We were thrilled to kick off Summer 2022 with news that one of our amazing portfolio companies has been acquired by a Fortune 500 global conglomerate. Read on about how it all happened for Basepaws Founder and CEO Anna Skaya.
GingerBreadCap’s Hot Summer 2022
Highlights of our latest news
You may have heard about the acquisition of Basepaws, maker of genetic tests for cats, by animal health company Zoetis Inc. (NYSE:ZTS), announced on June 7. Founder and CEO Anna Skaya (pictured above with a few of her muses) launched the Santa Monica, CA-based company in 2017, after hearing a keynote speech by personal genomics company 23andMe Founder Anne Wojcicki, who quipped that someone should make a DNA test for felines and call it, “23 and Meow.” Anna went home that evening and bought the domain name.
It’s a fascinating trait that runs through all entrepreneurs when an idea hits and they throw their hearts and souls into it. While the domain name didn’t stick, it inspired Anna to bring the first-ever genetic test for cats to market, followed by new product lines in feline dental health and early detection health risk tests. Her appearance on “Shark Tank” in 2018 gave her fledgling startup much wider exposure and seed money from the TV show’s investors, Kevin O’Leary and Robert Herjavec.
Last year, as she was in the throes of raising a substantial Series A round, Anna met with Zoetis CEO Kristin Peck. Zoetis was already an R&D partner of Basepaws and Anna was aiming to bring the company onto her cap table as a strategic partner. But it quickly became apparent to the two women that, rather than an investment, an acquisition made more sense and would allow Basepaws to bring new and breakthrough healthcare innovations much more quickly to market.
The acquisition will allow Basepaws, with Anna at the helm, to continue its operations and product development at its Santa Monica headquarters.
More Women, Please
The Basepaws acquisition is yet another business success story where women are leading and driving major deals. As GingerBreadCap Partner Ita Ekpoudom noted in a recent Forbes interview (also featuring GBC portfolio co. Founder/CEO April Koh of Spring Health) about the “why” of investing in women founders:
“Women are building high growth companies. They are solving big, audacious problems. We are seeing acquisitions, IPOs, unicorns. It is no longer a question of ‘can women be successful founders.’”
Yet, in the boardroom and among investors, women are often the exception to the rule. On Basepaws’ cap table, GingerBread Capital and Chloe Capital, headed by Managing Partner Elisa Miller-Out, stand out as the sole women-focused venture investors.
“Representation matters,” Anna Skaya acknowledges. “I have amazing male supporters but there are unique experiences and expertise that women bring, too, and having both men and women among our investors has only made our company stronger.” She adds:
“A relationship with investors goes beyond money. When big questions come up, it’s important to be able to get expert advice from your board and your advisors, which is what we had from the GingerBread team from day one.”
Women Investing in Women
We’re all about representation. And we love having opportunities to nurture this growing ecosystem of women operators, investors and founders across the country. In early June, we gathered with nearly two dozen superstars at our fave eatery in Menlo Park, CA (Camper @campermp) to welcome All Raise‘s new CEO Mandela SH Dixon (front row, far left) and network with some leading Bay Area VCs: Jess Lee of Sequoia Capital, Mallun Yen of the Operator Collective, Monique Woodard of Cake Ventures and Aileen Lee of Cowboy Ventures, to name just a few.
Clearing the Air
Also joining us was Aclima Founder/CEO Davida Herzl, who in early July announced the launch of her company’s ground-breaking partnership with the State of New York to monitor air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions at the hyperlocal level in communites across the state. NY Governor Kathy Hochul first announced the initiative–the first of its kind in the nation–during Climate Week 2021. Read more.
More recently, Davida and Aclima have also been featured on Vice/ Motherboard’s new documentary series, “Silicon Ceiling,” focused on women leaders in tech. You can also watch how Aclima’s technology works in this (6-minute) Weather Channel video documenting how air pollution disproportionately affects health and shortens lifespans in Black and brown communities. And, listen in to TechCrunch‘s “Found” podcast convo with Davida about how she built her climate tech company and why hyperlocal data is so crucial in equitably addressing the effects of climate change.
Shout Out to Black Tech Week
Kudos to the dynamic duo heading up Lightship Capital, Candice Matthews Brackeen and Brian Brackeen, on their wildly successful, first annual Black Tech Week. The week-long event, hosted in Cincinnati last month, attracted more than 1,700 attendees–founders, investors, corporate partners, and tech talent–who came to network, collaborate, forge strategic partnerships and listen in-person to candid conversations with tennis legend and VC investor Serena Williams; Detavio Samuels, CEO of REVOLT Media & TV; and Kimberly Bryant, founder and CEO of Black Girls Code, among many other leaders and luminaries. Watch a short recap of the event.
See You at SXSW2023 (fingers crossed!)
SXSW, the premier tech and arts confab held annually in March in Austin, TX held open voting in August for the panel sessions it will include in its 2023 programming. We loved participating at SXSW2022 this past March (listen in to our panel discussion on “how to grow a strong brand in an ever-shifting digital landscape” featuring GBC Partner Katherine Rice with two founders in the GBC portfolio who’ve done just that: Jenna Kerner of Harper Wilde and Nathan Komanduri of Pair Eyewear). And we want to go back next year!
We were thrilled that the good folks at SXSW have selected two of our panel proposals for a final vote:
- how diversity in leadership, on the cap table and beyond is critical to startup success, and
- how to build a successful omnichannel business (not simple!).
Each of our proposed panel sessions would bring Katherine Rice back to the stage in conversation with diversity champions Julian Eison of Next Ventures and Jocelyn Mangan of Him For Her; and founders KJ Miller of Mented Cosmetics, Kimmy Scotti of Fig.1, and Jen Zezsut of Goodles. SXSW will finalize its panel sessions by the end of October. We’ll keep you posted. And for those of you who voted for ours, thank you thank you thank you!
On June 24, the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in an unprecedented reversal of women’s constitutional right to abortion that had been upheld for nearly 50 years.
We are among the majority of Americans who support women’s fundamental right to choose and control their own healthcare decisions.
We will continue to support the founders and companies in our portfolio whose businesses further the advancement of women’s health and healthcare throughout their lives. They include: Hued, Joylux, Maven, proov, Twentyeight Health and Tia (read Tia Co-founder & CEO Carolyn Witte‘s San Francisco Chronicle op-ed about the Supreme Court decision, recapped on Instagram @asktia).
With the outcome in Kansas‘s primary in early August to uphold women’s right to abortion in its constitution, we remain hopeful that continuing to champion and support women’s full access–from healthcare to education, career advancement to capital for their businesses–will create a better future for everyone! Learn more about the organizations we support.
New in the GBC Portfolio
CareAcademy is an online education and training platform for home care and home health agencies that covers all aspects of the caregiver experience. The Boston, MA-based company was founded in 2013 by CEO Helen Adeosun and today works with thousands of agencies, franchisors and caregivers nationwide to improve the caregiver experience and provide better care, and better outcomes for their clients.
Nanopath is a molecular diagnostics company disrupting traditional testing methodologies. The startup aims to improve the health of women by providing granular and clinically actionable information within a single office visit. Co-founded by Dartmouth College Ph.Ds Amogha Tadimety and Alison Burklund in 2019, the Cambridge, MA startup was spun out of the Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth in partnership with Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center.
Out + About
+ Ita Ekpoudom joined a star-studded panel at the 2022 Milken Institute Global Conference, May 1-4 in Los Angeles, to discuss how to close the funding gap for women founders, from traditional lending to VC investments. Watch the video replay on the Milken Institute website).
+ Ita is one of 58 “innovation investors” around the globe selected to participate in the Kauffman Fellows leadership program. The two-year program aims to create a more equitable, inclusive venture ecosystem for investors, founders and operators.
+ Ita will also be leading a cohort of GBC portfolio co. founders to the invitation-only Masters of Scale Summit, October 18-20 in San Francisco.