For Divya Gugnani, constructing her personal empire was by no means going to be sufficient. After leaving a profession in funding banking and personal fairness to take a leap of religion to the opposite facet, she constructed a well-liked on-line style vacation spot and offered it to QVC in 2012 then cofounded cult favourite Wander Magnificence in 2014 and has served as CEO ever since. However all of this was only a warm-up for what would quickly change into Gugnani’s true ardour: serving to different feminine founders of coloration forge their very own success.
“Again within the early days of my profession at Goldman Sachs, there was just one girl with a senior function in my group. She had fought so onerous to get that seat on the desk and guarded it together with her life,” the wonder entrepreneur and investor recollects. “Seeing that, I felt strongly that as I grew in my profession, it was vital to create extra seats on the desk and leverage my community to drag extra girls into alternatives.” With girls receiving solely 2.3 % of the full enterprise capital cash invested every year and girls of coloration getting lower than 0.65 %, Gugnani has seen first-hand the various challenges that face feminine founders and has lengthy acknowledged the necessity for change. “There are already so many obstacles for ladies and particularly girls of coloration so it’s crucial that individuals who have raised cash or have constructed, scaled, and offered companies take the time and vitality to mentor and assist others to have the identical success of their careers,” she provides.
And among the best methods to try this, Gugnani believes, is to construct a powerful community. “I’m always constructing a community of individuals that might point out one another in a room of alternatives,” she says. “I had seen so lots of my male colleagues advocating for one another, and I grew to become an enormous proponent of doing this amongst girls, particularly girls of coloration.” Whereas market competitors has traditionally pit these founders towards each other, the Wander Magnificence CEO thinks offering assist and steerage to newcomers is essential. “There are already so many obstacles for ladies and particularly girls of coloration,” Gugnani notes. “So, it’s crucial that individuals who have raised cash or have constructed, scaled, and offered companies take the time and vitality to mentor and assist others to have the identical success of their careers.”
All through the final 21 years, Gugnani has invested in over 70 firms throughout a variety of industries, both personally or by her funding fund Idea to Co, and he or she even closed a formidable six offers final yr regardless of the apparent hurdles introduced on by the pandemic. “Within the early years of Wander Magnificence, I used to be an advisor for just one model at a time,” she explains. “However as I scaled and constructed out our administration workforce, I’ve had the chance to tackle an advisor function in a couple of extra manufacturers.”
As of late, Gugnani is a passive investor in most, however she’s in a position to actively advise a a number of manufacturers at a time, together with Tower 28, a well-liked magnificence model based by Amy Liu in 2019. The 2 founders met shortly after Tower 28’s launch, at an intimate dinner in Los Angeles the place Liu, who had lengthy been an admirer of Gugnani and her work, launched herself and gladly accepted the Wander Magnificence CEO’s provide to take a name and provides her some recommendation. “Truthfully, I’ve at all times thought of Divya a mentor even earlier than I met her!” Liu says. “She is ahead going through as each an investor and a founder, and whether or not it is a podcast, her Instagram, or Clubhouse, I feel she is a tremendous thought chief and does a terrific job placing out information for everybody to hear.”
Over the past two-plus years, Gugnani has assisted the Tower 28 founder in myriad methods—be it sharing her community and connecting her with individuals who would assist her develop the enterprise, making a financial funding throughout the second spherical of fundraising, or just providing recommendation from her personal expertise within the house. “Illustration issues, and seeing girls of coloration like Divya in positions of energy and lending assist in actual methods (not solely being a voice for change however actually placing her cash the place her mouth is) is the way in which change occurs,” Liu provides. “I’m impressed by Divya and hope to do the identical in my very own small approach!”
Olamide Olowe, the founder and CEO of Topicals, one other quickly rising magnificence model that Gugnani has invested in and suggested, has had an identical expertise. “We began working collectively in June 2020, and he or she has been instrumental in Topical’s success,” Olowe says. “Divya held my hand by the method of launching at Sephora, from stock delays to negotiating phrases, and he or she’s at all times a textual content message away.” And past the sensible assist Gugnani has provided the Topicals founder, she’s been a real-life manifestation of the type of success that may be doable for feminine founders. “You may’t be what you may’t see,” Olowe explains. “For ladies of coloration who develop up feeling like outsiders, it’s inspiring to see somebody who appears to be like such as you succeed within the trade. It’s much more inspiring to know they need you to succeed similar to them.”
For Gugnani, investing in like-minded founders will at all times be an enormous a part of her work and her life, however greater than that, she hopes it ushers in a wave of change for ladies, and significantly girls of coloration, in enterprise. “We have to work collectively to create extra alternatives and construct the ecosystem of feminine entrepreneurship,” she says. “There are nonetheless so few seats for ladies and girls of coloration on the desk, so we now have to band collectively to assist one another. We’ve to share concepts and alternatives. We have to construct one another’s networks and assist one another clear up issues to develop our companies and our wealth.”