This week WIN Wednesdays woman is Christina A. Brodbeck. Christina is the co-founder of theicebreak, an app for couples to make the most out of their relationships. Prior to theicebreak, Christina was a founding team member at YouTube and the company’s first UI Designer. She later went on to lead UI for YouTube Mobile. She is an active angel investor and mentor at various places like 500 Startups and The Designer Fund. Follow Christina and theicebreak on Twitter.
Why do you think there aren’t more women angels/investors?
What do you think can be done to change that?
Women need to take it upon themselves to become more comfortable
with risk. Investing is a risky business, and there are no guarantees you’ll
make a profit or even get your money back. Women need to become
more comfortable with the instability of seed stage investing. I’ve spoken
with a lot of women who are more at ease playing traditional markets
or participating in institutional investment opportunities (e.g. – series A
and B) where there is less risk; they are, however, intimidated by angel
investing. I’ve had many interactions with fellow female investors where
they try to treat angel deals like institutional deals, and expect the founders
to have five year detailed financial projections. This is unrealistic; if you
are investing in an angel deal, their financial projections, and most likely
their entire company idea will change a number of times. Women need to
become comfortable with this risk.
We also need to create more women with wealth in the tech sector. To do
this, we need to get women into start-up companies at very early stages,
either as founders or as early employees, so they can get enough equity to
make money to invest. Traditionally early employees are technical, and so
we need to get more women into science, technology, and design so that
they can fill those roles. In addition, we need more startups and investors
to recognize the value of non-technical roles early on. A great business or
marketing person can make just as good a founder as a great engineer.
What was one of the most helpful pieces of advice you
received during your career?
The best advice I received was that as an entrepreneur, you are both a
person and a company. You are the face of both and you need to be
confident and be able to sell yourself if you’re going to have any hope of
selling your vision.
What was one of the biggest mistakes you’ve made during
your career? What did you learn from it?
Growing up, I mistakenly thought that your career is where you make
money, and your hobbies are where you have fun. Society tends to
encourage this mentality, teaching children that the only way to be
successful is to become a doctor, lawyer, or engineer. It took me a bit
longer than it should have to recognize that my hobby of designing Web
sites, something I desperately loved, could also be my career. I was a
history and pre-law major in college. When I made the decision to not apply
to law school and instead pursue design, it was a real turning point. Now
I’m able to do what I love every day and profit from it too!
As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a politician or in the CIA. As a teenager, instead of music
posters, my bedroom door was plastered with magazine cutouts of Franklin
Delano Roosevelt, Hillary Clinton, and Bill Clinton. I was actually kind
of obsessed with FDR, and admired his ability to come up with creative
solutions to complicated problems.
How did you become an entrepreneur and angel investor?
I don’t think it was one particular event that led me to become an
entrepreneur and an angel investor. I was always attracted to new and
exciting things and to helping others do the same.
As a kid family stories of my great-grandfather’s life had a huge impact on
me. I was in awe of his courage, his capacity to take huge risks, and his
desire to go on personal adventures. Despite the equivalent of a fifth grade
education and failed attempts at starting various companies (like a lumber
company), he eventually succeeded by founding a brass works foundry and
faucet company that later sold to American Standard.
As far back as I can remember I was always coming up with new business
ideas and schemes, and trying them out. For example, in college I was
working on starting a t-shirt design business. In high school I designed bags
for my grandmother to sew. When I was in elementary school, my friend and I
would regularly charge the neighborhood kids and parents to attend our talent
The real risk and a-ha moment, however, happened when I chose to move
out to California from Illinois without a job in sight to pursue my “hobby” of
designing web sites. I’ll never forget my dad saying at the airport “good luck
Do you have any advice for those interested in becoming
Stop thinking about it, and just go out and do it already!