Hello again, folks. I’m Spiffy, interplanetary journalist reporting from Planet Earth with an eye on entrepreneurs tackling inequality. Today I’m pleased to have Ipshita Mandal-Johnson of Global Bio Fund, to discuss opportunities for underrepresented founders.
Spiffy: Hello, Ipshita. It is wonderful to speak with you today. Why don’t we start by hearing about Global Bio Fund’s mission.
Ipshita: Hi Spiffy! It’s great to be here with you today. So, Global Bio Fund’s main mission is to grow innovative ventures founded by underrepresented founders who are addressing healthcare, food sustainability and climate change.
Spiffy: What got you onto this track?
Ipshita: Well, Spiffy, by the time I was eight-years-old, I had experienced both gender violence and poverty while living in Kenya and India. As you can imagine, my sense of clarity around the importance of addressing inequality developed quite early. At age 15, I began to channel that energy through entrepreneurship. The idea for an organization that builds multiple ventures at the same time (i.e. Venture Builder) was first envisioned in 2011, and eventually re-focused to include values like impact, knowledge, service to others and wellbeing.
Spiffy: That’s a young age to reach that kind of understanding. Well done for doing something positive with those experiences! How do you envision Global Bio Fund contributing to a more equitable world?
Ipshita: In 2019, less than 3% of venture capital was invested in women-led teams. However, women-founded startups are generating 10% more in cumulative revenues compared to their counterparts. At Global Bio Fund, we support women-led businesses, especially at the early stage (pre-seed, seed, Series A), through access to financial capital, social capital, human capital and business acumen.
Spiffy: That’s a pretty direct contribution! What kind of recent milestones have you reached?
Ipshita: In October 2020, we launched from stealth mode, publicly announcing our fund and the stellar group of partners and advisors associated with us. The people behind our fund have a combined 300-plus years of experience working in world leading institutions, including Harvard University, University of Cambridge, Milken Institute, Draper Esprit, Grameen Bank, USAID and McKinsey.
Spiffy: You definitely have a wide span of experience! I am curious, can you tell me about a time that you experienced failure, but failed to give up?
Ipshita: Well, Spiffy, I had been mentored by a world leading innovator for almost a decade and I had asked for their advice to support our strategy at Global Bio Fund. They actually rejected the premise of gender bias in bio innovation, and didn’t want to engage in discussion about it. In the beginning, I was surprised by the defensiveness and lack of willingness to engage. On further reflection, I realised that I had still made progress by highlighting the issue of female entrepreneurship, and perhaps contributing to a changed mindset.
Spiffy: A lot of people have a few mantras that guide them, what about you?
Ipshita: To never compromise on the values behind the organization — for any person or any investor at any time.
Spiffy: I have really valued our time together, Ipshita. Was there anything else you wanted to say before we sign off?
Ipshita: Yes, Spiffy! We are launching Global Bio Xcellerator masterclasses in 2021. They are designed for entrepreneurs in our network to gain wisdom on critical knowledge and skills from global leaders. Watch out for our first announcement for the January class in the next few weeks!
Spiffy: I’ll keep my eyes peeled! All the best on your new endeavor, Ipshita. Thank you for telling me about your work!
Ipshita Mandal-Johnson is the founding partner and CEO of Global Bio Fund, which has generated over 120 ventures, more than 18 companies and partnered with over 70 organizations. Ipshita has been directly involved with fundraising over $40 million, and more than $60 billion of mergers and acquisitions activity. She has over 15 years of experience in life sciences, technology and financial services working with companies such as Douglas Pharmaceuticals and McKinsey & Company. Ipshita completed her PhD from the University of Cambridge, and has lived and worked in seven countries including Kenya, India, the United States, United Kingdom and New Zealand.