Looking at Pocket Sun, SoGal founder, and all she has accomplished as an entrepreneur, it’s hard to believe this 20 something year old was a marketing graduate who only started exploring the area of entrepreneurship a mere three years ago!

As one of the founders of SoGal, she firmly believes that female millennials are the driving force of the future and hold the heartbeat of the future business world. Along with her business partner Elizabeth Galbut, she has grown and inspired a community of women who dare to break stereotypes, build careers in a usually male-dominated space, and encourage each other with lessons from all over the world.

In this interview, we talk to her about what inspired and continues to inspire her as well as her journey as an entrepreneur.

The New Savvy: Tell us more about SoGal/SoGal Ventures? What inspired you to start SoGal Ventures?

When I studied entrepreneurship three years ago, I noticed that there were very few women in that sphere – it made me cringe! This got me wanting to start a community where women feel liberated and safe to learn about entrepreneurship while also gaining exposure to people who’ve done it.

Once that community was formed and discussions were held, it became clear that the #1 shared problem was the lack of access to funding. I knew that if I could do anything to help women get more exposure in entrepreneurship opportunities, it would be through funding and capital.

In 2015, I met my current business partner and we started working on SoGal Ventures, which is the first female-led millennial venture capital firm. We began investing by the end of 2015 and have since made 50 investments across the world through personal investments, and another small VC fund that Elizabeth started.

At the beginning of 2017, we successfully launched SoGal Ventures Fund I and have invested in 14 startups globally with this fund.

The New Savvy: How did your firm get its name?

I started SoGal when I was in Southern California (SoCal), and it was a combination of SoCal + Gal.

The New Savvy: How is it different from other venture capitalist firms?

Only 7 percent of partners at venture capitalist firms are women so we are an absolute minority. The demographics of many firms also tend to be older, white individuals. Given all that, our understanding of where the world is going really stands out.

Being young millennials, we are so close to what we invest in; we have the first-hand experience and hear things from our peers about the latest trends or issues going on.

We don’t submit to what everyone else is investing in and have our own independent thinking in decision making – investing in firms that WE believe have the potential to change the world for the better.

The community aspect of our firm is also a huge differentiator. You probably can’t name any other VC firms who run an active global community. We do our best to build the relationships and trust with thousands of female entrepreneurs in our community. In fact, we firmly believe in building mutual trust and adding value before talking about investments or collaborations.

The New Savvy: What is your favourite part of being an entrepreneur?

I really love my flexible work schedule. I also cherish how things I love can and have become a part of my work: having to read up on fashion, beauty, etc. I have a lot of autonomy; I built my dream company from the ground up; I pave the way for other women to chase their dreams!

The New Savvy: What’s your least favourite part of being an entrepreneur?

Most definitely the administrative aspect of the fund. There is so so so much admin work that goes on in the background ranging from setting up different entities to going through term sheets to the legal documentation and to getting insurance for the firm. It’s never-ending and very time-consuming.

The New Savvy: What do you do on a daily basis to grow as an entrepreneur?

I really believe in the concept of lifelong learning so reading is something that Elizabeth and I do a lot of. One of my favourite books would be “Sapiens”; being an entrepreneur is all about thinking differently and this book really opened my eyes to see how humans came to be, why things are the way they are, how we were manipulated in human history, etc.
I also love learning that spans geographical regions.

SoGal co-founders, Pocket and Elizabeth

Elizabeth is based in New York, and we get to hear about different ideas going on daily from the other side of the world. The two of us are from different cultural, racial, and religious backgrounds, so we’ve really learned a lot from each other. As a firm, we host and attend events to learn about the different perspective from the community.

The New Savvy: What are the top three traits you look for in a company/founder before deciding to invest? Any advice for budding women entrepreneurs?

We actually have a huge list of criteria and all firms that we invest in have to check every single box on that list. But overall, we look for ass-kicking entrepreneurs that have high growth potentials and have the ability and willingness to expand globally.

We also look for companies that are really revolutionizing the next generation in terms of how people live, work, and stay healthy. Diversity in team composition is a definite plus and financials also have to make sense from a practicality point of view. And the company has to match our values!

The New Savvy: How do you define success and how do you measure up to your own definition?

We’re currently in the Industrial Revolution 4.0 era and it has given us a lot to think about. No one knows what will happen in the future. We may all be replaced by AI; we may have to live on universal income, etc.

At the end of the day, do we want movies to be made about us? Is that really important? We realised that even if we were the president of the USA, we might not be relevant after some decades. Nothing can really guarantee that you will make history or stay important over a long period of time.

Given all that, I feel like what’s most important is happiness in doing what we love and finding fulfilment in your daily life. I can absolutely check this box.

The New Savvy: What is your work philosophy?

I need to be very open-minded, having a pulse on what is going on in the world but also absorbing and finding inspiration in anything and everything. For example, watching a TV show might seem like nothing but relax but I usually get crazy ideas from it.

I also believe in being aware of things going on outside of my circle and having a holistic view of things; not just focusing on the financials of companies but looking at the whole picture in context.

The New Savvy: What difficulties have you faced in managing a cross-border firm?

We are both night owls and the time difference hasn’t been an issue. It’s actually really nice to get work done by the other person when you’re sleeping! Managing an entire firm by just two people is definitely hard work though. We’ve only recently started to outsource others to help us scale and institutionalize ourselves.

The New Savvy: What do you think needs to change in terms of women and their personal finance habits?

I believe that women should start investing early on; we are missing out on a lot of money that could be made if we don’t. I also feel that women can be bolder when it comes to investing.

Invest in things as they come up as opposed to waiting to see what happens. Personally, I invest in cryptocurrencies and I constantly try to learn more. For example, I’m going to Switzerland to attend a trip on the topic of cryptocurrencies, Women should be more open-minded to what is new and jump into new trends… even if that means starting small. They shouldn’t be stuck in traditional ways of investing. Real estate can be boring!

The New Savvy: What financial planning have you done for the future?

We’ve been bootstrapping for the past three years and this year will be the first that we’re getting a salary. Most of my $$$ has been used for business and travelling. In the future, I assume that I’ll still be investing more in startups and technology and less (or none) in bonds. You gotta stay with what interests you the most!

The New Savvy: Give us a parting quote!  

I recently watched the movie “Darkest Hour” and one quote by Winston Churchill stuck with me:
“Success is not final. Failure is not final. It is the courage to continue that counts” 
This really resonates with our philosophy to persist. To invest or to be an entrepreneur is all about persisting for the long term rather than the short term. It’s about embracing the hardship and challenges. Every single time you overcome s barrier, you evolve and know more about yourself.

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Founder @ The New Savvy
Anna Haotanto is the Advisor (former CEO) of The New Savvy. She is currently the COO of ABZD Capital and the CMO of Gourmet Food Holdings, an investment firm focusing on opportunities in the global F&B industry. She is part of the founding committee of the Singapore FinTech Association and heads the Women In FinTech and Partnership Committee. Anna is the President of the Singapore Management University Women Alumni. Anna invests and sits on the board of a few startups. Anna is also part of the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce & Industry Career Women’s Group executive committee. Anna’s story is featured on Millionaire Minds on Channel NewsAsia. She hosts TV shows and events, namely for Channel NewsAsia’s “The Millennial Investor” and “Challenge Tomorrow”, a FinTech documentary. Anna was awarded “Her Times Youth Award” at the Rising50 Women Empowerment Gala, organised by the Indonesian Embassy of Singapore. The award was presented by His Excellency Ngurah Swajaya. She was also awarded Founder of the Year for ASEAN Rice Bowl Startup Awards. She was also awarded the Women Empowerment Award by the Asian Business & Social Forum. Anna has been awarded LinkedIn Power Profiles for founders (2018, 2017), Tatler Gen T, The Peak’s Trailblazers under 40 and a nominee for the Women of The Future award by Aviva


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