“I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”
-- Robert Frost “The Road Not Taken”
Elizabeth Grier has been inspired by these two lines, especially during the more challenging times in her life. "When I was starting up my business, I often felt alone, but I chose to listen to my gut and refuse to let any critics bring me down. This poem serves as my reminder that taking the road less traveled is worth it." She says.
Elizabeth views her whole career as being built towards her current role as the Managing Director of the first venture capital fund to come from the Cap Table Coalition community. Cap Table Coalition was launched in June of 2021, inspired by the Diversity Rider by Act One Ventures and Finix’s CEO, Richie Serna, who pledged to allocate 10% or more of all of the funding rounds to be reserved for Black and Latinx investors. The Cap Table Coalition, made up of traditionally underrepresented investors and operators, has grown from 80 to over 600 members today. In total, they have invested over $25 million in 35 hard-to-access and oversubscribed tech companies in less than a year. Elizabeth was drawn to Cap Table Coalition's mission. "We have a dual mission to produce superior risk-adjusted returns investing in early and growth stages and to diversify the VC ecosystem through the acceleration of more diverse GPs." Elizabeth says, "This is a very exciting endeavor and I am honored to be part of the team!"
Looking back, Elizabeth describes her career history as quite varied. After graduating from Georgetown University, she started as a paralegal focusing on securities fraud in New York, and quickly realized it was not for her. She managed to get a job at an investment bank, Credit Suisse, where she worked in derivative sales and European equities sales trading. From there, She decided to pursue her MBA at UNC-Chapel Hill in real estate and investment management — "an 'easier to value’ asset class versus equities or fixed income". Her time at Credit Suisse served her well when a former manager offered her an opportunity to co-found a fund of hedge funds in New York, Constellar Capital. This moved her onto a career path in alternative investments for the rest of her career spanning hedge funds and private equity style funds. After co-founding Constellar Capital, Elizabeth led marketing and Investor Relations at two different hedge funds and covered alternative investment managers at two different banks before changing gears again. Keeping up with her entrepreneurial streak, Elizabeth started two different organizations: First, a non-profit called Hands On London which she led full time for a few years; then a fintech called Hi55 Ventures. Now Elizabeth is launching Cap Table Coalition Management with a number of fantastic partners, and the team is raising capital for its first fund, CTC Fund I.
At Cap Table Coalition Management, the team is comprised entirely of women and people of color — all with distinguished careers in investing and operating businesses." Once I got to know the people behind the scenes, I was even more determined to take a leading role in its future progress." Elizabeth describes the culture there as very transparent, positive, and mission-driven." All of the team treat one another with respect and share the same intellectual curiosity yet they know when to let their guard down and have a laugh." She says.
Many of the startups who have partnered with the Cap Table Coalition to date have been fintechs. Elizabeth and her current teammates all have experience co-founding or investing in fintech companies, which makes them better and more sympathetic investors and advisors today. The team helps fintechs (and high-growth startups of all industries) diversify their company cap tables by connecting them with historically underrepresented investors who have strong investing or operating backgrounds. Beyond increasing representation on fintech cap tables, the coalition's community network also helps with hiring and partnerships.
Looking forward, Elizabeth is continually determined and inspired toward the team's mission, and she considers joining Cap Table Coalition the best job decision she ever made.
More on Elizabeth
Where you currently live: Mclean, Virginia
Family at home: husband and two children
Favorite hobbies: swimming, pilates, and yoga
Favorite part of your day: early morning
Can you tell us about a time someone encouraged you to try a task or take on a project you didn’t think that you would know how to do/or be good at?
Yes, this happened many times at the non-profit I founded from scratch. I started the non-profit because I saw a void that needed to be filled in London, however, I was not an expert in the non-profit sector. There were many things that I had to do that I was not sure of nor know how to do. For example, I did not know how to apply for grants nor how to become a registered charity with the Charities Commission. The great thing is that if you ask for help or surround yourself with experts, you will learn a ton and can accomplish anything.
What is the most important lesson you have learned from a mistake you’ve made in the past?
I have learned not to allow emotions to cloud decisions so you can see the writing on the wall more easily and make better decisions.
Do you have any productivity hacks? What keeps you motivated? How do you maintain a work/life balance?
I’m motivated by the mission of Cap Table Coalition. Working with positive, smart, and motivated people makes me excited to go to work every morning. I cannot say that I maintain the best work/life balance but I do ensure that personal and family time is maintained. It is imperative that all of us have time to unwind and/or spend with loved ones so we do not burn out. We must all remember that everyone is human and has a life outside of work too. I lived many years in Europe and they understand this better than many Americans.