Giant Robots Smashing Into Other Giant Robots

423: Reign Ventures with Monique Idlett

May 19th, 2022

Monique Idlett is the Founder of Reign Ventures, a seed-stage investment firm, and previously the Co-Founder and CEO of Mosley Brands and Mosley Music Group, home to a multiplatinum roster of artists.

Chad talks with Monique about how the music industry is like the startup venture capital industry, understanding that representation matters, having a data-forward approach, and appearing on the TV show Undercover Billionaire, where entrepreneurs are given 90-days and nothing but 100 dollars to go undercover and build a thriving million-dollar business for a small town in the US.

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CHAD: This is the Giant Robots Smashing Into Other Giant Robots Podcast, where we explore the design, development, and business of great products. I'm your host, Chad Pytel. And with me today is Monique Idlett, the Founder of Reign Ventures, a seed-stage investment firm, and previously the Co-Founder and CEO of Mosley Brands and Mosley Music Group, home to a multiplatinum roster of artists.

Monique, thank you so much for joining me. Now, you left Mosley Music Group about three years ago to focus exclusively on Reign Ventures. How is the music industry like the startup venture capital industry?

MONIQUE: There is no difference in the way I see a pipeline of amazing talented founders. We're truly looking for those exceptional founders that we can help develop, put up that bumper system. The end product in the music industry was the music we were consuming, the experiences through the live art form. And in the startup world, that end product is the success and the ability to scale a real solution that this company has solved with amazing, talented people. So to me, it was a nice, easy transition, and it made sense.

CHAD: Are there ways in which it's different?

MONIQUE: Oh my goodness, yes, lots of ways that it's different. The difference is that music is an art form. For me, music is the universal language. I believe that I've traveled the world. And I've been to places where there were language barriers, but when a song, a popular song, came on, the language barrier was gone. In the startup world, there may be several people trying to create and penetrate a problem area in a vertical or a category. And we may not have the ability in the startup world to have several of the same sounding things from a business model. They may not all work.

And so you're dealing with the emotional capacity on the music side. And on the tech side of things you're truly dealing with, can you really solve this problem? We're solving problems, not just emotional connections from the music industry perspective. And also, it's a lot slower moving. We have a project in the music industry, and it may have a cycle. And now it's an even shorter cycle with technology. You may be able to create an entire project in just a couple of weeks.

In the startup world, in the business side of things, you may not see the development for two to three years. So the patience is definitely...I've had to apply a lot more patience and understanding of being able to scale a business versus just a project-driven entity. So it's a little different, but the end result is all the same. Creating real great solutions for real problems, whether it's through an art form or whether it's through a business model, is all similar to me.

CHAD: So, do you have a particular investment strategy or focus at Reign?

MONIQUE: We do. Erica and I currently we are the largest two female Black-owned VC fund. So one of the things that we felt ten and a half years ago when we started investing together is investing has just been done...venture has been done wrong. There's a reason why less than 3% of funding collectively was...still to this day; it's about 3.2. But over ten years ago, when we started, only less than 3% of funding from VC was going to women, all women, and Black and Brown founders.

And so literally, we were like, the problem is that we're not having enough investment or a lens on women and people of color. And we want to do it the way it should have always been done: investing inclusively. We are proud to say that we invest in all founders, all exceptional founders. And yes, we have a lens on women and people of color because they've been under-capitalized and under-resourced and under-everything. And so the reality is that we want to set the tone of how it should always look and the world is inclusive. Diversity is not an issue; the equity and inclusion side is an issue. And we want to keep being that example.

CHAD: That's great. Do you feel like, or in your experience, have you found that these founders were already out there and they just were being passed over? Or were the problems so systemic that they weren't even getting the opportunity to even be out there?

MONIQUE: I think there are always exceptional people out there; that's number one. And I think it's a two-prong problem: yes, the pipeline, the access. So there's the lack of access for these types of founders that has absolutely been an issue, the lack of resources, the lack of access. But the other side of it is that they have just been overlooked and not allowed into the rooms. There are exceptional people in this world that don't only look like one type of person. And the reality is that we have access to them. And so yes, both of those are an issue, okay.

But the reality is that we have exceptional founders of all types of people. There are amazing people in this world. When you sit behind a computer, and you run an algorithm, and you only go to only your network of what looks like you and comfortable, then you are what we call missing out on a ton of opportunity. So Erica and I are founder-friendly. We go where the founders are.

CHAD: I've come to learn and understand representation really matters. Being able to see yourself is really important. And it's something that because I look like what I look like, I had the privilege to not realize how important that is because there are so many people in power that look like me. I can imagine it's super refreshing to a lot of the founders that you work with to be talking with you and sitting across the table from you and seeing that and talking to someone that understands them.

MONIQUE: Yes. I think that having someone to relate to on all levels, personal, professional is a very important concept. And I remember starting my career at USA Today; not only was I different in age because most of my colleagues were 40-plus, and I was in my young 20s, they were mostly male and definitely particularly only Caucasian. I was the first African American executive on the marketing and sales side. And I remember feeling very isolated and very lost and not knowing who I could turn to that would understand some of the things I was actually going through.

And so yes, founders, it eases the founder's mind when they can talk to me and know that hey, I didn't always look like this from this perspective. I grew up in income-based housing in New Jersey. I understand where you come from. Yes, I understand what it's like to be a Black woman; I am one.

But also the other side of it is that when we have founders who are Caucasian male. We like to have conversations of inclusion from the ground up with them. "Did you think about this consumer base? Do you know that you might have to message different?" These are things and conversations that people are not having if you're only talking to one type of person. And so, I think that what Reign Ventures is doing is allowing for comfortable conversation and then execution.

CHAD: That's great. You started with a $25 million fund in Reign, and you're well beyond that now, right?

MONIQUE: Yes, yes. So our current fund is a $50 million fund, and then our next fund will be...we're going for the stars and trying to raise $100 million.

CHAD: Wow. I've talked to a few people who are either interested in starting VC or who have done it before. And what do you use to judge how much or how large of a fund you'll be building?

MONIQUE: So we like to think of what we want the outcome to be. And so, the long-term goal of Reign Ventures is to have a billion-dollar under asset management. That has not been done by two Black females before. And so we understand if we do that, if we look at the long-term goal, if we do that and count backwards, here's what it will take to get to that billion dollars under asset management. So yes, the size of the fund will have to increase.

But we also know that that means we're creating amazing companies and supporting amazing founders with Reign Ventures. And so we look at the size as our ability to have a larger stake and the ability to have follow-on capital for all of the companies that are doing amazing. I would tell anyone who is looking to start a venture fund that Erica and I (Erica is my business partner.) she and I started and wrote our thesis over ten years ago.

And we actually deployed our personal capital for the first nine years so that we could create a data room and so that we could understand what it meant and felt like to have skin in the game so that we can learn truly where we sat well with a thesis. And it ended up being we do really well with consumer tech and SaaS, you know, B2B SaaS software.

And so, I would say that it's not an easy journey to start a venture fund. Truly understand what you want your thesis to be. Truly understand that you're going to hear the word No way more than you will hear the word Yes. This is someone else's investment. This is accountability. And try it and understand it before you just start raising money.

CHAD: You sort of alluded to this earlier; you said increasing the size of the fund is going to allow you to make bigger investments and follow-on investments. So do you also see you investing in more companies?

MONIQUE: So we like to have a 20 to 25 cap strategy per fund. And what we do is we take 25% of the capital for the earliest investment, and then we save 75% of it for the follow-on round so that we maintain our equity stake. Because we're founder-friendly, so we always want to be in that board room. We always want to roll up our sleeves with the founders and so maintaining whichever early equity we have, which is usually the way the fund is structured, between around 10%. It allows us to not just do more companies; it actually allows us to really double down on the portfolio itself and make sure that we're staying and growing with the founders.

CHAD: How involved are you? Are you personally involved? Do you split the portfolio up, and each person takes a few? Or how do you typically do it?

MONIQUE: We truly, truly do take my 25-plus years in the music industry. We take that very bumper system approach of we're here to help develop the raw talent and, on the tech side of things, the actual founding team and the evolution of the company. And so I usually take the board seats.

Erica, she comes from finance, and she's been doing finance banking for over 25 years. She's been doing early-stage investing for 16 of those years. And so, she helps with the finance cap strategies. How do we get you from your seed stage to your A in 12 months? How do we get you from your A to your B? So she's very, very involved with the financial models and running several of those and working with the founders on who's on your cap table? Okay, so intentionally and strategically, who's missing from your cap table? Let's work on that.

And then I'm always the one working on taking the board seat. I'm the one working with the vision, the strategy. I'm an operator, so I have a most extensive network. And so I'm the one aligning them with our resources, our network. And you know, yeah, we're very, very involved.

And I think that when you're dealing with seed-stage because that's the stage we're in, it's the riskiest. We try to de-risk the company, the founder, the founding team as much as possible. So we are as involved as the founder wants us to be. We do not make founders feel guilty for not having the largest team. We're like, "Okay, what do you need? Let's get you that." And that's where we like to play. We don't see ourselves going into anything past the seed stage.

CHAD: Is there a limit to how many companies that you're able to personally work with? And how do you scale, Monique?

MONIQUE: So the cool thing about our fund is that all of the companies are intentional. Half of our companies are consumer tech. So they mostly need pretty much the same type of things, even if they're in different verticals. The other half is SaaS. And so the reality is that they're in different stages. They're growing at different stages. And we, first and foremost, create a founder community that supports each other. That's number one.

Then we have an LP community that supports not just Erica and I but our founder community. So we look at investing as from a holistic community. We drive community, and that is the way that we're able to actually still have a sustainable business model with Erica and I. And we have a team. We don't do anything by ourselves. We have an entire team dedicated to the growth of our portfolio companies.

CHAD: Speaking of that team, what does that team look like now in terms of the different roles on it? And how big is it?

MONIQUE: So currently, right now, we have about four full-time. And then, we have a couple of interns who work on the data science side. And then we also have in-house from just Monique from my particular business model side; we have an HR. We have financial operators, and then we have contractors and partners. And so, at the end of the day, there isn't anything that our founders need that we can't source for them internally or externally.

CHAD: Who was the first person you brought onto the Reign team, and why?

MONIQUE: Her name is Naya, and she actually has worked for me on my foundation side for a few years. She's was an engineering student at University of Miami. And once she graduated, she was now getting her Master's in Data Science. And we felt like being able to report properly on our founders, the companies that were applying that we actually could not invest in but were investable, we'd like to keep track of that. And so, we felt like having someone who could really handle the data side of Reign Ventures was one of the more important hires.

And then, we also hired a full-time social media person who handles the content. We have a monthly podcast called The Series A. They oversee that so all communications on our portfolio companies and Reign Ventures as a whole. So those were the first two hires. And we're currently prepping to hire for the summer a full-time associate that will be out of the New York office. We have offices here in Miami, across from the University of Miami, and then we have offices in New York.

CHAD: That's cool. The data aspect of that is super interesting to me because I think that I talk to a lot of people, and a modern VC firm is certainly doing that. But there are still ones out there that don't have that data-forward approach that it sounds like you do.

MONIQUE: Well, we need to make sense of all of this. So we need to make sense of the idea of how many founders are applying? What is the demographic makeup of them? Who is this founder? Where are they coming from? What markets are they coming from? Because we do invest just only in the United States. And we pretty much invest in all markets here. We'd like to keep that data.

And most importantly, we are over-communicators with our LPs. So we're sending them monthly updates. Carta is updated every, you know, they have access to that. So we'd like for them to understand what our day is looking like. How are we spending our time? What type of founders are coming to us? Hey, you all don't necessarily have access to these founders, here's why we do. And so all of this information is important. You have to make sense of who your audience is. And for us, our audience are the founders.

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CHAD: You mentioned that you invest in people in some ways as much or more than you do the idea that they have and really work with them. How far along will people typically be with their product when you start working with them and investing in them?

MONIQUE: The way that the investment cycle is, you know, your family and friends, then your angels, and then sometimes even your super angels will come in after that. Then you have your pre-seed, which is usually where you're testing product-market fit, et cetera. And then we step in at the seed stage, which is founder market fit, you know, product-market fit, a billion-dollar addressable market.

You understand your operational strategy, where you're going to raise less than 50 million, and if you're not, you have that strategy of why? And definitely more than just an idea at that point. Now you just need to raise this round, to hire on more team, and then scale. So for us, that's how our due diligence works.

And if you make it through that due diligence, then it becomes about who is this founding team? Will they be able to deal with adversity? Because you're going to have it. Are they coachable? What is their leadership style? Is it an inclusive environment? You can't be creating an equity company, and then all the team looks the same. So these are the things that we're looking at.

What is your personality type? We like to spend time with our founders. How will you deal with the stress because the stress will come. Is your mindset the glass is half full or is it half empty? All of these things are important at the seed stage because it's not the growth stage where it's automatic it's happening. The seed stage boils down to can you deal with adversity?

CHAD: I imagine you reject a lot of people.

MONIQUE: Ooh, I would say that we use a different term. We are not dream killers.

CHAD: Okay. [chuckles]

MONIQUE: Here's what we say: we have an open-door policy with founders. We allow founders, even the ones that are not ready for investment or that we've actually had to pass on investment. And the thing is that we can only do 20 companies. That is where we'd like to sit, 20 companies per fund. And if for some reason, it's not a company that we invest in, we still give them access to our resources. We still give them access to our network. We still will spend…I mean, every Friday is our Founder Friday, and it fills up very quickly.

Erica and I get on with founders who are not in our portfolio because just because they weren't a good fit for Reign Ventures or it was something that we could not do, maybe it did not fit the fund's structure; we also try to align them with investors that might fit them more properly. And so I don't feel like we reject; we just redirect.

CHAD: So given that then, I imagine that you are often pretty open with the companies that you're not able to invest in the reasons why and hopefully, it helps them.

MONIQUE: Oh, absolutely. We get founders all the time that say, "Listen, this was the best thing. Prior to coming to you all, we weren't able to raise $1. You didn't invest in us, but you taught us how to be investable, and now we've raised money." That's what we want to hear. None of us win if there's really a great company with a great solution that can really have some traction if they never get up and running.

CHAD: That's great. And maybe you get the opportunity to invest in them later, right?

MONIQUE: Yep. Absolutely. Absolutely. There are a couple of companies that that has happened. And one of them is now back in our due diligence and probably will make it through.

CHAD: Yeah. Are there any companies in your portfolio that you particularly want to give a shout-out to?

MONIQUE: Oh, we love all of our portfolio companies.

CHAD: [laughs]

MONIQUE: You know, Sharebite, Dormify, SoLo Funds. SoLo Funds is one of my favorite companies from the perspective of dealing and disrupting predatory lending. As a person who grew up in a neighborhood that liquor stores and cash checking were like every other block, if not on the same block, we truly do know the long-term effect it has on those communities, right? The underserved communities get so taken advantage of. If you don't have $200 and then you go to a predatory lender, and you're paying them $2,000, how do you ever advance? And so SoLo Funds really, really the only Black-owned B Corp in the United States.

CHAD: That's awesome.

MONIQUE: This narrative is so important, Chad.

CHAD: Yeah. And, you know, not only is it important from a social perspective, but that is a huge business. It's a huge market opportunity for the right company with the right values to come in and be able to have a significant business, too, right?

MONIQUE: Listen, they're making the whole ecosystem better. For the lenders, listen; they feel good. They're having a positive social impact. And oh, by the way, I'm getting a return. For the borrowers, they are getting financial literacy. They are getting higher social credit scores, which is then impacting their personal credit score. I mean, listen, by the way, when this company was created, over 76% of Americans, if they were hit with a $200 bill, they were not going to be able to pay it. So this is not just about one type of community. This is about the American concept.

CHAD: So when you work with a company like that, were they a B Corp when you started working with them?

MONIQUE: No. True story, I was literally personally the second investor in and then the third before there was ever even...So Rodney Williams is the Co-Founder of SoLo Funds. And I'm on his board for LISNR. We were one of the first investors in LISNR, which is the data over audio company. And he shared this idea with me, and I loved it because we all come from a neighborhood where we know and we were the ones who quote, unquote, "were doing better" in our families. So we were always getting the daily calls like, "Oh, my car broke down. Oh, this." And when he said this to me, I'm like, "Oh my goodness, this makes so much sense. I'm in."

And see, this is where investing in people comes to play. Rodney had proved his ability as a founder with LISNR. So the trust was there, the relationship was there. Travis comes from banking, super, super intellectual, really quality guy, and not only is he the co-founder, but he's the CEO. And he's doing an amazing job. So no, it was not a B Corp; it is now one. And they will be the largest neobank for this community. And so growing and seeing the cycle of it is what, for me, personally, is what makes me happy. All of our companies in our fund have a social impact perspective.

CHAD: Had you been involved in a B Corp before? It's something that I'm really interested in, but I have not been directly involved in one before. And I'm actually really interested in it for thoughtbot too.

MONIQUE: No, I had not. No.

CHAD: Is it difficult? [laughs]

MONIQUE: So was it difficult for them? Absolutely. But they made it through. They made it through. And I think that we now have two men who are great human beings who happen to be Black men, but they are just great human beings who went through the process and can now help educate and share that experience with other people that look like them and are trying to do the same thing as them, create great companies with a great social impact to just have a better world.

CHAD: From an investor perspective, when your portfolio companies want to embark on something like becoming a B Corp, which, you know, some investors might look at and say, "That might be a distraction from what you need to do now," how do you look at those things?

MONIQUE: I mean, listen, if you want to become a B Corp, you actually are trying to have more of an impact, and I wish more companies were. When we actually are only focusing on the dollar side, the stakeholders of the dollar side, how are we truly making sure that we're impacting the world in a positive way? There's a lot of conflict usually.

So we encourage that type of behavior; we encourage founders to think beyond their dollar sign and their stakeholders' dollar sign. The good thing is that they had an amazing team supporting them. They had an amazing A series lead investor, ACME, that really drove it with them. And so they did this. We didn't do this. They did it. This was their mission, and they did it.

CHAD: That's great. And it's definitely something that's on my list to dig into more, like I said, for thoughtbot as well. So was it 2021 that you were on Undercover Billionaire? Was it last year?

MONIQUE: Oh my goodness.

CHAD: Or was it the end of 2020?

MONIQUE: So it was the end of 2020, yes. [laughs] Tacoma, Washington.

CHAD: Yeah. So for folks who don't know, Undercover Billionaire is a TV show where you give up all of your resources, and you're planted in a city, and you start a business from scratch. And you have what? Ninety days to bring it to a million-dollar business?

MONIQUE: Yes. So technically, the premise of the show is you literally get a new identity. And you do not know where you're being dropped literally until you're dropped there. And so, I had no idea I would be dropped into Tacoma, Washington. And one, they give you $100, literally, a phone with no contacts in it, and a used vehicle, and you have 90 days to turn that into a million-dollar valuation.

CHAD: It must have been a wild experience.

MONIQUE: I have to tell you, the emotional connection that has to happen and then also by the way you're lying to everyone, it was a very intense thing. And most of the time, 99% of time, you're running on adrenaline. And to be completely honest, when I first got there, you're focused on the goal. The goal is can you make this valuation? The goal is I can't be the example that didn't make it right. Then when you get there, it becomes less and less about the goal.

You actually get to a point where you don't even care if you make the goal. You care about the community that you've been dropped into. And you just want to see them win, and you want to see them become better. And Tacoma, Washington, everything from the mayor, down to now to one T'wina Nobles, who is now the Senator, the youngest senator in the state of Washington, these amazing people were a part of my journey.

So it became all about, wow, at the end of that experience, that last show, and I look at the room of all those people, it was the most inclusive experience naturally. That's what the win was for me personally. And I also got to learn about myself. But I will tell you that it was one of the hardest things I've ever done in life outside of having children and raising them to be healthy adults.


CHAD: Not only to build the business, you mean, but that experience of --

MONIQUE: Just the entire experience.

CHAD: I watched the episode where you told everybody who you really were.


CHAD: And I could see that it had really affected you.

MONIQUE: I was lying to people every single day. And these people were so amazing. They donated their time, their resources, their ability to me because that company could not happen without them and without the community. And so, what we all walked away with was a shared experience of how powerful community actually is. And that even when you don't know how to figure something out, if you use your voice, someone will actually help you and you end up all helping each other. For me, that's what was so beautiful about the experience.

CHAD: I imagine it's pretty intense. How quickly did you force yourself to settle on the business you were actually going to build?

MONIQUE: It's so interesting because I have been asked like, "Did you create the concept before you went?" And I said, "Actually, no," literally, I went into it with a blank mind of wherever I end up, I want to see what they need, and we'll create a business model around that.

So I think it was like day four of being in Tacoma. And I was in an area that was a food desert for the most part. And I'm like, listen, I'm talking to people, and they're like, "Oh yeah, we have to order juice shots. They have to get shipped. Or we get the ones that are, you know, sitting in the grocery store, and that's not a lot of options."

And I'm like, wow, this is a problem. And I'm like, let's reimagine the ice cream truck. Everyone would like to think that the wealth gap...that if you make money, you care about your health, if you don't make money, you don't care about your health, actually, no. [laughs] I grew up in a natural home, and we lived in income-based housing growing up. And so the reality is that everyone wants to be healthy.

People need more access to healthier options at an affordable rate, and people will buy it. So the question was, oh, Monique, you can't sell juice shots for $5. Yes, we can. You think a community just because they're underserved won't pay for their health? They absolutely will if you give them the option to. We always sold out in the communities that they said would never sell.

CHAD: So up against a ticking clock, what did you do to sort of validate the idea and really run with it, or did you just know?

MONIQUE: No, you don't just know, right?

CHAD: Yeah. [chuckles]

MONIQUE: You're literally working on adrenaline. Listen, there was nothing normal. We all know this as business owners; there's nothing normal about this concept. You can't create a successful business in 90 days. So you're literally in overdrive: no sleep, multitasking, doing all types of things. Here was the thing; first of all, I talked to the community. I asked them what did they need? What were they missing? If they had access to something, would they utilize it? That was number one.

Number two was testing it. So I started making samples. And I went out to the community again and started testing it. Three was of the test that did good; let's run with that and package that up. And you have to understand, Chad, it was the height of the pandemic. Everything was shut down. You know, I live in Florida, so we weren't like that. But going to Tacoma, Washington, nothing was open. So I had to think, how do I get to people because they're not coming and cannot come to a brick and mortar?

So the only thing that was pretty much open was the farmers' market. So that's what I did. I'm like, let's get to the farmers market. And also, let's see how we become mobile, oh, the ice cream truck treats. Let's teach people that healthy treats are actually what they crave.

CHAD: I think even though it was accelerated, intense, the things you're talking about doing in terms of validating the idea, actually talking to customers, testing things out, those are things I think people want to do in any situation.

MONIQUE: It is absolutely true. We talk to founders all the time, and it's the I, I, I. And we tell them, "Well, have you talked to your customer?" Sometimes we're so close to our ideas because we hold them, and we're trying to solve a problem maybe that we experience. That's step one. But step two is, is it something that other people want and need? So you definitely have to go out there and do market research.

CHAD: Are there other things that you counsel founders on doing? Particularly with the seed stage, you know, on the verge of significant growth and scaling, what are some things that are maybe common plays or common pitfalls of companies at that stage?

MONIQUE: So some of the things that we see, especially with solo founders, is them having this idea that only they can do everything and not understanding that you actually have to have a founding team. And that does require you to give some equity. We see founders wanting to hold on to everything. And then it becomes do you want 100% of something that's very restricted, or do you want to share it and make it something really special and a part of a billion-dollar concept? So that's one.

Two would be founders in need happen to take money without understanding that it is a debt that even if it's fundraising and you're raising institutional capital, these are your investors. These are your partners. And is it a good partnership? We have seen a lot of founders in contractual and legal documents because they went and took money from the wrong type of investor. We see that --

CHAD: And they did that because they were desperate at the time?

MONIQUE: They were desperate. They were desperate. They were desperate and for just really crazy, contractual things. They don't have attorneys look at the paperwork. We see a lot of these mistakes. And so we tell founders you have to have a step back from your business. You have to look at all types of options. Have you applied for grants and particular grants in areas of the problem that you're solving? Have you tried for Small Business Association grants? Have you tried to get a credit line versus an investor who's now going to have equity? These are all the things.

And if you do need investors, don't take all the same types of investors. If every investor in your cap table is a bean counter and the numbers aren't playing out well for them, what type of board meeting is that going to be? So make sure you have an operator who's on your board. Make sure you have a financial person, investor on your board. You have to be very strategic and intentional. And if you're in a desperate moment, I can guarantee that is not when you want to take the money that you actually need to do a deeper dive and step back from the company to really see what the company needs.

CHAD: Monique, I feel like that's great advice. The level of experience and passion that you have for the work is obvious in listening to you. It makes me want to work with you. [laughs]

MONIQUE: Oh, thank you, Chad. Yes, I'm very impressed with what you have built. And I'm very impressed with you understanding the ability to give access to information to your audience. Here's the thing, we are products of an environment of capitalism. And there's nothing wrong with capitalism, but it just needs to be a lot more conscious. And it needs to have a much better impact for all. The problem with from our childhood age of education is we've been taught that there's only one, there can only be one winner. There's only one first place.

We have to take that mindset back and really step into the power and the power that we truly have, which is abundance. There's enough for us all. We just have to give that power back to it. And the reality is that we all need each other, and we all need to build together. And people just need access to information.

Most founders tell us, "I was embarrassed to ask that. I was made to feel like I was supposed to know this, so I just went ahead and pretended like I knew it." It's okay that we don't know everything. In fact, I like to sit in that space of student and say, "You know what? I like to be in the room that I actually don't know anything because then that means I'm learning, and it's okay. We better keep learning."

One of my favorite quotes is, "We delight in the beauty of the butterfly but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty." And Maya Angelou wrote that, and she understood the human spirit needs to understand that no matter what career path we're on, Founder, CEO, employee, employer, no matter what that is, it is a constant evolution of self. And sometimes we'll feel like a butterfly, and sometimes we will have to be in that learning and growth and uncomfortable stage. But the beauty of uncomfort means you're growing, and we have to make more people feel comfortable with that.

CHAD: That's beautiful. Monique, thank you so much for coming on the show and sharing with all of us.

MONIQUE: No, thank you, Chad, for having me.

CHAD: If folks want to get in touch with you or find out more about Reign, where are all the different places that they can do that?

MONIQUE: So if they want to contact me, they can email me at, which is We're on LinkedIn; we're on Twitter; we're on Instagram. And if they want to learn more about Reign VC, they could just go to And if they have any questions, they can submit it, and we'll get back to them.

CHAD: Wonderful. And you can subscribe to the show and find notes and a full transcript for this episode at If you have questions or comments, email us at, and you can find me on Twitter at @cpytel.

This podcast is brought to you by thoughtbot and produced and edited by Mandy Moore. Thanks for listening, and see you next time.

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