Kerry Rupp ’93 didn’t know much about entrepreneurship in college, but she was always interested in business.
The biology major took accounting and marketing classes while at Duke, and she took a consulting job after college.
She went to business school five years after graduating, and since then, she’s been an entrepreneur, the CEO of an accelerator and a venture capitalist.
Now, Rupp is a general partner at True Wealth Ventures, a new $20 million fund that invests in early-stage ventures led by women.
The Austin, Texas-based fund plans to make $250,000 to $500,000 investments in 12 companies over the next four years. It will focus on companies from Texas because all other funds that cater to women are based in New York and California. However, Rupp and her partner will also consider opportunities that come to them through their networks.
The reason True Wealth Ventures started, Rupp said, is because she and her partner saw a void for women in venture capital. Although data shows that diverse leadership teams result in better financial returns, 85 percent of venture-backed startups have no women in a leadership role.
Rupp already had experience in venture capital through her time as CEO at DreamIt, one of the first startup accelerators. There, a team of entrepreneurs learned how to be venture capitalists by raising $20 million to invest in companies that came through the accelerator.
Rupp also worked on DreamIt Access, which was geared toward racial minorities, and DreamIt Athena, which was put in place to “help women mitigate the challenges of being underrepresented and underfunded.”
It’s difficult to get into venture capital, Rupp said, and 96 percent of venture capitalists are men. But for those who are interested in a career in venture capital, Rupp advises them to get entrepreneurial experience first.
“The more operating experience you have with patterns and problem-solving, the more useful you are as a venture capitalist,” she said.
Rupp worked on her own business, Holiday Golightly, for three years. The company specialized in planning girlfriend trips for groups of women.
She has also held a variety of corporate roles, but she has found she flourishes in environments where she can constantly solve problems, which makes startups and entrepreneurship a better match for her.
Rupp was first drawn to entrepreneurship while working with a startup software company through her job as a consultant. She admired how agile the company was to be responsive to its customers, and she eventually left her consulting job to join the startup.
To learn more about True Wealth Ventures, visit its website.
To read about more Duke Entrepreneurs, click here.