Historically, capital hasn’t been easy to come by in the Midwest. Cultivating the startup ecosystem in Cincinnati required a new strategy to attract the capital needed to catalyze growth for founders eager to disrupt big markets with big ideas. Cintrifuse’s fund-of-funds strategy (modeled after the Renaissance Venture Capital Fund in Ann Arbor, MI) was a big bet. The strategy was beautifully executed with the incredible talent and dedication of people like Tim Schigel. Tim and I have remained close friends and colleagues ever since. 

After leading the investment committee for the Cintrifuse Syndicate Fund, Tim went on to found Refinery Ventures, a Midwest firm that invests in early-stage companies and offers mentorship to founders between post-seed and Series A funding. Last year Refinery Ventures launched a new podcast series, Fast Frontier Podcast, which explores “how innovation frontiers are emerging in surprising places.” It was fun sharing my story with Tim. We explored chapters in my entrepreneurial journey and personal success strategies, particularly the importance of taking risks, maintaining a beginner’s mind, and building relationships. Along with insatiable curiosity, fast learning, the right support from others, and willingness to try something new, my drive to forge new relationships has been a theme throughout my professional life.

Make Potential Your North Star

For me, success started with something my mother told me: “You’re in charge of your own potential, so make that potential your North Star.” In fact, entrepreneurship wasn’t my focus when I started out. I was highly inquisitive, filled with a thousand ideas, and loved to make genuine connections with lots of people. I still do! I was also crystal clear about one thing—my independence. As I told Tim, “My North Star, even as a very young woman graduating from university, was to be independent. I did not want to be dependent on family or friends for wherever I was headed. I wanted to pave my own way [and] be self-directed in the pursuit of my professional goals.”

A tough sense of independence has served me well. I advise my mentees with that insight in mind. Through the many pivots in my career, I’ve continually succeeded by answering key questions: What is my potential? How can I learn from others and build relationships toward realizing that potential? Answering those, I’ve been clear in mapping my professional path. 

Listen to the full episode.