Office Hours: I'm the chief of staff and investor at Halogen Ventures. I'm Ashley Ramirez.Featured

Hi everyone! I am Ashley Ramirez, chief of staff and investor at Halogen Ventures, a Los Angeles, California based Venture Capital fund focused on investing in early stage consumer technology startups with a female in the founding team. Among our portfolio are companies like The Skimm, Binti, The Flex Company, Carbon38, Squad App, HopSkipDrive and more. Prior to joining Halogen, I worked in PR, Marketing, Talent Relations and Entertainment with iHeartMedia, a boutique PR firm and The Valley Girl Show. I am a graduate of UCLA. Go Bruins! Ask me anything about investing, fundraising, building early stage startups, portfolio support, operations and platform, marketing, media, and more!
Thanks so much for joining us @AshleyRamirez!Elphas – please ask @AshleyRamirez your questions before Friday, November 6th. @AshleyRamirez may not have time to answer every questions, so emoji upvote your favorites 🔥👍🏾➕
Hi @AshleyRamirez! Thank you for offering your time. Mine may be a loaded question but we all know it happens... What is the the thing you see women do in pitches that hurts us the most that you don't see men do?
Hi Jenny! This is a great question. We meet so many incredible women building innovative businesses in billion dollar markets. They blow me away! It's absolutely amazing to meet these female entrepreneurs. Women make for the best entrepreneurs which is why we bet on them everyday! In pitches, we sometimes (not all of the time) see women apologizing a lot and a lack in confidence. Even though their business is AWESOME and they are crushing their pitch, they sometimes have a little bit of doubt. Stop apologizing, believe in yourself, in your idea and your company and own it! Don’t apologize for not having everything perfect and ditch perfection because it can be paralyzing. I am so proud to be a part of a fund that bets on the dreams of female founders. Let's all build eachother up and help one another nail that pitch and gain the confidence to know that what they are building is incredible.
Thanks for your thoughtful and encouraging reply, Ashley! The content and the energy of it are really inspiring!
Hi @AshleyRamirez - thanks for having Office Hours! I’m CEO/co-founder of a female-founded (mother/daughter) technology startup. My question is, as we prepare to raise our first round of funding is it appropriate to identify the family connection in our business plan, slide deck or investor blurb? Currently, I have not called this out in any of our materials - and I was wondering what your perspective was as an investor?
Hi Deborah! Congratulations on launching a business with your daughter! You two are a dynamic duo! Are you both co-founders? Personally, I think you should own the fact that this is a mother/daughter owned business. At the early stages, investors are betting on teams and it's good to let them know all the details. In your deck, you should have a teamslide. You can explain it on that slide but you can also make it part of your story in the beginning of how you started the business.
Thanks for the feedback! Yes, we’re both cofounders and I will definitely include as part of our team description & origin story! Much appreciated 🙂
Hi @AshleyRamirez! We recently raised our seed round ($3M) -- and getting on the road to our Series A. What's the best thing I can do right now before we're ready to really dive into conversations with VCs?
Hi Jordan! Congrats on closing your seed round of $3M! There's lots you can do before hitting the road to your A. Get ready to commit a full 4-6 months of fundraising. It might not take that long but just make sure you're fully prepared to dedicate your time to fundraising your A. You don't want to be fundraising forever as you have an incredible business to build. Fundraising is a personal journey so don't be discouraged by the conversations that don't go the way you expected. Let the No's wash over your shoulder and keep pushing! Add those investors that said 'No' to your investor update list or newsletter and ask them for feedback. Prepare your Powerful narrative - why does this matter? Is it changing the world and what does it mean to the world? What does the success of this company look like? etc. Find the right investors! Build your VC/investor target wisely and thoughtfully. Create an organized list in whatever it is you use to keep organized and track things. Some of our founders use excel sheets, some use Asana, some use Trello. It all depends on what works for you! It makes the fundraising process more efficient. One of our companies closed their A so quickly because they were incredibly organized and efficient. They knew exactly who they wanted to target and utilized their network including their investors to help get warm introductions. Lastly, Be confident! You can do it!!!!
Thank you so much!! I got so much energy just reading your response—magic. Thank you.
Thank you so much!!! You're a queen. Will read this forever <3
Hi @AshleyRamirez 🙋🏻‍♀️ How did you end up as an investor in a venture capital firm? Since your early career involved a lot of marketing, PR, etc. What made you take that step? Also, how much money do you need to start investing in venture capital if you have never done this before?! Thank you for supporting women funders 💥🙌🏼💯
Hi America! I grew up in a small town on the central coast of California where Venture Capital, or startups for that matter, did not exist -- even though LA was three hours south and Silicon Valley was a few hours north. My first introduction to technology and venture capital was when I was a junior in college at UCLA. I interviewed for an internship at a technology talk show called ‘The Valley Girl Show’. I had no idea what it was about or what the internship would entail, but I was so excited to explore something new. All of my friends were doing internships at big companies like Universal and Disney. I was really excited to do something different. Jesse Draper, our Founding Partner at Halogen Ventures, was the founder and host of ‘The Valley Girl Show.’ It was one of the very first technology talk shows interviewing CEOs and entrepreneurs in a light-hearted approachable way. The show was nominated for an Emmy. During this internship, I discovered that to me, celebrities were the entrepreneurs building some of the most innovative and fascinating technology companies. Jesse started Halogen Ventures in 2016 and brought me on board. I was so excited and eager to learn! She's been an amazing mentor to me. I’ve been with the fund since, and I am so grateful for the opportunity and experience it’s given me the past four and a half years. But I mostly give credit to Jesse for exposing me to this world and giving me the opportunity to be a part of something great. As far as how much you need, there's no concrete answer. Just start investing :) You can be an angel investor with something as small as a $2,500 check or sometimes even less. (that's actually a big check to me haha) but it's important that you go for it and put your money to work. Our General Partner, wrote this awesome article in collaboration with Molly Sims I found super helpful when talking about finances.
Thank you 💗 @AshleyRamirezI have always been very interested in investing in tech but I always thought I needed a big amount to start “angel” investing. This all sounds like really good advice, thanks for sharing your story
Hi! @AshleyRamirez As someone who is looking to break into VC but I'm still a fresh graduate, what are the best ways to network with a VC to see if they are hiring and best showcase my value? I've been checking out associate programs but most require me to still be enrolled as a "student" I also have a Finance academic background and not a very technical/STEM-oriented one.I would also love to hear what are some things you learnt ever since making the career pivot into VCs! Thank you so much for your time 😊
So excited to hear you're wanting to pursue a career in VC! I love to see more women in Venture! We actually started a fellowship program this past summer for undergraduates. It was an awesome first experience. We had a few fellows that graduated that same year. Our fellowship program has a focus on gender dynamics and we aim to train exceptional undergraduate students in venture capital and to create more opportunities for young people from all backgrounds to become investors. There are many VC funds that don't have strict requirements, they just want great candidates and exceptional people! One awesome article I love written by Jomayra Herrera from & Amanda Robson from Cowboy Ventures is Happy to chat anytime! Feel free to email me :)
Thank you for the thoughtful reply! I actually love that article and even took pages of notes from it haha. I appreciate your answers very much.
Hey @AshleyRamirez, What career paths are available for those who want to work in VC, but do not have their MBA?
Hi Haley, So happy to 'see' you here on Elpha! Not everyone in VC has their MBA. Many assume a finance background or an MBA is necessary for a job in venture capital. While that experience is definitely helpful, it’s not required. I don't have an MBA and went to UCLA for undergrad. If you want to pursue an MBA it's always great to gain that education and utilize the network that comes out of graduate school. However, not all VC firms require you to have an MBA. Diverse work experiences and skill sets can bring a unique perspective to the table when identifying and evaluating investment opportunities or helping the development and structure of a VC fund. Depending on what you are looking to do in venture capital there are many jobs you can pursue. There's the operational/platform side and the investment side. Do you know what route you want to take?
Hi @AshleyRamirez! Can you share more about what your Chief of Staff role looks like as compared to the investing side? What do you see as the strengths needed for a COS role and career paths that could stem from that in the future?
Hi Allie! Great question - I love my role as Chief of Staff. I have this kind of unique role at our fund where I wear many hats. When I first joined Halogen, we were thinking of a title for someone that does it all. I have this interesting hybrid role where I work on the investment side and operational side. I source and identify the best companies to invest in, work hands on with our portfolio, manage relationships with our Limited Partners, and lead the fund’s platform, too. I’m involved in so many operational aspects of the fund. It’s incredible exposure and at Halogen we’re all hands on deck. My COS duties are very hands on with our portfolio companies and running our platform/supporting our amazing General Partner. But my job is split almost 50/50. As a chief of staff in early stage investing and especially at a micro fund/small team, it's important to be flexible. Always be willing to jump in when needed and fill the gaps. Think outside of the box. Meaning think outside of just a traditional COS role and the description of what your title was when you first got hired. Do all of those duties and so much more. I also find it important to figure out ways you can be valuable to your portfolio companies and your General Partner. How can you strengthen the fund and it's portfolio? What can you do to support your team in both small and big ways? Don't be afraid to ask to sit in a meeting so you can learn as much as possible. If it's something interesting to you, ask questions. The greatest thing that happened to me was our GP threw me into everything and I got to learn by doing and shadowing her. Lastly, build a great reputation for your yourself and the fund within the community. Depending on the fund you're with, there could be opportunity to work towards what you feel more called to - investment or operational. Hope this is helpful! Happy to chat further anytime in real time.
I so so appreciate your perspective - thank you! Having been on the platform side for many years, I am always interested to learn what paths others have taken to help inform my own journey. I'd love to have a quick chat and will send you a note. Happy Friday!
Hi @Ashley thx for taking ?'s here. Do you guys do pre-seed? If so what range and are you look'g for prototype validation prior? Lastly, do you ever help a non-tech founder find the right CTO/Tech Co-Founder? Thx so much
Hi Jo! Happy Friday! Yes, we invest in early stage consumer technology companies with a female in the founding team. That includes pre-seed and seed stage companies. Depending on the type of company, we do like to see some kind of traction, but that doesn't always need to mean dollars, it could be a waitlist of 100,000 emails or partnerships in the pipeline etc. Again, all depending on the kind of company. We are ultimately looking for visionary founders who are solving a problem. It's important to think big. We want to see founders creating groundbreaking technologies and products whose market is over a billion dollars. We are hands on and support our founders through their full lifecycle. We help them build their networks, get brand exposure, hire great talent, raise follow-on rounds and find their path to acquisition or IPO. Helping them hire great talent is a big part in how we support our founders.
Fantastic thx so much -you are a superwoman 🔥
Great to see your here, Ashley!!
Hi Brittany! So great to see you! Hope you are well.
Go Bruins! Bet we know tons of people in common. Gary Fraser? leaders at heart media, bloggers etc.. Quick one: Do you ever look at companies with over 40+ founders? Feel like our idea has circulated the valley but we are still getting "chicken & the egg". Thanks, for making a difference for women with early stage startups like @elpha
Hi Suzanna! Go Bruins!!! I want to make sure I understand your question. Do you mean do we look at founders over the age of 40? If so, most definitely! We believe wholeheartedly that diversity -- across age, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, race, and life experiences -- breeds success. Currently in the portfolio, Halogen founders range in age from 24 to 62.
Hi @AshleyRamirez, thank you for hosting office hours! What advice do you have for someone trying to figure out how to develop their investor mindset and theses?
Hi Tiffany! Happy Friday! A few things: Pick an industry to focus on. Do you want to primarily focus on early stage (pre seed, seed, series A)? What sectors/verticals? Talk about the value that you can add from day 1. Gather market research and do a deep dive into those industries. You want to make sure that when someone reads your investment thesis, they know exactly what to send to you or what you are looking for. For example: Halogen Ventures is an early stage venture capital fund investing in consumer technology companies led by women. Halogen Ventures invests in pre-seed, seed and series A companies creating groundbreaking technologies and products in the consumer space. We are hands on and support our founders through their full lifecycle. We help them build their networks, get brand exposure, hire great talent, raise follow-on rounds and find their path to acquisition or IPO. All of this you can find on VC websites like ours. Hope this is helpful!
Hi Ashley, I am a new CEO, I have been a CFO for 20 years. I have raised a significant amount of money for startups to midstage companies. In my new role I am finding it difficult to raise the small amount needed to finish our prototype. We have proven that it works in our first version, and in the lab. All of my contacts are welcoming and wonderful and telling us to come back when the prototype is complete. However we need to raise a small amount to finish the prototype. What types of funding should we be looking for?
Hi Lynnette! Congratulations on all of your accomplishments! There are many sources and structures to finance your startup. Many entrepreneurs have gotten their venture off the ground with friends and family money. You can bootstrap if you have the funds. You can even get a bank loan or non bank loan. Angel investors. Crowdfunding Sites such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo. This article I've found to be super helpful!
Hi Ashley,We've been developing a therapeutic for about a year. We're looking to get an SBIR grant to fund our project at least over the next year. At that point we will have in vivo proof-of-concept. When we were starting we looked at a number of accelerators, but now that we have traction and if we do succeed in being awarded grant money, I'm beginning to wonder whether going through an accelerator is even necessary to raise a round. I'm sure there's a lot of value for tech, but for therapeutics, where we would be the odd one out, going against the grain--we're thinking that the value of an accelerator comes from demo day, the credibility we would acquire from being a part of a batch and the network we could build. Is going through an accelerator something that is necessary to raise a round?I appreciate your time,Christine
Hi Christine! It's important to find the right accelerator for you and your business! There are some accelerators that are focused on therapeutics/healthcare. There's an awesome accelerator in LA called Scale LA ( Accelerators like Techstars have amazing mentors from all different verticals that are incredibly helpful. Is this a company that is creating a specific drug or therapy that is FDA regulated?
Hi @AshleyRamirez, thank you for hosting office hours! Need an advice thatAs a startup, we're still in the development phase of the product. What should be our pitch to the end-user - Current MVP.- Or the vision which is not fully ready yet.