This cool, charismatic, and free-spirited Nickelodeon actress-turned-fourth-generation venture capitalist and former host of the Emmy-nominated tech talk show "The Valley Girl Show" is one of the most influential movers and shakers in the industry and is giving her male entrepreneurs and investors a run for their money.
Earlier this past spring, GoGirl founder Jennifer Murphy hosted an exclusive sit-down at GoGirl Worldwide Studios in beautiful Newport Beach, California for an hour-long, illuminating conversation with early stage venture capitalist extraordinaire and co-founder of Los Angeles-based venture capitalist fund Halogen Ventures, Jesse Draper. The 36-year-old mother of three, wife, and daughter of legendary Silicon Valley venture capitalist, Tim Draper, unknowingly acquired the investment gene. Long before founding Halogen Ventures and funding famous, female-led businesses, like luxury activewear and lifestyle brand Carbon38, eco-conscious tea brand Tea Drops, and Sugarfina, the emissary of lavish confections and the “Tiffany of Candy in full-Technicolor,” Draper played a quirky, cool character alongside her real-life cousins in Nickelodeon’s “The Naked Brothers Band” prior to launching her own web-based tech talk show “The Valley Girl Show.” After two years of interviewing and picking the brains of some of the most successful, Silicon-based entrepreneurial men from her parents’ basement in Northern California on a fittingly pink and purple-hued television set, the proverbial light bulb flickered, leaving Draper wondering, “Where are all the women?” Before International Women’s Day was an annual global commemoration and the more-women-in-work became a national movement, there was Jesse Draper. Draper was investing in women’s start-ups and advocating for more female-funded ventures long-before her most arduous, female-forward successors. This led to Draper interviewing more and more female founders on her top-rated talk show, eventually landing a distribution deal with Cox Media Group, which led her to begin investing in the one thing that guaranteed a solid return – women.
And, Halogen Ventures was born.
Halogen, derived from the meaning of “salt producing,” is an LA-based, early stage venture capital investing fund focused on female-founded/led companies, start-ups, e-commerce, and technologies. The powerhouse investment firm has recently launched an initiative to fund companies dedicated to solving the current childcare crisis in America. When Draper first began investing in the women-led companies that she featured on her show, she quickly realized she had inadvertently began building a sizeable investment portfolio. She also noticed these same smart, bold businesswomen seemed reluctant to invest in potentially lucrative, for-profit companies and were more inclined to cut checks for charity and non-profit organizations, believing these “investments” were safe and risk-proof. Her attention-grabbing piece, “Investing in Women Isn’t a Fucking Charity” for Medium in September 2020, set off a firestorm of media headlines that sounded a deafening alarm throughout the industry. In order to break barriers and make financial gains comparable to men, women needed to invest more – much more. And, why weren’t they doing it?
Typically, Halogen Ventures invests from $250K to $1 million as an initial investment to qualified applicants, as well as offering customized mentorship and networking packages. Each applicant is evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Draper and her illustrious team of seasoned investors, sales experts, and chief advisors, which include her father Tim and fashion designer icon Rebecca Minkoff, seek budding brands that offer something unique, disruptive, and categorically “special.” And, it doesn’t hurt to have a great team and $1 million in revenue for traction, though Halogen has been known to take chances on investing in companies with a product still in the development phase. Draper’s takeaway is would-be investors need to start somewhere. Draper iterates even the most ambitious entrepreneurs don’t always need to have all the answers. It’s okay not to have all your ducks in a row. She advises entrepreneurs to instead surround themselves with a reliable support system and a tirelessly talented team to help guide them to where they need to go.
Jennifer Murphy “GoGirl” thoroughly enjoyed getting to know Jesse Draper, founder of Halogen Ventures during their one-on-one interview at GoGirl Worldwide Studio Headquarters.
Both women have backgrounds in entertainment and business, and Jesse felt reminiscent of her former pink infused studio while she sat in Jen’s studio’s that also had pops of pink in every nook and cranny. The audience, full of female founders and CEO’s, witnessed how much in common the two entrepreneurs had, and saw a bond that formed during the live interview right in for of their eyes.
Jen asked Jesse everything from how she balances it all as a mother, wife, and entrepreneur, to what it was like to interview geniuses like Elon Musk on her “Valley Girl” show several years prior. Jesse’s fun personality, deep commitment to helping women, and passion for helping affordable childcare solutions were just a few of the highlights the audience took away.
Jesse took questions from multiple female CEO's from the audience and shared wonderful answers, insights and suggestions.
Jen couldn’t resist showing the audience clips from Jesse’s wedding to Brian McInnes where she and her entire bridal party put on a surprise “Flash Mob” to “Call Me Maybe”.
It was apparent that both Jesse and Jen share a love for making others laugh and smile, and a shared love for empowering female entrepreneurs.
Jen had a few surprises up her sleeve for Jesse including a tiny pink unicorn, martinis sponsored by Spa Girl Cocktails and a beautiful corset and feather purse sponsored by Fee Frey.