Hi, Could you introduce yourself?

Hi there, my name is Paulina. I’m originally from Poland but I lived in Belgium, Switzerland, and eventually I ended up in the US. I spent in banking and consulting few years mainly managing global funds operations. I used to run my own company for 3 years but then I switched to the investment side having discovered the startup ecosystem and Venture Capital investing. Since then I've got involved in several VC related projects and now I work with VC funds, I do Angel Investing and work on bringing more diversity to the startup and VC ecosystem in the US and Europe.

What are you working on?

Currently, I'm a Venture Fellow working with New York based GroundUp Ventures, Venture Scout at Female Founded Club, and an advisor at Hatchub and Lumus Angel Investment

Also, I’m long life learner so now I do an MBA specializing in entrepreneurship and disruptive innovations and I totally enjoy the process of learning and discovering the local startup ecosystem.

What are the challenges and successes you’ve faced at Female Founders Club?

It’s not been long since I joined the FFC but from the very beginning it was clear that our mission is to provide platform for female founders where they can introduce their business and find the match on the investor side. When you look for diversity it’s not difficult to spot it.

There are amazing female founders around who work on great business concepts and we want to make the access to capital equal to everyone so we encourage all diverse founders to raise their hand and show what they work on and find most relevant and helpful angel or investor with institutional capital capacity. We have few hundreds of investors signed up to the platform and we already have first success stories. We are proud of being the connector and facilitator of this relationships making tangible impact on the market.

What are your goals?

I love to help founders succeed and bring their product to the market. I’m particularly interested in future of work concept that consist of the innovations that address the way we live, work and study. I’m involved in several initiatives supporting diversity in the VC and startup ecosystem globally and my goal is to make a difference one founder at a time until we no longer see the inequalities and biases in the space.

Here are a few initiatives I’m involved in:

Female Founded Club – Global
Hatchub – US
Hack.Diversity – USA
Lumus - CEE
Swiss FinTech Ladies – Swiss

Do you have a mentor?

I learn a lot from people I meet on a daily basis and I’m extremely grateful for being surrounded by so smart and exceptional individuals. People are extremely supportive, helpful and open to share their experience, so I always listen and ask questions to expand my knowledge and grow my mindset not really having one formal mentor but getting exposed to different situations, often out of my comfort zone, and getting the most out of the challenge and interactions with others.

Do you mentor anyone?

I have few informal mentees who I guide, share my experience and try to inspire to further develop their skills and pursue their career further on. I believe there is nothing we can’t do and some things just take time to be accomplished. I always say that if you truly love something, you will get there and the best thing is to remember to enjoy the process and do not give up if something doesn’t go well. Giving up on your dreams feels much worse than constantly chasing them so take one step at a time, work on skills, stay active, build your experience one project after the other and aim to do what makes you wake up in the morning.

What could society do to better foster female talent?

We should lead by example and do even small things to re-build the ecosystem from the ground up. The data shows that the execution and performance of female founders is at least the same, if not better, than men. Diversity is the greatest value and it’s just at your fingertips. It’s freely available on the market so you just need to raise your hand, invite them to your project and tremendously benefit from their input. I’m happy seeing more and more initiatives popping up on the markets that support diverse founders and we need to consistently do it. To be precise, let’s invite more girls to STEM programs, encourage them to get inspired, let them try it out. In the VC and startup ecosystem, be intentional when it comes to the funding criteria and at least ask for diversity on the founding team level. Bring some female investors to the fund and make decision making process equal for everyone, regardless the gender, nationality, age, etc. Show off success stories to ensure all founders know they are equally considered, and the biases are now getting smaller and smaller.

What advice would you give to people getting into your field?

As I mentioned, I spent in banking most of my career but only once I discovered what I’m truly passionate about I just learned that work can be something we truly love, and it does not feel like working anymore. I encourage everyone to be curious, take time to find your passion, do not be afraid of changing your path as when you find your calling you will be happy, fulfilled, motivated and you help a lot of people doing what you are good at and you truly enjoy. It took me quite a while to break into Venture Capital investing but I enjoyed every day I spent learning about the ecosystem, taking classes, having calls with investors as well as with founders and at some point you are ready to roll up your sleeves and jump in to the market bringing real value. So find the space you are crazy about, identify your strengths and build on them helping founders and investors. You will build your track record in time and find your place in the ecosystem.

“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” (Mark Twain).

What’s the best and worst advice you have received?

I think the worst one is ‘study, work hard, find job, keep it stable and go with the flow’. It’s just not the way I feel like living. I always knew the life is more than that and you just have to find what feels good to you even if it means taking risk and establishing your own criteria.

The best one is to ‘help people expecting nothing in return’. The good always comes back to you in the moment you do not expect and it’s just the moment you can appreciate it the most. I always try to help and I’m happy watching people succeeding so that’s part of the journey when you kind of give back to community and recognize the way you also went through.

Who do you follow? What blogs do you read?

Every day I have some time blocked for catching up with the news and checking what the industry leaders publish on their blogs, via podcasts or newsletters.
Here you can find the collection of resources I recommend if you are interested in the startup and VC space.

What’s the best way to keep up to date with what you’re doing?

I love to write so you can find me at www.investinginpassion.com. I was invited to write for Data Driven Investor series for Medium so feel free to take a look at my Medium profile where I also share my thoughts.

Also, I’m active on Twitter @Szy_Paula and on LinkedIn