GingerBread Capital’s Summer 2020 Newsletter

The GingerBreadCap team rocking Ezza Nails‘ tagline in the comfiest sweatshirts ever! Our fave nail salon in Chicago had just opened two more locations when the coronavirus pandemic hit, forcing co-founders Ale Breuer and Kim Marsh to temporarily close all three. They quickly pivoted to offer select at-home nail care products and branded gear on their website, and a crowdfunding campaign #SupportOurSquad to help out their nail techs during the shutdown. Their “tough as nails” spirit continues to inspire us every day.

Dear Friends,

What the coronavirus pandemic has shown the world, is just how interconnected we all are.

From food to transportation, how we work, raise our families, what we do in our spare time–every aspect of our lives. And no more so than our health, and the health of our planet, which are inextricably tied to issues of equity and justice.


“COVID-19 has revealed an essential truth: that clean air is fundamental to a healthy and prosperous future for us all.”


Davida Herzl, CEO of San Francisco-based Aclima, one of the innovative companies in the GBC portfolio, made that simple observation in a keynote speech she delivered (virtually) at a recent tech conference. Aclima provides hyperlocal air quality data to government, business and climate scientists. In her keynote, Davida addressed the economic and health inequities caused by air pollution in communities of color–inequities that make the coronavirus so much deadlier, especially for Black, Hispanic/Latino and Indigenous people, as health statistics clearly show.



Davida Herzl of Aclima: “The connections between air pollution, public health, and environmental justice are clear,” she notes. To better understand why, we recommend you spend 10 minutes watching Davida’s address. Watch the video.

There is a clear connection, studies also show, between a lack of investment in communities of color and poorer health outcomes. We believe more investment in Black and Latinx founders is essential to building healthier communities, closing the wealth gap and helping to end the systemic racism that plagues our society. The coronavirus crisis and recent protests across the country against racial injustice have only deepened our commitment to be part of the solution.

COVID-19 has also shown us the true grit, resilience and courage it takes to keep a business going, in good times and bad. It’s especially true if you’re a female founder of color, as a new report from All Raise shows (check out their infographic on Medium — and speaking of All Raise, we’re proud to announce that Ita has joined the All Raise-New York chapter’s steering committee).

What keeps us going is the inspiration we get from the founders in our portfolio–and those who we’ve supported through our COVID-19 relief grants (find out more by watching our sizzle reel)–who’ve learned how to pivot, shift gears, batten down and find ways to persevere through these strange and uncertain days. Find out more about what they’re doing on the GingerSnaps blog.

From the whole team at GingerBread Capital, we wish you health, peace and ever better days ahead. Thanks for being a vital part of our community.


Camera IQLaunched in 2016 by co-founders Allison Wood and Sonia Tsao, Camera IQ’s platform makes it easy for brands to build and deploy camera-centric marketing campaigns that engage audiences in augmented reality experiences.

FrankFounder/CEO Charlie Javice‘s mission is to make education more affordable for all. With Frank’s platform, prospective students are matched with schools offering financial aid that meets their individual needs and capacity.

HamamaUp your daily nutrition quotient by cultivating microgreens — those yummy, flavorful sprouts that spice up every dish — in your own kitchen. Co-founders Camille Richman and Daniel Goodman, MIT grads and agricultural researchers at the MIT Media Lab, offer a simple at-home kit that allows you to grow sprouts from seed strips in less than 7 days — all you add is water and a little sunlight.

RitualFounder/CEO Katerina Schneider launched her subscription-based vitamin company on the belief that better health begins with better ingredients. Ritual multi-vitamins are formulated with key nutrients that women and men need–and nothing extra. Read how Katerina raised more than $40 million in investment capital, in Business Insider (login required).

Shaka Tea Founded in 2016 by Hawaiian born and raised Bella Hughes and her husband Harrison Rice, Shaka Tea brews its refreshing, ready-to-drink iced teas with māmaki, an ancient, adaptogenic superleaf that’s only found one place in the world: the Hawaiian archipelago. Shaka was recently named the Second Fastest Growing Hawaii Company in 2020.

Zero Grocery – Serving the San Francisco Bay area, Zero does more than just deliver groceries to your doorstep. Launched in 2018 by founder/CEO Zuleyka Strasner, Zero is on a mission to eliminate plastic from the wastestream, forever, by providing low-cost, high-quality food products in reusable, refillable, zero-plastic containers. Think of Zero as your eco-friendly, modern-day milkman service for all of your groceries.

GBC has also invested in two startups that were conceived by MBA students at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business (Linnea’s alma mater, and where Ezza Nails also got its start!). Ollipsis Fertility, co-founded at the beginning of the year by Booth classmates Anne Tong and Albert Mikkelsen, offers access to fertility preservation through free, elective egg freezing, and helps couples struggling with infertility find better egg donor options. Lighten, launched in 2019 by Booth grad Alexandra Koys, is a digital one-stop-shop for planning uplifting celebrations of life. During COVID-19, Lighten has pivoted to help people unable to gather in person to hold virtual memorial services as a way to honor and celebrate the lives of loved ones who have passed.


Construct Capital, a new Seed/Series A-focused VC firm co-founded by Dayna Grayson and Rachel Holt, focuses on “deep-tech” startups aiming to transform manufacturing, supply chain, food, transportation, and other foundational industries “that drive half our economy’s GDP yet are failing to meet customer expectations.” Read the Wall Street Journal article (subscription required).


This past May, GBC Founder/CEO Linnea Roberts sat down with IFundWomen Co-founder/CEO Karen Cahn on Instagram Live for an in-depth conversation about women investing in women and our COVID-19 relief grants program. Watch the video.

In recent months GBC Partner Ita Ekpoudom has been a featured speaker in a variety of virtual discussions addressing women investing in women, and access to venture capital for women and diverse founders, including The Riveter, General Assembly-Denver, and Generation W REfresh.

On Aug. 13, Linnea was a featured panelist on an invite-only webinar examining approaches to closing the equity capital gap for Black and Latinx founders. Hosted by Chicago-based Next Street, the panel also featured GBC portfolio co. co-founder Irma Olguin, Jr. of Bitwise Industries, along with founders and reps from Founders First Capital, Surdna Foundation and the MacArthur Foundation. Listen to the webinar.

Upcoming Events

On Aug. 28, Ita will be sharing tips for women founders on how to move from initial seed funding in their startups to a first-round Series A, at the All RaiseBuilding for Success: Post-Seed to Series A” bootcamp.

On Sept. 14, Ita will be interviewed in a “fireside chat” video with Dennis Scully, host of the popular Business of Home podcast, discussing what the future might hold for venture investing in home-focused startups, as part of the Future of Home show, the premier annual event for interior designers and home industry professionals.

On Oct. 2, Linnea will join a panel discussion about “Consumer Behavior in the Age of Coronavirus,” at the Taste of Texas (virtual) Showcase and Tradeshow, sponsored by the University of Texas at Austin Nutrition Institute. The event brings together emerging brands, investors and industry leaders to share their expertise with UT students.