So of course when you’re pitching, right, to 96%, older white men about female sexual health and wellness, that can be turned into, you know, some really awkward conversations where they just completely don’t understand where you’re coming from or make inappropriate comments, or don’t take you seriously, right? And that’s really challenging for any sort of founders in the sex tech, female sexual health space. So that’s one thing where, it’s like as, right, female millennial women, like, we connected to Polly, we followed her for a little bit, and then after one pitch meeting, it was like, yes, this is it, right? Like, she’s faced so many other challenges, like female sexual health and wellness is not allowed to advertise on Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, the subway system in New York, even though, you know, male erectile dysfunction…

Jay Clouse 9:43
Really?

Elizabeth Galbut 9:43
…is. They can’t use Stripe, they can’t, you know, use QuickBooks. They get…

Jay Clouse 9:49
What?

Elizabeth Galbut 9:49
…stalled from all payment providers, like the amount of obstacles her and other sextech founders have had to face is absolutely insane. But these amazing female founders just like, they persist no matter what. And finally, they’re able, after multiple years of sort of fighting, like, Facebook to be able to do some advertising, so they’re able to advertise a few products, not all products, but it’s just like blatant biased and double standards that, you know, male sexual health and wellness is considered reproductive needs, and therefore a health care need, where female sexual health and wellness is considered pleasure and therefore not necessary.

Jay Clouse 9:49
What?

Elizabeth Galbut 9:53
When, it’s actually, it’s really quite the opposite.

Jay Clouse 10:33
Quite the opposite, I would expect.

Elizabeth Galbut 10:34
Yeah.

Jay Clouse 10:36
Wow. So I mean, raising a fund, I’m sure you encountered the same struggles.

Elizabeth Galbut 10:41
Of course.

Jay Clouse 10:42
So how did that go? How did you guys raise a fund at the age that you did with this thesis?

Elizabeth Galbut 10:46
Yeah, it was really hard. So we spent almost three years raising this fund and we have over 90 LPs now. It probably took over 2,000 or 3,000 meetings. And you know, lots of sign documents and reassurances that we were getting money that then didn’t come to fruition, just like it happens with startups, too, right? Nothing’s real until the money’s in the bank. But we started investing after we did our first close. And we have now invested in 24 companies. And what’s really amazing is just in the time that we’ve been fundraising for the fund while also investing, many of our portfolio companies have already gone from pre-seed to seed to series A to series B. And actually, some of the founders got to take money off the table at like a series A in series B, and then ended up investing in our fund because we still were fundraising for our fund. So that’s been kind of funny to see just how quickly fundraising moves sort of on the founder side versus for a venture fund because you really don’t have a product or some technology that you’re trying to sell. So people get a lot less excited, and it seems way more risky, because they’re basically saying hey, like, 25 and 27 year old, why should we trust you with our hard earned money to basically be like, right, a financial fiduciary for their money in an investment manager? Verses, right, somebody who’s very visionary and building, you know, the next big technology.

Jay Clouse 12:14
What time frame are we talking about here? When did you guys start raising? And when did you close?

Elizabeth Galbut 12:18
Yeah, so we had our first close in January of 2017, and we just finished fundraising.

Eric Hornung 12:24
That’s crazy. Where are some of these other bias gaps that pop up? We talked about female sexual health, but what else is kind of out there as, like, obviously, this is a need, but no one’s thinking about it because they have a bias?

Elizabeth Galbut 12:36
Yeah, so I know we wanted to talk a lot about health and health tech today. And when you think about sort of health, especially with females, there’s so many areas of opportunities and areas of bias. So just traditionally in history, like, most pharmaceutical drugs have only been tested on men. So when you think about dosages for pharmaceutical drugs, these are all done on test to get, you know, FDA approved approval on men, and there’s not a ton of research on, like, is this appropriate dosage for women? Do women’s bodies react differently to medication than male bodies? And this also happens across different, you know, racial profiles. So like, do Asians respond differently to drug than a Caucasian? Because traditionally, everything was done on white men. And part of that was because they didn’t want to put women who could potentially be pregnant, right, in a clinical drug trial. But right, this has gone on for decades. And so now we have all these drugs and pharmaceutical things that are being administered to everyone, but have only really been tested on a certain category of individuals. So that’s one major opportunity. There’s so much going into, like, AI drug development. So I am an investor in a company called Insilico Medicine that looks a lot at aging and different compounds and sort of using AI to speed up the drug development process. And including women and minorities in that conversation is huge, because I personally, and for the greater good of society, really want, right, that medicines be working for people versus against them just because, right, we haven’t done the work on the ground. So that’s one big area for opportunity. The other is, when you sort of look, research has shown that like women’s concerns aren’t taken seriously by doctors. So oftentimes, women will go into doctors, multiple specialists, maybe even the same type of specialist but multiple different ones, because they’re not sort of getting the attention they need. Very common, the story is you’ll go in with all these complaints and they’ll be like, you’re just getting older, you know, maybe exercise a little bit more, and, you know, eat a little bit better. But some of these women are in serious pain or have serious chronic conditions. But research has shown that they’re actually not taken seriously in health care. So there’s a trend on sort of how do you then empower not just women but everyone to, right, be a consumer of their own health care so that if they are having those really frustrating experiences where they know there’s something going on in their body but nobody’s helping them that they can actually get the answers they need. So we’re an investor in a company called Everlywell. It’s based in Austin, Texas. It’s an absolutely incredible company. In their second year, they did $50 million of revenue. They’ve partnered with major insurance companies like Humana, they’re in all Targets, all CVSs. And it’s absolutely incredible because it provides price transparency. So especially millennials and Generation Z, like health insurance is really confusing, right? You’re at your first job, you don’t want to miss work, you already miss work to go to the doctor, and then you’re like, well I have a $5,000 deductible, like how much is this going to cost just to get these tests that I need? And so often millennials or Generation Z will get the order for the test, but they actually will never go to the lab and get that both for time and money perspective because there’s no transparency, right? You get your lab bill in the mail and you’re like, Oh my gosh, $2,432? What? Like I can’t pay for this, right? And then we’re all worried about medical debt and how that’s going to affect our credit. And if we want to, like buy a house or even get a credit card, right, there’s all these implications. So it creates this fear of like, I can’t even go get the lab test I need, right, and that’s terrible. So I Everywell creates really affordable transparent pricing, where you ordered online, it comes to your home, you do it, you send it back, you get your results in this beautiful online platform. If you need to talk to a doctor virtually, you can. And then you can actually take those results into a doctor and say, like, you know, like, I had a hard time convincing you to get my thyroid checked out. You didn’t think it was that, but I actually did it, and my thyroid hormones are off. And I think we need to, you know, look into this further and do some more tests and perhaps get me on a treatment plan. And so when you look at the testimonials of this company, it’s absolutely incredible because it’s actually empowered people who are so frustrated by the health care system and perhaps even spent thousands or 10s of thousands of dollars to try and figure out what’s going on to actually get healthy. And preventative health, right, is what saves the healthcare system a lot of money, because as people get sicker and sicker, they’re either hospitalized, right, for long periods of time. Like if you’re a diabetic and didn’t know it, right, you can have really bad internal organ damage, or even it can lead to diabetic amputations of your legs or feet. And these are huge healthcare expenses. And women and minorities are generally the people that aren’t taken seriously, and therefore also burdened with these costs.

Jay Clouse 17:29
Are you finding that sourcing has been easier or harder than you expected, given that your thesis is like overlooked ideas? Or is it easy for you guys to find some of these overlooked?

Elizabeth Galbut 17:39
Yeah, so it’s incredibly easy. So that’s the part that we’ve been most amazed by. And, you know, it’s really wonderful. We’ve been lucky to have a lot of sort of press coverage around what we do. And so we see about 8,000 deals a year at this point, and it’s only increasing. Through our foundation. We have a global pitch competition that we did in 25 cities across five continents, and we got almost 2,000 applications just for that. And the requirements are pretty, like, narrow. It’s, right, like have a female or minority founder; haven’t raised $3 million, right, pre-seed amount; is a technology, scalable, venture, bakable business; and, you know, fits sort of, we don’t say we’re impact investors, but every investment we make, we really do believe has like a really systemic impact on whatever area it’s looking at. So generally, these companies are making huge impacts, whether it’s, you know, a company that’s helping identify bedsores of the elderly earlier on so that they don’t result in huge infections and sometimes death and very costly treatment to for example, like redesigning a bra, so that it doesn’t hurt women. Like all different types of things, and we had almost 2000 applications just in about 60 days for that. So deal sourcing is definitely not the problem whatsoever. We’re just seeing a tremendous amount of deals typically other like very established, well branded venture firms may see 1,000 or 2,000 deals a year. So deal flow is, you know, something we have a strategic advantage of based on the network we’ve built and sort of the brand we’ve built over time.

Eric Hornung 19:17
How often are you saying, okay, we know bra designs a problem. Here’s a bunch of bra design companies that we’ve found through our 8,000 deals that we reviewed, versus we had no idea bra design was a problem, but we talked to this company because of these filters, and now we have this problem that we found that is a real thing.

Elizabeth Galbut 19:39
Yeah, a little bit of both, but I would say sort of edges more on we know what a lot of the problems are because, right, we’re millennial women ourselves that you know, are global citizens and are constantly sort of exploring different ecosystems and understanding the needs. We reach about 100,000 Individuals through our SoGal foundation global communities. So that’s just an amazing sort of feedback loop of what are these different problems that different people are experiencing? So my business partner, Pocket, and I, like, yes, we have to feel that we identify with the problem. But like, we’re only two people. Like, it’s really important, right, that there’s way more people that identify with this problem, as well. So we really try to look at that as, right, a lens, which we look through as well. And then there’s, of course, just like some areas of interest where we personally, almost like an entrepreneur, like go around the world and we’re like, this is a big problem, let’s go out and find the hundred companies that are on the bleeding edge of doing something about it. So like, right now, the death space is something that I’m incredibly interested in and, you know, very far along and diligence and sort of the deal process with a few different companies in the space. Because when you think about it, right, like funeral homes, if you’ve gone to a funeral recently, I think as a millennial and Generation Z, you’re like this is exactly what I do not want….

Jay Clouse 21:00
Yeah.

Elizabeth Galbut 21:00
…Right, if something would, knock on wood, right? We don’t want anything to happen to anyone. But if something did, you’re like, this is not the environment I want my last send off…

Jay Clouse 21:09
Totally.

Elizabeth Galbut 21:09
…to be right. And things like burial are incredibly expensive. And so there’s really interesting trends, like cremations actually been increasing at an amazingly, like, fast rate. So now, about 50% of Americans are being cremated, which is almost double what it was in the past. And creation’s much cheaper, it’s about a fourth of the price of burial with a casket. And so funeral homes really are sort of looking at like, wow, we just, you know, our revenues being chopped in half to a quarter, and also we have a product and real estate that, you know, the next generations aren’t very excited about.

Jay Clouse 21:45
Totally, I mean…

Elizabeth Galbut 21:46
So, like, what does that look like in the future and there’s some interesting things happening. I think there’s still so much more space and just looking at sort of everything that has to happen from the time whether it’s somebody gets sick or somebody you know, does if they suddenly die, for example, in a tragic accident, like, think of how many passwords you have for thousands of things? And like, Is there somebody who’s your friend or family that you really want, you know, going through all that? Where does privacy start and privacy end? What actually has to get done in those situations? Who’s doing that? Who is the burden of that? How does the grieving process happen for those individuals? And how do you make it easier for them? So you know, they’re not having traumatic experiences for years by, you know, having to process your death and do all the after sort of task about it to close everything off. And just like as an individual too, like, what do you want, right? We don’t talk about it. Like death culture in the US, like, you guys listening can’t see the looks that I’m getting right now from Jay and Eric, but like, everyone’s shocked. It’s like, Oh, my gosh, she’s talking about death. This is not something we talk about all the time, right. That’s a problem.

Jay Clouse 22:57
Yeah.

Elizabeth Galbut 22:57
Because like, eventually, we’re going to have you their grandparents or parents that are going to pass away, we have to think about, you know, ourselves, and like we’re going to be those decision makers and the people who have the responsibility to do this. And the industry just is nowhere near where it needs to be to sort of be beneficial to the millennial or Gen Z consumer.

Jay Clouse 23:19
I’ve been looking for a long time to talk about death, for one, but also like pre-death, meaning aging, you know, like….

Elizabeth Galbut 23:27
Yeah.

Jay Clouse 23:27
How much have you looked at aging technology or anti-aging technology?

Elizabeth Galbut 23:31
Yeah, so I love aging and aging technology.

Eric Hornung 23:34
Oh my God, this is gonna be like…

Elizabeth Galbut 23:37
Area that’s really interesting to me. I think, you know, there’s a lot of pharmaceuticals that are already on the market that could be repurposed. I think there’s a lot of really interesting things in the pipeline. But I think we haven’t even really had conversations in society of like, Okay, if we bring some of these technologies to the general public use, like what happened.

Jay Clouse 23:57
Why was the population, you know?

Elizabeth Galbut 23:58
Right, because things, like, right, Social Security go bust really fast when we start adding 10, 20, 30 years on to individuals lives. And it’s not so much just about adding years, but it’s also about, like, quality of life. Right? Like, can you be living at 90 years old feeling like a 60 year old verses living to 110 and feeling like 110 year old, right? So it’s really thinking about how do you have a longer lifespan of high quality where you’re walking and self sufficient and your memories there? I think, particularly memory and sort of mind capacity is something that we all don’t want to think about, right? But it affects an enormous amount of people as they age, and it creates a huge burden on families and friends, and just, like, a feeling of hopelessness and being lost for the individual themselves. So I think there’s a lot of interesting things kind of happening there. But I think we also need to all start having conversations about this because, I have a friend, for example, her mom in her 50s has early onset Alzheimers and is already in a memory care facility. And that was really a shock to her whole family. And I think these are things that were just so uncomfortable talking about that when they happen, we don’t even know the preferences of other individuals. And that creates such a burden, right, for like you to have to figure out what to do then. And the emotional toll on that is so big. So like, for example, there’s some companies that sort of try and help facilitate conversations around this so that, you know, families, friends, romantic partners can sort of have a baseline understanding. I mean, it’s not something that’s fun to talk about. It’s really scary, but also about just like aging, like, Okay, if we’re going to get married and, like, what would we do if one of us, like, can’t remember each other, right? And like, what are we going to do in the meantime, what technologies can we use to make sure that doesn’t happen or there’s a less percentage probability of that happening? So I think a lot of these conversations are, like, there’s little pockets of them starting to happening in this sort of death and aging communities. But it hasn’t become really widespread because it’s just so emotionally charged.

Eric Hornung 23:59
How do you, how do you fund something that people don’t want to do?

Elizabeth Galbut 26:16
Yes, that’s an interesting question. You have to make it, right, like a better product and experience. And there’s this one company that I absolutely love. We’re not an investor in it yet, at least it’s called Eterneva, and they create diamonds out of hair and ashes of a loved one. So you would actually, whether you’re burying them, you can take hair, or if you’re cremating them, you can take the ashes. And they have this amazing process where they sort of walk somebody through, it takes you know, about six to nine months to create one of these diamonds. And then typically the individuals set it in like a beautiful setting. But it actually has completely changed how individuals deal with grief. It comes from something very sad, just something about celebrating life. So there’s examples where, you know, a husband passed away from cancer and him and his wife were motorcycle enthusiasts. And he actually found this before he passed away, and said, You know, I think this is something that might be good for you to do. And I’d like you to do this for me. And then I want you, like, here’s the list of all the places I want you to go on the motorcycle while wearing the necklace of me so that I’m with you. And that, you know, we get to go on the adventures we had planned to go on together, but it’s just in a different form.

Jay Clouse 27:34
I love that because….

Eric Hornung 27:35
Yeah, I almost cried.

Jay Clouse 27:36
There’s, there’s such a different feeling of, like, you know, at a traditional funeral, it’s like, okay, we’re saying goodbye, it’s going, you’re going into the ground, and then we’re walking away. And even like cremation, you have this urn, but if you hold the urn, even that’s kind of like a strange artifact to have, whereas of the actual form factor of the remaining is something beautiful, that like is something that you’re proud to wear that is part of your, you know, like personal uniform every day.

Elizabeth Galbut 28:02
Yeah. And I think to like one of the biggest trends raise millennials and Generation Z, we’re not staying anywhere that long. Like we’re moving from city to city. And like, we also have very different family ties than the past, so like the idea of having a family mausoleum or sort of, you know, burial plot where all 50 family members are. Like, that’s just not realistic anymore, right? And with sort of how families have evolved as well, right, divorced, you know, domestic partners, all different things sort of go into that. And then it’s also, like, who can even visit you depending on the physical location that you choose? Like, is that an additional burden and sort of guilt that comes on because then it’s like, I only visited them once in the past three years because it took me to go to a trip overseas to do this, and I don’t have the resources to do it. That makes somebody feel worse rather than better.

Jay Clouse 28:54
It’s bizarre to have almost, almost, like, the hubris to say I need to take up space when I’m no longer here. You know, we were just talking about some of the difficult questions need to happen if we’re talking about reversing aging.

Elizabeth Galbut 29:07
Right.

Jay Clouse 29:07
If the population of the planet grows, which it’s going to do regardless, and we’re taking up all this green space…

Elizabeth Galbut 29:13
Yeah…

Jay Clouse 29:13
…with just caskets, it’s just bizarre to me. It’s just, it’s…

Eric Hornung 29:17
Yeah, and it’s actually really not environmentally friendly at all.

Jay Clouse 29:19
No.

Elizabeth Galbut 29:20
So there are some interesting companies out there. For example, you can get cremated, and then your ashes can help create a coral reef underwater and sort of repopulate coral reefs that have been destroyed by different, you know, environmental predators that our human nature has created. There’s like a whole really cool, like, tree area where you can scatter your ashes among a tree that is yours. There’s some really interesting eco-friendly ways of burials as well that are emerging, but I would say, right, most people don’t even know these exists or how they go about them. Or, right, like if something happened to you, nobody would even know that you’d want that because you haven’t expressed that to anyone yet because we’re not having these conversations.

Jay Clouse 30:04
You talked about eco-friendly. I’m curious if you have thought about or explored the edges of where healthtech and almost like green sustainability-tech comes in. You know, like, you mentioned, the damage that we’re doing to the planet as a species. You know, whether you believe in a total climate crisis or not, the damage that we’re doing to the planet is going to have some effect on our ability to continue to live here. So like, is there a healthtech play that meets this kind of green?

Elizabeth Galbut 30:30
Yes. So I think about this every single day. And this is such a huge problem that we should all be on red alarm about, but we’re not. So there’s various research studies, for example, when you look in the developing world, you would assume that sort of their increase of cancer rates would sort of happen the same way it did in places like America. But when you actually look, as soon as they get like actual mattress beds, they spike up to where sort of american cancer rates are right now, which is sort of telling me, once you have you know, fabrics that are covered in flame retardant, then cancer spikes.

Jay Clouse 31:05
Wow.

Elizabeth Galbut 31:05
So there’s things we don’t even think about, right? Like your mattress, right? You’re spending eight hours a day plus, on that, you’re putting your face down, right, in it, you’re breathing those fumes. And when we have all these autoimmune diseases that people can’t really…Like multiple sclerosis, nobody can explain why people get multiple sclerosis other than your immune system is overreacting. And then when you think about microplastics, like we’re eating about a credit card worth of plastic every day. And plastic is incredibly endocrine disrupting. So you’re seeing now, like, just women, there’s something called polycystic ovary syndrome, which is where typically you have a bit more testosterone than normal, and cysts form in your ovaries, and this can lead to things like high cholesterol, diabetes rates much higher as well as infertility. So it used to be about one in 100 women had this, then it went to about one in 10. And they’re saying now it’s commonly like not diagnosed, like it’s not diagnosed as much as it should be of the actual occurrence, but it may be about one in four.

Jay Clouse 32:07
Wow.

Elizabeth Galbut 32:07
And this is like an incredibly hormone driven, sort of endocrine and gynecological issue. Something like that is not just, you know, creating infertility, but it’s also creating, then, higher risk of heart issues as well as diabetes, when you just think about like, the downstream impact of how that’s going to have on our health care system, it’s huge. And I think I pray to whatever anyone believes in, right, that we figure out some solutions of like what do we do about this micro-plastic and plastic pollution situation because these micro-plastics are being consumed by every single organism in the sea, and that goes up the entire food chain. I don’t know if it’s too late or not. But I would encourage like, I’d love to see entrepreneurs in this space that are tackling this and unique ways, I think, right, as individual, we can take actions that help, but there really is going to have to be something where it’s this scientific maybe, you know, there’s some thing that helps dissolve these micro-plastics like, plastics don’t go away. And even when we think plastics are being recycled, they’re not. Like in many municipalities, like less than 10% of plastics that actually arrived there ever getting recycled. And then, I don’t know how many of you know about like, sort of China’s no longer accepting our recycling, and we have not built this infrastructure over the past 20 years that’s necessary for plastics recycling. So we’re basically, right, shipping it now to other developing countries, whether it’s Malaysia, Indonesia. And who are we, right, as Americans to say, let’s go and pollute other countries, right, because of our own consumption and give them health problems in places like Malaysia, Indonesia, where they’re now seeing the burning of plastics that be recycled. Cancer rates, upper respiratory disease, everything is just spiking. Childhood asthma, right. So like, this is a problem. We really got to fix it. Like when we look at the petroleum industry is who, really, is the producers of plastic, they think plastic productions just only going to increase exponentially over the next couple decades. Like we really need to figure out how to not make that happen and also clean up the mess that we’ve already created, because it’s so detrimental to health on so many levels.

Jay Clouse 34:31
I want you to either restore my faith in humanity or make it even worse. Do you find that there are entrepreneurs actually working to solve these problems?

Elizabeth Galbut 34:39
Yes.

Jay Clouse 34:40
That’s good.

Elizabeth Galbut 34:41
But I’d like more VCs to be courageous to actually fund this.

Jay Clouse 34:44
That’s what I was gonna ask.

Elizabeth Galbut 34:44
Because it’s highly technical. A lot of these are biotech, new material. Perhaps some of them are actually like machinery, manufacturing, processing, like these are things that take extensive amounts of capital and are highly risky. But if we’re not taking money, risks, like we’re not going to fix this.

Jay Clouse 35:02
So do you think that venture capitalists should be more courageous in doing this because there is the financial return at the end of the tunnel? Or are you just saying we need somehow to find a way that people can deploy capital to solve this problem?

Elizabeth Galbut 35:15
Yeah. So that’s kind of like the double edged sword right now, right. Oil prices are kind of going a little bit all over the place. And the price of producing new plastic is highly dependent on the price of oil. And so at times, when oil is a certain price, new plastic production becomes cheaper than recycling. So, right, when that occurs, unless we’re doing some sort of, right, governmental mandate of like, we are not creating new plastics, like new plastics will always be created, right, because it’s profit, it’s capitalism. Like that’s going to happen whether we like it or not, like so there really is a policy aspect to this as well. And it’s really like a macro-environmental problem too. Like, how do we say Okay, well, maybe recycling plastic cost five cents more per item. But like, it’s so important that we do this that we’re going to find that five cents somewhere.

Jay Clouse 36:11
Or should we go to Mars?

Elizabeth Galbut 36:13
That’s another option. But I think we shouldn’t, we shouldn’t count on it, right? That’s like, really high risk.

Jay Clouse 36:18
Totally. I mean, I said that kind of jokingly because like, I just think that’s such a bizarre solution to this. But…

Eric Hornung 36:24
If you want to talk about.

Elizabeth Galbut 36:25
Or send our trash to Mars, right? Like…

Eric Hornung 36:27
Send our trash to Mars is probably betterec, bause you guys know about bias and selectivity, the people who get to go to Mars versus the ones who don’t…

Elizabeth Galbut 36:34
Yeah.

Eric Hornung 36:34
…is gonna be a quite the debate. Are there any problems that Gen Z is facing that the other generations, especially as you get older up the scale, like, aren’t from a health perspective?

Elizabeth Galbut 36:46
Yeah. So I think when you really look at sort of mental health, this is a really interesting area. So we just made an investment in a stealth company that will be opening in April in New York City around mental health and wellness. But when you look at both millennials and Generation Z, there’s higher prevalence of mental health issues than ever before. And you know, there’s multiple things affecting that. One, just being people are more comfortable to talk about these things, which is amazing. And people are more comfortable getting the help they need, which is also amazing. But sort of the old system of mental health really isn’t conducive to how millennials and Gen Z operate, as well as like what millennials and Gen Z can afford, like a $300 therapy session is inaccessible for the majority, right, of millennial and Gen Z users. So then, as it were, you know, only giving Mental Health Access to either the most wealthy or the most vulnerable through social services and leaving this huge gap sort of in the middle, and not using technology sort of, in ways that can make it more accessible but also more relevant. And I think there’s a lot of issues that compound into this. Like it even goes into like education and, you know student loan debt, like the anxiety and stress that individuals have from sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars of student loan debt. That can take decades of your adulthood to either pay off or not pay off and be late on your payments and just the amount of sort of mental trauma that’s happening from that, I think a lot of people are starting to look at education with, like, a serious, you know, glance and be like, is it worth this, right? Is it worth my time? Is it worth the hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt I may accumulate that will impact me till I’m 50 years old? And like how is that going to affect me as a person because when you look at sort of financial well-being, that actually goes to health well being as well as then your access to health care later on. So like, you also see a lot of people millennials and Gen Z who, even when they have a problem, won’t go to a doctor or like won’t go to the emergency room because they’re afraid of how much it’s going to cost. And like, you know, they’re like, I’m already behind my credit cards, my student loans, I can’t afford my high deductible plan that’s a $15,000 deductible, getting a $15,000 bill, because I broke my wrist.

Eric Hornung 39:17
How susceptible are your investments to changing political trends with health care policies?

Elizabeth Galbut 39:24
Yeah, so this is something I think about a lot. And it was something I thought about even more when sort of the Affordable Health Care Act first came out, and Trump was really, you know, going at it, as well. So in health tech, in particular, there’s a couple things that are really important: that it’s, like, reimbursable by someone, and that its revenue generating for the person who’s sort of in the middle of this, whether it’s the doctor or the hospital, right, like a software for a hospital. Like it has to increase productivity or lower cost or create more revenue or be reimbursable, right? And if it’s doesn’t do those things, even if it’s the most wonderful technology that saves lives, it doesn’t matter. Every health tech startup that doesn’t do that will fail. And that’s just because of the way our American healthcare system works right now. So the best companies I’ve seen in this space really understand on a very intricate level, like, how do health insurance providers interact with either doctors or hospital systems? And how does that interact with them the end consumer? And who pays for what, who has the ability to pay for what, right? Like, does the doctor want to spend $3,000 on a piece of software that’s not going to generate them any revenue? Probably not. Right? So really looking at how these things work within current reimbursable and revenue streams is really important. I tend to stay away from things that are just like really policy plays. Like there’s a lot of health tech that’s like, Okay, this policy is going into place we can take advantage of it. We’re going to be you know, the provider for this. I think that’s a risky bet. I prefer to focus on things that are like very large health problems, that there’s lots of people that are incentivized to pay for this on various sort of layers, so that let’s say regulation does change that, you know, you can shift your business model accordingly.

Jay Clouse 41:16
We talked about a lot of heavy stuff here. I’d love to end on just some of your most optimistic outlooks on certain problems or technologies that you you spend some time thinking about.

Elizabeth Galbut 41:27
Yeah, so I’m really optimistic that as we get better at being inclusive in ecosystems, whether it’s, right, geography, like your podcast focuses on gender, race, socio-economic status, we actually, right, are starting to include, right, the rest of the economy. And so for me, I’ve always found it very silly that, like, we talked about, right, GDP growth, like 3-4%, but we’re still excluding huge percentages of our population and having, right, like fair and equal opportunities in either the workforce or technology space. Soo I’m really excited that as these become more equal, like, there’s actually huge economic opportunity as well as individual opportunity for us to thrive, for us to solve problems,but also just to become like more prosperous as an economy and society.

Jay Clouse 42:18
That’s awesome. Well, if people want to learn more about you or the work you do at SoGal ventures after the show, where should they go?

Elizabeth Galbut 42:23
Yes, SoGal ventures com. We also have Twitter @SoGalVentures. We have tons of Facebook groups for our SoGal Chapters across 50 cities. If you’re interested in learning, if there’s a SoGal Chapter in your city go to ImSoGal.com. If there’s not, you can actually apply, and we have lots of financial resources to create a SoGal ecosystem within your city so you can build your own network of amazing individuals on both the entrepreneur and investor side that will help you achieve your goals and help your community grow.

Jay Clouse 42:55
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Eric Hornung 43:34
All right, Jay, we just spoke with Elizabeth from SoGal. Holy smokes, we are dumb.

Jay Clouse 43:41
Yeah. Elizabeth is very, very smart. That was a very fun conversation. She came in and before we even got on the mics, you could tell just from the question she was asking us, she was trying to hyper direct where we spend our time talking, and it’s clear that she did that because she has so much you can talk about at a level of depth, and I could have done 30 more minutes, 60 more minutes, several hours more of conversation on this one.

Eric Hornung 44:06
Earlier this week, you told the Trailblazers group that my knowledge base was extremely broad and only a little bit more, a little bit deeper than a puddle.

Jay Clouse 44:15
That’s not what I said.

Eric Hornung 44:16
Yeah, but it’s what you meant.

Jay Clouse 44:17
No, it’s not. I said that Eric is one of those guys who knows….How did I describe it?

Eric Hornung 44:26
What you actually said was, he knows just a little bit more than you do about every topic.

Jay Clouse 44:31
Yes, that’s it.

Eric Hornung 44:32
But not too much more.

Jay Clouse 44:33
Which is a compliment, actually.

Eric Hornung 44:35
I think that’s the definition of, like, a know-it-all.

Jay Clouse 44:38
It’s a no it’s a know-it-more-than-you.

Eric Hornung 44:42
Regardless, if that’s, if a puddle is my analogy, Elizabeth was the Pacific Ocean, because she could, I felt like she could keep on going on any of those topics.

Jay Clouse 44:51
Totally. And you and I have been trying to get into the space–and by you and I, mean I–I’ve been trying to get into the space of aging and reverse aging and death. And that came up unprompted. I got real excited, reeled it back a little bit, didn’t wanna spend too much time on there. But what I really liked about this was everything we talked about, all those subject areas, all the areas that she’s putting her time and investment dollars into matter. You know what I mean? There, there are some, some venture firms who are purely out to return the fund for their LPs, which makes sense, it’s in their charter. But you see some of these investments and some of these companies that are doing well, and so many of them don’t have true impact on…true positive impact on quality of life or wellness or impacting communities in such a positive way. And the way that Elizabeth put it, you know, she wanted to see more venture capitalists be more courageous in the things that they are backing. I love that as an ethos. And I understand why some LPs may not want to back that because they’re just looking to get exceptional returns on their money. But, man, it’s, it’s reaffirming and optimistic for me to see people like Elizabeth in the world trying to do both.

Eric Hornung 46:05
Yeah, I think that this is something I see kind of discussed on online forums a lot is VC supposed to be swinging for the fences. That’s the ethos of the investment class. And as we’ve gotten more and more people into VC, it feels like there’s more and more people who are just investing in the next app, the next productivity hack, the next thing that’s going to make some money and has a good playbook for making that work, but maybe isn’t the thing that is going to be impacting a billion people.

Jay Clouse 46:38
And yet, the actual results that Elizabeth was sharing with us for her portfolio compared to industry portfolio averages are way ahead of the curve. And yet, she had a hard time closing this original fund. And yet, she’s getting 8,000 deals a year that she’s seeing. You know, I hear things like this, and it just doesn’t make sense. It’s unfortunate. I don’t know if it’s the system that we’ve built. But I’m excited for her team to grow and expand because it’s clear that, you know, some of these founders who are facing their own struggles of getting people to buy in and believe in what they’re doing, come to Elizabeth, she sees it, and they very quickly have success to the point where, like she said, some of her investments have raised additional rounds while she was raising the fund, took some money off the table, and invested in her fund themselves. Like what more of a positive indication could that be for a fund if, if you you know, you’re looking for somebody to back?

Eric Hornung 47:34
Well, this was a fun one, Jay, and I look forward to staying in touch with Elizabeth, watching SoGal grow, and just seeing the impact that they have on the venture capital space. So listeners, if you are interested in healthtech, aging, deathtec…death tech, wow, that’s a…

Jay Clouse 47:54
Deathtech is heavy.

Eric Hornung 47:55
Yeah, that’s like that’s like the name of a club in Berlin. Send us a tweet @upsideFM or reach out to us at hello@upside.fm, and we will talk to you next week. Deathtech.

Interview starts: 6:10
Debrief starts: 43:34

Elizabeth Galbut is the Founding and Managing Partner of SoGal Ventures.

SoGal Ventures is the first female-led millennial venture firm, and they are leading the way in investing in diverse founding teams and products across the USA and Asia. Their focus includes companies working on female sexual health and wellness, aging, and death-related decisions.

A Forbes 30 Under 30, Elizabeth is incredibly knowledgeable and experienced in the fields in which she invests. In today’s episode, she walks us through some of the issues she and SoGal Ventures are tackling through their diverse outlook.

We discuss:

  • AD: Finding experienced employees for your new business with Integrity Power Search (4:45)
  • Sextech and underrepresented groups in venture capital (7:08)
  • Raising a fund as two millennial women (10:36)
  • Gaps in venture capital due to bias (12:24)
  • Finding the underrepresented in VC (17:29)
  • Death-tech and anti-aging technology (20:40)
  • Sustainability and healthtech intersections (30:04)
  • Who is solving and who should solve these problems? (34:31)
  • Mental health and healthtech (36:36)
  • Investing in health with potential future health policy changes (39:17)
  • Optimistic perspective (41:16)

Learn more about SoGal Ventures: http://www.sogalventures.com/
Follow Elizabeth on Twitter: https://twitter.com/design4innov8
Follow upside on Twitter: https://twitter.com/upsidefm
Advertise with an upside classified: https://upside.fm/classifieds

This episode is sponsored by Integrity Power Search, the #1 full stack high growth startup recruiting firm between the coasts. They partner with venture capitalists, private equity groups and CEOs to build amazing teams for the world’s most disrupting companies.

Learn more about or get in touch with Integrity Power Search: https://upside.fm/integrity