Susan has had a long career in media, commerce and consumer products. She has held leadership positions at companies of all sizes and stages, from startups to public companies, often during periods of internal or external change.
She began her career in the magazine industry, where she founded and led Premiere Magazine. She spent almost a decade at Disney, rising to President of Entertainment at ABC. She was the CEO of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia; CEO and then Chair of Gilt.com; and she led AOL’s Brand Group, overseeing such brands as TechCrunch, Engadget and Moviefone, immediately before launching BBG Ventures.
I spent 30 years as an operator, including CEO roles at a public company and a high-growth startup. In 2009, when I was CEO of Gilt.com, I started a monthly breakfast for a new wave of female founders building companies in NYC. They all had similar stories about pitching all-male VCs firms who just didn’t get it. After awhile I stopped thinking about it as a problem and began seeing it as an opportunity — and in 2014, I launched BBG Ventures with Nisha Dua, to invest in founders who intuitively understand the dominant consumer (women). We are currently closing our third fund.
Clarity, resilience, complimentary skills, respect for one another, and a deep understanding of the consumer they’re building for.
We invest early, so we meet every two weeks for six months to a year to help with the essentials of early company building. Key to that is making sure the founder has enough runway to show market fit before they have to raise again. The best founders are honest about the challenges they’re facing; take feedback well; and are self-aware enough to recruit a team that addresses areas where they may be weak.
Be ready to tell us how this grows from a tight, focused launch to a solution for millions of people. The reality will likely be different, but we want to know you’ve thought about it — and that your goal is to build a market-defining company.
My pre-vc career spanned magazines, television, merchandising, eCommerce and digital media — and the dominant consumer across all of them has been women. Our mission at BBGV is to make sure that the next generation of problem-solvers — the founders who get their shot — is a more diverse, representative group than we’ve seen in the past. Not because it’s fairer, but because it offers the best odds that we’ll discover imaginative solutions to the big, gnarly problems facing us — and create value for our investors.
Building in the midst of the most diverse, creative and heterogenous city in the world is a huge advantage. The density of Fortune 500 companies, service industries, small businesses and talent cannot be matched. Whether you’re starting a consumer company or enterprise business, your customers are right next door. There’s no question that the city has been hard hit by COVID, but I would never bet against NYC. For every person leaving to find a quieter life, there is a kid who has dreamt of being here and may actually be able to afford the city now. In a year or two I think we’ll start to feel the impact of passionate, hungry, “new” New Yorkers.