At 10 a.m. on January 5th, Clara Vydyanath pushed the button on a LinkedIn post that she knew would either start or quickly end the next chapter of her life.
She asked whether thirty women would join her in creating an investment club. The group would provide access to alternative assets, such as hedge funds, venture capital and private equity.
The name of the club was 32 cents, which referred to the gender wealth gap: women control 32 cents of assets for every $1 controlled by men.
a) Women invest fundamentally differently than men
b) Women are under-invested in alternative assets
c) Community + education + access is the key to get them to “level up”
Within a few weeks she had secured her founding members, incorporated the company, created a web site, set up an investment committee, landed a strategic advisor and secured potential deal flow for the next six months.
It helped, of course, that she had 15 years of financial experience, having worked at JP Morgan, Credit Suisse, Forge Global and Equi. She’s a CFA Charterholder, a CPA and has an MBA from the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business.
Members pay $1,000 a year to join and are expected to invest $10,000 a year which is pooled and invested as a fund of funds into hedge funds, private equity, real estate and venture capital. The group doesn’t invest in public or individual companies.
Clubs have become a thing lately. There is the ubiquitous Soho Club chain for young aspirational (and non-financial creatives) and Chief, a club for women executives to network. Sam Parr just created Hampton for tech founders.
Clara wanted to combine a social element with an opportunity to access investment opportunities that are generally limited to high-net worth individuals.
I’m fascinated by how Clara and others are using social media to turn around the old adage “if you build it they will come.” Instead, they send out the invitation: “If you come, I will build it!”
It’s shows a tremendous confidence, knowing you have to sprint hard when you get the answer.
It’s also not something any established company would do.
Clara, who is normally based in San Francisco, is hosting a happy hour on April 19th in New York City in conjunction with EquityZen to talk about her plan to increase women’s participation in alternative investments.
You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org to secure a spot.
I met Clara at an investment conference hosted by Howard Lindzon in Scottsdale.