FFA made magic happen this year.
2019 was a year of accomplishments at a level that I have always wished for but never really expected. I mean that honestly. Because it doesn’t just take a good person and hard work to achieve great things – I learned that lesson in the first 20 years of my career. It also takes luck. A groundswell of support. And a little bit of magic.
The state of FFA today is beyond my wildest dreams. In 2019, we welcomed 3000 participants across 17 programs online and in person. We facilitated 350 custom-matched 1:1 meetings between founders and investors, media, partners and subject matter experts (and wow – the results!). We grew our investor community to 130+ funds from across the country. We replicated the scale, caliber and impact of our events in two large and challenging markets, LA and New York. We tripled the size of our community, again, without spending much on marketing, again. Or without spending much on anything, really.
Did I mention that I also had a baby this year? Yeah. I haven’t slept much since.
The real spotlight belongs to the founders in our community, who have raised more than $60M this year. To the CEO who tripled her fundraising goal within weeks of completing Ready Set Raise, after bootstrapping her company for 3 years, not entirely by choice. To the founders who let go of an idea that wasn’t working, opening themselves up to new possibilities. To the many others who thrived. The knowledge that we had even the smallest part in their journeys… it’s everything.
This brings me to all those people who’ve had a part in our journey: Our partners. What we do is only possible because of your support. You made this happen with us. And I am so, so grateful.
Of course it wasn’t all easy and rosy. We are very resource constrained and that is just plain hard. We faced challenges in our community that tested our values and culture. And our partnership with WeWork Labs, which started out as a high, became challenging once information came to light regarding WeWork’s track record on diversity. Out of respect for the Seattle-based Labs team, who have been wonderful, and in the spirit of giving people a chance to be better, we have kept our desks at WeWork Labs. At the same time, we have an open dialogue with (future) Board Member Frances Frei, and we are eagerly watching for WeWork to add women to its board and leadership team. If you heard my speech at the Champion Awards about the “messy middle”, this situation is a great example of that.
The hardest moments of the year are also harder to share so broadly. But trust me when I say we’ve had our share of anxiety, sleepless nights and tears. One day I might tell you more over a glass of wine.
We’re a week away from Christmas and Hanukkah and barreling quickly towards the end of the decade. In the blur of diapers, pitch meetings, holiday recitals, doctors appointments and sleepless nights that my life has become, I’m trying as best as I can to pause. A new decade is starting and the best is yet to come. I am so grateful, honored and excited. From the bottom of my heart: Thank you for being a part of our journey.