FAQs2021-04-02T22:17:47+00:00

Here are the Facts

We value transparency. From inception, we have collected the most pertinent questions received from both founders & investors about our experiences, programs & opportunities and compiled them here for you. We answer with relevant comments for increased engagement & inquiry.

Got a question? We’re here to answer! If you don’t see your question in our FAQs below, drop us an email at info@adastra.ventures.

Red Per Aspera

For Entrepreneurs

What happens in the founder bootcamp?2021-04-04T15:05:51+00:00

We start with some intentionally designed “Get-to-know-you” exercises to build rapport and trust. This isn’t your average ice-breaker; be prepared to go deep, learn some interesting things about yourself and the other people in the room and uncover what makes you a unique leader.

We hit on topics such as:

  • The AAV implicit bias framework
  • Product market fit at launch, scale or growth
  • Fundraising strategies in a world of subconscious bias
  • Pitch readiness
  • Investor simulations with our mentor network
  • Team, values & culture
  • Personal board of directors
  • Advisory board (if necessary)

We are offering our virtual founders bootcamp at a reduced rate of $350. Because we want to make this accessible for all women, if this creates a financial hardship please contact us.

You can feel good knowing that proceeds from this founders bootcamp go to our sister organization, Stella Labs, to help support a brand-new female entrepreneur.

What do past founder bootcamp attendees have to say?2021-04-04T15:07:17+00:00

We asked our past founder bootcamp attendees what their favorite part of the program was, here are some quotes that make us smile:

  • “If more female founders attend this bootcamp, the more of us will be out there knowing how to get to even. And the more incredible women I can connect with to collaborate and grow our businesses.”
  • “What Ad Astra offers is invaluable to women in the startup phase of their businesses and are getting ready to raise investment.”
  • “Having an opportunity to watch a group of extraordinary women beautifully pitch, then a chance to do my pitch in front of these women, gave me the ability to quickly see some things I needed to change and institute. The highlight was showcasing my new pitch that same morning to investors!”
  • “It really did feel like a Bootcamp – quickly intense, exhausting, unsettling, and highly productive. I loved that we started with the journey map. It was very clear that you all truly cared about us, our goals, our companies, and how we connected. I’ve never seen that before at any startup event.”
  • “As a female CEO and Founder, I have struggled to find a group that treats business factually and in a hard-hitting manner, like men do. This bootcamp is run by SMART women who will call a spade a spade, but rather than tear you down to criticize you (or win), they tear you down to build you back up (to help YOU win).”
  • “I have been craving a place where I could connect with other women who are plagued by self-doubt, loneliness and determination, but who are so darn busy and stressed because they’re out there working their butts off. I’ve found it. Other strong BUSINESS women, not women in business.”
  • “I can’t thank you guys enough. Emotionally I was far from ready for that and I don’t think I’ve been in an environment where we were encouraged to be that vulnerable.”
  • “The time we had together was packed full of meaningful sessions. At the end, I felt more confident to present my business to investors which was my one goal for the program.”
Who is a good fit for the founder bootcamp?2021-04-04T14:35:21+00:00

You have grit, determination and courage. You were uniquely destined to start your company and there is nothing in the world you are meant to be doing right now other than seeing your company to success. You are humble, authentic and also a little crazy, in a good way! You know how hard being at the top is and could use a little help from other founders, the community and the AAV team.

That being said, most of our bootcamp founders have been in the early stages of their business (pre-seed / seed funding). Our founders range from recent college graduates to single moms to executives turned entrepreneurs and all have years of experience relevant to their startup.

In addition, we encourage applicants to have 3 of the 6 following criteria:

  • Generating revenue
  • Some form of IP
  • Conducted multiple customer interviews
  • Proof of Concept
  • MVP
  • Letter of Intent
How many women will be in the founder bootcamp?2021-04-04T15:07:38+00:00

The bootcamp will have a maximum of 15 founders (12 companies) and a portion of each day will be spent in a mini-cohort of 4-5 people intentionally grouped by stage and/or industry.  We set our standards extremely high, and are constantly blown away by the quality of applicants we receive.

What is so special about Ad Astra for founders?2021-04-04T13:35:10+00:00

Our curriculum is specifically tailored to female founders. Why? Because the research (and our own experience) shows females are at a disadvantage when it comes to founding a startup. Our team has assembled the latest research on this topic and developed a proprietary framework to support women entrepreneurs.

In addition to vital business fundamentals, with the Ad Astra Method you will learn to understand gender biases, assess how these obstacles affect your business and practice tactics for neutralizing bias to succeed personally and professionally.

How much does the founder bootcamp cost?2021-04-04T14:38:21+00:00

We are offering our virtual founders bootcamp at a reduced rate of $350. Because we want to make this accessible for all women, if this creates a financial hardship please contact us.

You can feel good knowing that proceeds from this bootcamp go to our sister organization, Stella Labs, to help support a brand-new female entrepreneur.

 

There will be no guaranteed investment, and Ad Astra will also not take any equity in the companies that go through the program.

 

How do I support Ad Astra as a mentor?2021-04-01T17:04:52+00:00

At Ad Astra, we are always on the lookout for experienced entrepreneurs who share our values of integrity, humility, others before self, and transparency. Each of our highly accomplished mentors have made a positive difference in both Ad Astra Ventures and our portfolio companies. Please contact us at info@adastra.ventures if you are interested in becoming a mentor.

For Investors

How do I support Ad Astra as a mentor, or as we like to say “mentor-investor”?2021-04-03T14:55:39+00:00

At Ad Astra, we are always on the lookout for experienced investors (albeit entrepreneurs turned investors, angel investors, micro VCs, venture capitalists, impact investors, etc.) who share our values of integrity, humility, others before self, integrity, and transparency. Each of our highly accomplished mentors-investors have made a positive difference in both Ad Astra Ventures and our portfolio companies. Please contact us at info@adastra.ventures if you are interested in becoming a mentor.

How do I support Ad Astra as an investor?2021-04-04T14:42:19+00:00

We welcome anyone who is passionate about growing the community of investors who support & invest in diverse founders.  Opportunities abound! Please reach out to us at info@adastra.ventures for more information on ways to contribute.

What happens in the investor bootcamp?2021-04-04T14:29:27+00:00

The goal of the “Close the Gap” Investor Bootcamp is to equip new, early, and experienced investors with a better understanding of how to maximize their portfolio returns. All this is to close the funding gap across the venture table – not only how many women founders receive funding but how many women investors fund startups. Aspiring and existing investors become keenly aware of investor biases, learn how to impact their own investment outcomes and act on newly developed skills through investor simulations with quality female founders.

This engaging bootcamp is a two-day immersive experience, help 2-3 hrs per day, where you will interact with other values-aligned & impact-driven investors, growing your personal network of investors and learn to embrace the Ad Astra Framework and Methodology to make better investment decisions.

A field study conducted on question-and-answer interactions at TechCrunch Disrupt New York City during 2010 through 2016 revealed that investors tend to ask male entrepreneurs promotion-focused questions and female entrepreneurs prevention-focused questions; entrepreneurs tend to respond with matching focus. (source: Academy of Management Journal)

The “Close The Gap” Investor Bootcamp at Women’s Venture Summit will give you unique tools to review and interact with companies differently – and the ability to see women-owned companies through a new lens.

Led by Ad Astra Ventures’ founders and experienced investors, Allison Long Pettine, Vidya Dinamani, and Silvia Mah, this event will teach investors how to improve their due diligence process and significantly change the way they interact with female-led companies. Based on significant research, combined investor relations experience, and practical lessons learned from the (1) Ad Astra Ventures Founders Accelerator, (2) Ad Astra Ventures “Get to Even” Founders Bootcamp, and (3) continual advising and championing current portfolio of companies, Allison, Vidya, and Silvia will share with you how they’ve modified their own investment process to reach for their north star of Equality across the venture table.

In summary:

  • 2 days, 6 hours total on Zoom (3 hours / day)
  • Unique curriculum written and taught by 3 Founding Partners
  • Sessions designed to recognize the patterns we as investors subconsciously rely on and how small actions can increase deal flow, diversify portfolios, and maximize returns
  • Investor simulations with Ad Astra Ventures portfolio companies and founder bootcamp alumni (highly curated)
  • Interactive discussions, case studies, and group insights to make the experience meaningful, insightful, and fun!

We are offering our virtual investor bootcamp at a reduced rate of $150.

You can feel good knowing that proceeds from this bootcamp go to our sister organization, Stella Labs, to help support scholarships for new women entrepreneurs.

What are people saying about the investor bootcamp?2021-04-04T14:04:58+00:00

You don’t have to take our word for it – here’s what our investors had to say about their “Close the Gap” bootcamp experience:

“The investor day and WVS were amazing! Now I’d like to start my journey in angel investing …” – Aspiring investor, 2019

“It has been very enlightening to see how my own gender biases translate into prejudices and can make me jump to conclusions, resulting in missed opportunities.” – Experienced investor, 2019

“Informative & substantive information presented. Founders were top notch!” – Investor, 2019

“It was a great opportunity to learn, share, and exchange perspectives. Ad Astra Ventures created a safe space to discuss some themes that can be controversial; the way they were presented was very effective. Great, fruitful discussions as well. Ad Astra did a terrific job selecting great female founders to pitch.” – Investor, 2019

How much does the investor bootcamp cost?2021-04-04T14:32:00+00:00

We are offering our virtual investor bootcamp at a reduced rate of $150 (subject to change closer to August 2021).

You can feel good knowing that proceeds from this bootcamp go to our sister organization, Stella Labs, to help support scholarships for new women entrepreneurs.

Typically associated with the Womens Venture Summit, there are discounted bundles for tickets, so check out the event website.

What are the AAV partner’s favorite tool taught in the investor bootcamp?2021-04-04T14:01:26+00:00

During the “Close the Gap” Investor Bootcamp, we will explore tools that will equip you to better returns.

Allison Long Pettine’s favorite AAV tool: Be Curious

“As investors, we are discerning and skeptical by nature and so often we’re used to taking what founders say at face value or even discounting what we hear. I have found with female founders, what they say is often just scratching the surface of what the reality is, and by taking what they say without asking more is doing them and me a disservice.

I recall one time when a founder told me that she was in the early stages of her business and that she still had so much to do and a long way to go before investors would be interested. I mentally checked out and assumed her company was not strong enough for me to even consider investing. I ran into her a few weeks later and it came up in conversation that she was running pilots with a few well-known public companies. I had assumed she didn’t even have a product built the way she was describing her business and certainly didn’t think she had started conversations with potential customers. By not practicing curiosity, I made assumptions that hurt her chances of me investing in her. It wasn’t until that moment that I realized her reality was very different than the typical founder I was used to speaking with.”

Vidya Dinamani’s favorite AAV tool: Be Positive

“As an investor, we’re usually looking for a reason to say “no” because we have a high bar of what we want to put our money into. What I like about “be positive” is that it reminds me of the research that proves that I’m more inclined to say “no” to a woman because of implicit bias. I try and reframe my questions in a promotion light to draw out more information and help see the potential.”

Silvia Mah’s favorite AAV tool: Be Mindful

“Mindfulness has so many facets of strategic empathy to tactical temperaments. Of particular importance to me as a female investor is how mindfulness shows up in three ways: (1) empathy of the founder’s work-life dynamics (the female factor), (2) awareness of investor relations implications of stage/industry of startup (investor-founder dynamics), and (3) understanding the art & architecture/structure of product-market fit found primarily through mindfully understanding the ideal customer of the startup you are investing in. Being mindful of the founder’s personal and professional opportunities for growth allows the investor to truly be a champion for the founder; something we so uniquely do at Ad Astra Ventures.

When advising founders, I talk about how to equip them to be successful with the strengths they innate have and the constraints they have to live with. It’s about setting up trust  (the most valuable currency of investors) between the founder and investor, transparency is shared and thus, can really collaborate successfully on warm leads with investors, syndication opportunities as partnerships, and strategizing on growth milestones that are realistic with the resources, talent and team the startup has at their disposal. There are startups in particular that I have been blessed to work mindfully through pivots, growth, and multiple rounds of fundraising: Aquacycl, founded by Orianna Bretshner and Sekr (formerly The van life app), founded by Breanne Acio. Both startups started with Stella Labs, either taking our accelerator program or capitalizing on our access to capital events. We worked together on growth hacks with a full-picture view of market, life in general, industry trends, ad investor demand. I am a proud individual #angelinvestor in each. Then, Aquacycl became an Ad Astra Ventures portfolio company as Orianna met even more milestones, won the San Diego Angel Conference and received two rounds of funding from Next Wave Impact Fund. Orianna is mindfully coachable and is aware of investor trends and needs. Sekr, formerly The van life app, has been a long relationship as well, through pivots, accelerator wins, pitch competitions, and long discussions about culture, inclusivity and integrity as broader leadership conversations. Breanne is a quintessential tenacious founder, an advocate for other LGBTQ founders, and truly sought optimal product-market fit. She is now an alumna of TechStars Anywhere Accelerator and Ad Astra Ventures Bootcamp; she mindfully took advantage of all the resources, mentors and advisory hours.
Who is a good fit for the the investor bootcamp?2021-04-04T14:17:45+00:00

Whether you’re new to investing and want to start off with your best foot forward – or you’re an experienced investor who wants to add more women to their portfolio – you’ll learn and practice tools that will help you change the way you view entrepreneurs at the AAV investor bootcamp.

Qualities and mindset of our investor network of alumni include those investors who are:

  • Curious about learning new tools and frameworks that lead to a better understanding of how to maximize your portfolio returns.
  • Craving community of values-aligned investor whose values include integrity, transparency, and equality
  • Impact-driven to invest in startups that will positively change the world
  • Driven to get to even (equal representation of women founders and women investors across the venture table)
How many people will be in the investor bootcamp?2021-04-04T14:33:28+00:00

The investor bootcamp will have a maximum of 30 investors (typically between 15-25) and a portion of each day will be spent in a mini-cohort of 4-5 people intentionally grouped by stage (angel or VC) and/or industry (investing in AI, impact consumer product).  We set our standards extremely high and are constantly blown away by the quality of investors who attend. Get ready for interactive discussions, case studies, and group insights that make the experience meaningful, insightful, and fun!

Please note: this investor bootcamp is open to all genders, so we welcome all members of our investor global network to inquire to join us, info@adastra.ventures

What is so special about Ad Astra for investors?2021-04-04T15:02:16+00:00

Ad Astra Ventures’ north star is equality; we invest for equality because we have seen first-hand that it’s in short supply. Our investment takes many forms—time, money, experience, relationships, heart—all in an effort to close the gap and get to even.

We seek investors who are values-aligned (integrity, curiosity, transparency, boldness) and impact-driven (aligned to the UN SDGs). We build our network mindfully.

“At Ad Astra Ventures, we are committed to investing in great companies led by women. The most resilient founders are not slowing down despite current events. We seek to help investors overcome their unconscious biases to ensure the best companies get the funding they need to thrive. We need investors who want to maximize their portfolio returns through a conscious capital approach: investing for impact, activating new capital through strong networks driven towards diversity, and leaving a legacy of innovative startups on a mission to change the world.”

— Dr. Silvia Mah, Ad Astra Ventures Partner

Venture Builder

Discovery Phase2021-03-31T23:59:08+00:00
  • Each founder will work with all three partners
  • First 6 weeks include:
    • 2 full-day kickoff experience
    • Entrepreneur Hierarchy of Needs
    • Assessing & highlighting business gaps
    • Strategic Go-Forward Plan
  • Results are unique & custom for each founder
  • Discovery Phase is followed by Working Phase
Working Phase2021-04-01T00:00:01+00:00
  • Each founder will work with each partner & trusted community leaders for specific needs
  • The 6+ months include:
    • Actionable working sessions to go through Strategic Co-Forward Plan
    • Set blueprint for continued success
  • Complete Venture Builder can take up-to 6 months (approximately) based on availability of founder, the results of strategic assessment against the Hierarchy, and ensuing areas of focus custom to each founder.
More Details2021-04-01T00:04:02+00:00
  • Each founder must have completed the Ad Astra Bootcamp to be considered
  • Investment: ($100K) $50K on a convertible note from AAV on acceptance to Venture Builder, matched by Crescent Ridge Partners (CRP)
  • Equity: (5%) For our AAV programming & strategic advising, we ask for up to 5% common stock
  • Our partnership with CRP provides the ability to invest up to $500K on completion of the Working Phase of the Venture Builder
Ideal Founder2021-04-01T00:03:43+00:00
  • Values-alignment between company & AAV
  • Has desire to grow her business methodically & thoughtfully (vs wanting to build a rocket ship)
  • Has specific industry expertise or personal experience that is foundational to the company
  • Is capital efficient & profitable (or close)
  • Serves a market that is overlooked
  • Is open to both traditional and/or non-traditional venture routes
  • Is actively looking for support specifically for women
  • Open to learning & coaching
  • Advocates for equality

General

Who should consider hosting an Ad Astra workshop or retreat?2021-03-31T23:55:25+00:00

Short answer…anyone who cares about supporting female founders! We have shared the Ad Astra Method with partners including venture capital firms, startup incubators, entrepreneur symposiums, college campuses, and corporations. Our workshops are tailored to address the interests and needs of each audience. And of course, this includes our male colleagues and collaborators from all walks of life!

What is so special about Ad Astra?2021-04-04T14:54:20+00:00

Ad Astra Ventures’ north star is equality; we invest for equality because we have seen first-hand that it’s in short supply. Our investment takes many forms—time, money, experience, relationships, heart—all in an effort to close the gap and get to even.

We seek to help female founders become aware of their strengths & unique skillsets to leverage efficient startup growth. We aim to inspire confidence in female founders by connecting them to a like-minded tribe of fierce female leaders, from their own bootcamp cohorts to the mentor-investors who are part of our programs. We are passionate about getting to even, equipping & empowering BOTH women founders and investors; know we are the “anti-accelerator” of sorts because we slow down to accelerate startups. The Ad Astra Ventures bootcamps for founders and investors are a high-energy, intensive virtual experience over the span of 2-4 curriculum days with pre- and post- work, small group break-out sessions and 1-on-1 meetings. In our founder bootcamps, we dive into the STRENGTHS and superpowers of each founder, the hard and soft skills these fabulous female founders bring to their startup, and we equip them to neutralize bias with investors, customers & their extended network, to THRIVE! In our investor bootcamps, we build awareness with each investor around unconscious bias, based on research in the field; then allow them to practice new tools, like asking more promotion-focused questions, with stellar female founders.

We deeply care about getting to even. We break the mold of supporting female founders & growing a community of values-aligned and impact-driven leaders.

Female founders play a huge role in economic growth in their communities, nationally and globally; A McKinsey Global Institute study found that advancing women’s equality could add $12 trillion to the global economy by 2025. Female founders also outperform their male counterparts by 63%, a study by First Round Capital.

 

 

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